Crikey Says

Mar 19, 2014

Crikey says: the MH370 mystery — are you still hooked?

Should Arthur Sinodinos walk? Yes, and no. The shareholder activist rule: it's harder than you think. What role Australia now has in finding flight MH370. Why we still allow animal testing of cosmetics. Julie Bishop is talking up Mongolia? Don't expect the EU to rescue Ukraine. And art and its patrons: history shows a difficult relationship.

How does a plane carrying 239 passengers just disappear? It's almost certainly at the bottom of an ocean, but where? Did it crash? Or was there foul play? A hijacker? The pilots? Why did it take so long to discover that the communications link was yanked and the plane diverted off its route? Why has the search effort been so haphazard? Why are the messages from officials so mixed? How did the Malaysian government cock this up so badly? The story has gripped the world like few before it, as much for the mystery as the details. As leading American media critic Howard Kurtz noted over the weekend, sparking a big debate stateside: "It's too much with too few facts." He was referring mainly to CNN, which has managed to cut through the partisan noise on Fox News and MSNBC to post record ratings for its all-plane-all-the-time coverage. Kurtz isn't the only one questioning whether the wall-to-wall coverage is overcooked. The interest in Australia is just as strong; it's led bulletins and been splashed across the papers since news broke. Crikey's blog Plane Talking, written by veteran aviation reporter and industry guru Ben Sandilands, is furiously documenting the case and racking up unprecedented traffic. We've featured Sandilands in Crikey Insider often, but our own newsroom has been somewhat divided on how much coverage the issue deserves. Responding to Kurtz, Jack Shafer of Reuters writes:
"For those of us who remain enthralled by it, who have used the story as an entry point into Malaysian politics or flight safety or satellite surveillance, you have nothing to apologize for. Readers have been giving themselves over to grand, mysterious stories that don’t directly affect them for five centuries. The news menu remains immense and varied. If you don’t like the MH370 story, do us a favor and pick something else."
So don't be embarrassed if you're obsessed with every twist and turn; many of us are. Tune out if you want. But be honest with us: does it deserve more coverage or less?

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7 thoughts on “Crikey says: the MH370 mystery — are you still hooked?

  1. frey

    It deserves less, a lot less.

    Actually, I should clarify.

    There should be significantly less pointless speculation and attemtps to uncover ‘facts’ by a media filling space or time that only hinders understanding (and makes out that the investigators are incompetent or inadequate). How many times has there been so called ‘facts’ (often from undisclosed sources where it is demanded that the Malaysian Authorities respond and/or refute.

    There should be significantly more reasoned reporting (which sgtill make up only a fraction of the current level of reporting offered.

  2. paddy

    Ben Sandilands blog has been, by far, the best coverage on the MH370 story. Every time there’s a new theory or revelation, that’s always the first place I head to for a dose of sanity.

  3. Bill Hilliger

    Arthur walked!

  4. Bill Hilliger

    Mea culpa above comment refers to next item.

  5. klewso

    If we could just keep the media kamikaze speculation in a holding pattern?

  6. Bob the builder

    Less, please! From what I’ve seen, Ben Sandilands is all the coverage we’ve needed, most of the rest being waffle and endless, largely baseless, theorising from the ‘Speculation Experts’ that seem to pop up like mushrooms whenever something unusual or ‘newsworthy’ happens that can’t be immediately explained.

    Just report the facts please – whether that’s the actual disappearance, related stories about Malaysian politics, aviation safety, etc., etc. The rest is just a waste of time.

    As for Jack Shafer of Reuters: “If you don’t like the MH370 story, do us a favor and pick something else” I have done exactly that – for years!

    What amazes me is that the mainstream still can’t work out where all their readers are going – or why!

  7. fractious

    Re MH370: if by ‘coverage’ you mean the sort of speculative lunacy that passes for “information” in most media outfalls, then less – much much less – please. OTOH Ben Sandilands has consistently put facts and clear, concise analysis (something either completely absent or buried under mounds of irrelevance elsewhere) before anything else and of that, more please.

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