It has been over two months since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 lost contact with air traffic control and disappeared, triggering the most expansive search and rescue attempt in history. The hunt for Flight 370 continues to this day with a multinational coalition conducting a targeted underwater search in the Southern Indian Ocean.
The tragedy enshrouding the presumed loss of 227 passengers and 12 crew members has elicited extensive media coverage, with CNN providing non-stop coverage for weeks at a time. Typical of American media, the vast majority of this coverage has been rich in speculation and lacking in substance.
From extensive discussions of the Bermuda triangle and theories of black holes, to calling on psychics as expert contributors, American reporting has deviated from this traditional model of reporting to instead propagate misinformation and speculation. Discussion of conspiracy theories piques human curiosity and galvanizes viewership, but there is no place for such unsubstantiated reporting on stations claiming to provide corroborated news and relevant analysis.
To the chagrin of traditional journalists, such sensationalist reporting has proven highly popular. In the case of CNN, their round-the-clock reporting effectively doubled their prime-time ratings, resulting in their viewership temporarily outpacing Fox News’ audience for a short duration.
It is a tragedy in and of itself that America’s major news sources are incentivized to pass over stories of global significance in exchange for outlandish stories that garner viewership and advertising revenue. That American consumers of news are more intrigued by conspiracy theories than by reporting with the potential to impact their lives is a sad truth to confront in a world on the edge of conflict and crisis. The mainstream media’s coverage of this event proves that we have lost more than 239 innocent civilians – we have lost our commitment to responsible reporting as well.