Sometimes, you see something as a writer that makes you check your sanity.
And makes you wonder about the state of humanity as well…
So what happens when the audience just glazes over in the face of a story? When there’s a compelling tale to tell that just does not get any traction whatsoever, no matter how compelling the story, no matter how important it is, it just does not register with anyone?
I wish I could say this is a complaint about my numbers; I wish this post was just some whiny self-important moping about my audience.
But this is about Venezuela.
I don’t know if you’d heard about what’s going on down there, how Hugo Chavez’s successor is resorting to repression to deny the costs of the inherent mistakes made by the last regime. And it’s bad; the official death toll as I write this is between six and eight, but with press expulsions, diplomats forced to leave and the shutting down of the Internet in country, that could actually be a lot higher. Without more information, we have to entertain the devastating thought that this story may be drenched in a lot more blood than we know.
Or care about, because this revolution is almost invisible here in the United States.
Is lack of interest due to scale? No, these deaths are not Kiev-like numbers, but that’s a horrid unit of measure we’ll consider later.
They say if you want to jazz up a story, give the reader something to latch on to. And if you’re in a crunch, the old adage, “Sex sells,” comes to mind. Which brings up…
Her name was Genesis Carmona, 22. It’s okay to discuss her looks, as she was a beauty pageant winner, which makes her a success in a major Venezuelan industry.
She was also part of the protests against the government in Valencia on Tuesday the 18th, where security forces shot her point blank in the face, killing her.
This drew some press finally, in the New York Daily News. Which gave a lot more attention to this crisis by Wednesday than The New York Times had at that point.
If the Times is being out-reported on an international crisis by the Daily News, then there are way to many ways to count how screwed we are…
And that’s the part that’s scary, the whole “lack of attention” to the crisis. We can’t blame President Maduro’s campaign to shut the country entirely for this; sure, he probably learned his lesson well from Egypt and Syria’s efforts to black out their unrest and keep people isolated, but news still got out from there. And while Ukraine seems very cavalier about information leaving the country, evidenced by Espresso TV’s operations there, it’s not exactly a case of the government putting up press junkets for reporters to come on in.
For Venezuela to just disappear, there needs to be a collaborator, and in this case it’s the media.
Why? Are those shrinking news budgets finally catching up to the point where media companies can only cover one revolutionary movement at a time, and that you come too late you lose? Are the resources to place people in Sochi for the Winter Olympics straining the attention of all news directors? Is there something about Venezuela that’s making these folks think it’s poison to discuss during “sweeps month”?
So how did this happen? Venezuela has been on the minds of folks overseas since it was a major stop for the “plate fleet,” and some outlets here couldn’t get enough of Hugo Chavez when he was alive (mostly to report on what a buffoon he was).
And that’s the part that’s keeping me awake. It’s one thing to talk about how to reach out to people, as writers constantly worry about, when it comes to making sure their work finds readers. It’s not enough to publish or perish; what you publish has to find readers. And if your work disappears in the din and buzz, that’s not a crisis, that’s a marketing puzzle.
But if an entire f’n’ revolution just blanks out of the minds of everyone, what does that mean? What can we draw from that, that such an event of import in a prodigiously producing member state in OPEC at a time when oil is still important, can just not be there in anyone’s mind?
Is it safe to write when even stories this big are just not registering…?