Posted by Amanda Goodwin
I found myself angered after watching CNN yesterday. For nearly three hours, all coverage focused on the unknown whereabouts of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The plane went off the grid over the weekend and it has been all the news has talked about since. What happened to the plane and its 200-plus passengers is still unclear.
And that is precisely why the media’s coverage might be stepping over the line.
It is obvious that this event has the potential to be very tragic. But by profiling various passengers as potential threats—even terrorists—almost immediately after discovering that two passengers flew with stolen passports comes off as a bit rash, even insensitive. By painting the pilot and copilot in such a negative light by questioning their integrity based on their pasts, one has to also question the integrity of the media. It is likely that the plane crashed somewhere after it changed course, but it has not been confirmed. Many of the experts interviewed were unable to give a definitive answer to the reporters’ questions because everything is still speculative. The media’s job is to keep the public informed, not to incite panic.
As a result of this coverage, conspiracy theories have emerged. From elves, to pilot suicide, to North Korean terrorism, to ripples in the space-time continuum a la Lost, the Internet is buzzing. This isn’t the media’s fault, of course. But it becomes problematic when they start exploring some of these ideas as plausible.
This isn’t the first time the media have treated a situation like this. It is understandable that they are preparing for the worst possible scenario, but could they also be connecting dots that aren’t there? Do you think there are more sympathetic ways to go about reporting on situations like these?