Other people's news
The Soham trial begins with the fanfare that is customary for the big murders. Remember Them, screams the Sun, which strikes me as odd.
My only acquaintance with the victims is through the media, and I only know them as victims. In this role, I'm hardly likely to forget them, so widely was their abduction and murder covered. It would be a poor memory that wouldn't place their names without any need of prompting.
The Sun is not of course asking us to "remember them". It's suggesting we become outraged all over again. That outrage is driven by fear. We are to believe that the murder of children implies that we live in a bad world and we should fear for our own children. Of course it implies no such thing. It says no more than that there was a nutter in Soham. There being a nutter in Soham does not mean there are any in Tooting. Why should I believe otherwise? (It would be different if there were a spate of unconnected child murders around the country, maybe.)
The lie that news sells us is that it concerns us what happens elsewhere. It does not. I mean by this that it is not something that affects us. We might be concerned, if we choose, about starving children in Africa, but it has no bearing on our lives. We only realise it is happening because it is reported.
Distinguishing what really concerns us from what merely arouses our curiosity is a difficult task, because the media, whose interest is in blurring the distinction, and the government, whose interest is in having us believe our interests and those of the sections of the community it serves are the same, work hard to make it so.
I don't care that two girls were killed in Soham last year. It has no meaning to me. It would be ridiculous to suggest that I should worry about what happens to other people's children, when I do not know the people, nor will I ever. Why ought I to care when they are killed when no one would think I should were they to break a leg, to fail an exam, to be battered by their parents? (Two children each week die at the hands of one or both of their parents.) I couldn't even find Soham on a map. I don't care either whether the guy on trial is convicted. I do care that he will not receive a fair trial, but that is another question for another time, although it doesn't seem clearcut.