My daughter, who’s almost 10, was watching the news with me the other day when the story about the missing Malaysian Airlines flight 370 came on. She is a compassionate person. Yet she winced, “Oh, no, not again.” She hasn’t done that with stories about GM recalls, or other multi-day stories.
Maybe it’s because the news outlets feel an obligation to cover it, but, far too often, they really don’t have a heck of a lot to SAY. I saw on the local station WTEN (Channel 10) this week a news piece about singer Courtney Love’s theory about the flight – that it crashed – and about the number of Twitter retweets it got. I gently told my television set, “Please shut up.”
And if the local and national networks are bad, CNN is worse. The network has asked whether perhaps God stole the plane, if a black hole took the plane and whether a psychic had any insight. Yet an anonymous CNN executive praised the 24/7 station’s coverage. “It’s in our wheelhouse.” To which, as The Daily Kos noted, is totally correct:
Little actual information to be conveyed? Check. New “facts” constantly being trotted forth, only to be retracted as false a few hours or days later? We got that. Rampant uninformed speculation, often by people with absolutely eff-all expertise in anything remotely resembling the actual topic at hand? Oh yeah….
I subscribe to what Mark Evanier wrote recently, referring to Joe Brancatelli, his friend who covers the airline industry:
I’m not even sure we’re clear yet on what crime has been committed but yeah, Joe’s right about the lack of facts and more right about the shameless way the media once again proves that line from reporter Jack Germond that I quote here all the time: “We’re not paid to say ‘I don’t know’ even when we don’t know.”
I do think people expect real-life mysteries to be as “pat” as fictional ones and this expectation leads them to think they have something all figured out when they don’t.
Evanier, quoting MSBC’s Chris Hayes: People with zero evidence about what happened to that missing plane should stop using the situation to promote some fear-based agenda…
It’s not that I don’t care, or that I’m not interested, or fascinated. But it reminds me a bit of ABC News’ coverage when John Kennedy, Jr.’s plane went missing. They were on the air for seven hours straight, when a breaking news item, followed by regular updates would have been more appropriate, because, except to restate what they had already noted, there wasn’t much to say until the plane was found.
So I check the news once a day. Did they find the plane? No? Too bad. If I want to read all about it, the news websites will have more info. NBC News, for one, has spent less time on the Nightly News on the story, referring folks to its site. The New York Times article on why we are limited to options that flight crew can disable is important stuff.
Still, I’ll either check the TV news tomorrow, or if something actually substantial DOES happen – they saw something well off the coast of Australia on Thursday – I’m sure I’ll get a notification on one of the news feeds to which I subscribe.