There’s been a family of goats hanging around the village for a few months now, coming down to browse some empty sections. Not an issue – dogs, chooks and pensioners roam as well. Until someone rang the Council and the animal control officer threatened to cull them (the goats not the pensioners).

For some reason the goat story took off (lack of news on a Sunday?) and escalated (‘small town besieged by wild goats’ sort of thing), even hitting the BBC. Someone started a petition to save the goats and the persecutor/victim/rescuer pattern was complete.  And then, inevitably, a tv crew arrived. A strange thing, a tv crew. They have the promise and threat of a band of guerillas passing through town. Except they don’t bring a manifesto, simply the promise of exposure. The goats, very sensibly, failed to appear, refusing to have their fifteen minutes of fame.

After a week, it seems to have settled down, but the episode has led me to ponder on how much of the news from afar is similarly fabricated, created in fact out of not very much. Whereas the real news is ignored, other than locally.

There have been two very good articles recently in the local paper, both by local health professionals. One was written by a doctor highly critical of the lack of good faith on the Government side in the hospital rebuild process, revealed by the absurd spending of $700,000 on consultant fees to save a supposed overrun of $1.6 million, an overrun easily covered by contingency. The other, necessarily anonymous article, was by the A&E staff, pointing out that the A&E Department reaches only 16% fitness on the current earthquake scale, and that when the new Health and Safety Regulations kick in, the charge nurse becomes liable, if the building collapsed, to a $600,000 fine for operating a business in an unsafe environment.  Not only that, but quite possibly, patients’ health or life insurance could be void for choosing to be treated in the building. Given such circumstances, a rebuild would seem to be a top priority. To cap it all, the same Department which is being very dilatory spends $19 million dollar on an overrun in the refit of its head office. This scandal would seem to be worthy of the national news, even the international news, rather than a family of goats munching in some empty sections.

But that’s the nature of the news, and it is an addiction. Even though we know it’s bad for us, we continue to consume.

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