Can a global conscience still be stirred?

There are moments in the course of news cycles that define humanity.

One was the the BBC/NBC News report on the Ethiopian famine in 1984. It was a report that literally changed the world. It so shocked us that it resulted in the greatest outpouring of charity in the late 20th Century.

Television was able to awaken a global conscience.

I thought of the impact of the story because of the collective world shrug of an identical one received this week. It’s the 60 Minutes piece on the intentional starvation of people in Yemen. Sixty Minutes couldn’t report the story itself; the Saudis closed the airspace in Yemen to prevent the journalists’ plane from landing. Sixty Minutes got the story anyway.

It never registered a blip on the U.S. news radar. (See the video)

In spite of the indifference to the broadcast — at least here — the BBC reports today that the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has decided to reopen the Red Sea port of Hudaydah “to receive urgent humanitarian and relief materials.”

It is much more difficult now for television — any news outlet, really — to awaken a conscience than it was in 1984.