Well here we go again, another plane crash. As you would expect, the world, and by the world I mean the media is making such a big deal out of this. So big that they sort of ignored another crash that happened in Sudan which killed 41 people.
The cable news culture has created some sort of hype towards this kind of “news”. I mean of course it is important for people to know that this horrible thing has happened, and we should do our utmost to urge people that matters to make sure that air travel is safer. But, are we going too deep?
The recent theories circulating around this particular plane crash is the role of some sort of explosive or misile that supposedly hit the aircraft. And of course, after a lousy claim made by the Islamic State and the unclear theory of some european and british (supposedly) expert (who’re so expert they don’t even need to be there to conclude their theory) that we have to jump into a near conclusion that this is all a war crime.
I have to admit, an accident like this one, or the one involving Malaysian Airlines in Ukraine is like chrismast for any 24 hours news network. Not to delegitimise their intention or anything, but these kinds of news, with various theories and speculation, like it or not, grabs the viewers.
I am a media guy myself, and coincidentally, I am in charge of the International segment in my program, and even I find it crappy to report this theory. In fact, I tried as hard as I can to convince myself that I don’t have to report it that way. I failed.
I mean yes it’s in the Middle East, yes it’s a Russian plane, so it is only very tempting to make that kind of question. But after all the plane crash we reported, after all the accidents that happened over the year, haven’t we learned anything? Haven’t we got better in reporting this sorts of accidents? I mean at this point, we all know that it will take months, and most likely years before we will know for sure the cause of the accident. Should we still ask the question then?
It is literally like asking a NASA scientist when the Pluto picture due a day after they launch the rocket. Frankly they will just piss off and tell you to wait few years.
Jon Stewart once said in an interview with Rachel Maddow (great interview by the way, you should youtube it), that the cable network, the cable culture is diluting the news. He didn’t say exactly that, but that’s the idea that he is sending through. And it is a bloody good one.
Thing is, does news needs to be available 24 hours? Cause with that, everything and anything can be used as a breaking news. It becomes less of a news and more of a narrative, a story, or a drama perhaps. It may not necessarily be a bad thing, but most of the times, we ended up pursuing the drama and the theory more than the substance.
One can argue, that the rise of ISIS happens because the constant coverage by 24-hours news network that frankly just doesn’t have much to report about. Well that’s another theory I made up, so nevermind.
All I’m saying is that do we get the proper balance of information than speculation? Yes, the possibility is there that plane was brought down by a missile or explosive or whatever it is. But are we looking too much into it than it is really there?
The biggest problem would then not from the newsmaker perspective, but from the viewers and the kind of impact we are making towards them. News is not just about sending information. It is also about representing balance and order to the society. Everybody have the equal rights to get the information they deserve, but not everybody have the much-needed news judgment to create a sufficient conclusion in their head. Much of the time, it creates a snowball of phobia towards a certain action or beliefs that spark God knows what.
Modern journalism, modern media culture, modern information are constantly evolving and it is really hard to get a grasp on the ideal reporting. The producers are evolving, the fields are evolving, the audience are evolving, and the traditional media that we used to know, the news integrity that we used to be familiar with are being scrambled around and it makes me really sad and confused somehow. The rating system combined with the new media creates a confusion among news media, and at this time, I think we are not handling it well.
It is really discouraging and yet exciting times for news organisation really. It is like an injured footballer finding its way back to fitness. It maybe confusing to watch the way the play considering how great they used to score goals. But we just know that once they get the hang of it, they will make a wondrous show.
The great sadness of my life is that I never achieved the hour newscast, which would not have been twice as good as the half-hour newscast, but many times as good. – Walter Cronkite