Have you heard about the missing Malaysian airliner?
I bet you have. In fact, I bet you’re a little overwhelmed with the information numerous media outlets are distributing to the public. In the age of the internet it’s extremely easy to access information on a variety of topics ranging from how your favorite sports team is doing to how the President is handling the crisis in the Ukraine.
However as good of a job as the media does in keeping us informed sometimes it seems they go a little over the top. Take this current hot topic, the missing Malaysian airliner, for instance. When the story first broke people were obviously fixated over what happened. Where did it go? What happened to it? Is everyone ok? Are there confirmed fatalities? If there aren’t fatalities, how can one explain a plane disappearing over the ocean? I heard something about missing passports, what is the story on those? Is this linked to terrorism? If not how can we be sure?
Now these are all great questions. It’s always important for a news source to not only try their hardest to answer these questions but also make sure they’re informing the public with accurate information at the same time. Yet lately it seems with everything that is happening in this particular story the news media (including CNN and their “jet watch”) in fact bring up more questions than they answer. Numerous reports throughout mass media speculate on everything from terrorism to aliens. In order to satisfy all the questions some news outlets are taking a rather liberal creative licensing with how they’re presenting their information. In order to remain factual and unbiased many sources are simply speculating on what happened to the jet rather than answering any questions. And this would be OK if they didn’t simultaneously present their information as if they’re reporting on actual facts.
I believe everyone who is following this story truly hopes the jet is found and there are survivors. However that may not be the case. And it does a great injustice to the families of those on board that the media is presenting this news story as if it’s the Casey Anthony verdict all over again (I could probably write an entire book on that but let’s try and stay focused).
True reporting is objective reporting. True reporting means only dealing in facts and not speculation. Is it important to raise questions or theories on what happened? Yes. Is it OK to speculate on various theories with absolutely no credibility or evidence to support them? No. And I think this is the main problem we’re seeing with how this particular story is at the moment being told. In order to do a service to the families of those on the Malaysian airliner and to all those who are just as concerned as to the whereabouts of the plane, let’s keep it simple and report only on what we know and not what we think makes a juicy headline.