What began as CNN’s newsworthy reporting of the missing Malaysian jetliner has turned into over-the-top theoretical analysis and unnecessary round-the-clock coverage. It’s important for media consumers to separate facts from hypothetical and for CNN to move back to pure journalistic reporting.
It’s evident that the issue is newsworthy; that’s undebatable. However, without important new information, there is no reason to continuously cover the missing plane. CNN makes it clear that ratings are of primary concern, coming before its duty to the public. Since the plane went missing, CNN’s audience has grown 86 percent among those ages 25 to 54, according to Nielsen ratings.
CNN has positioned itself as the place to turn to for major news. However, it has significantly undercut itself by focusing too much attention on the Malaysian jetliner, according to The Hollywood Reporter. While CNN feeds us expert theory after expert theory, countless reiterations of information and multiple assumptions, it is underrepresenting the international crisis in Ukraine, updates on Edward Snowden and the state of the global economy.
A CNN headline read, “Underwater search resumes for missing Malaysia Airlines plane”. That tells us nothing new. I understand that issues have risen over passenger passports, third-party affiliates and general speculation. Updating us based on these types of facts is welcomed, but CNN is missing the mark by reiterating and hypothesizing. While CNN is joined by other news sources in providing expert theories, they have done so to an extreme. Providing extensive expert opinion is unfair to the public because it offers no novelty in terms of information and clouds thought through hypothetical assumptions.
While the missing plane is both unfortunate and newsworthy, its coverage has become inappropriate. CNN has taken advantage of the public’s desire to be in tune with what is occurring and departed from true journalism by entering the realm of sensationalism. With the exception of occasional snippet updates, there is no need to continue coverage until theories become facts and missing turns to found. Right now, all we know is that 239 people have been missing since March 7.
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