MH370: In Tragic Times, Does the Media Help or Hurt?

The story of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 is one the world latched onto over the last few weeks. From the moment the flight was lost to the moment Malaysian Airlines declared the entire crew and all passengers lost, the world was watching. The world was listening in, reading, and watching on TV the updates of any new debris found that could possibly be a sign of MH370. The “Lost”-like story of this flight drew people in, as they asked how today’s technology could lose an entire flight of people and not locate them even after weeks of searching. I too have been tuned in with the media to see if and when this flight will be found. As the world has been watching, however, they’ve also had to sift through coverage “filled with rumors, false reports, and ambiguous information,” according to The Guardian.

This confusion is due to the fact that there are 12 nations participating in the search, the huge number of officials who are telling various stories and recommending conflicting leads, and the complicated way airplane searches are. The fact that everyone is continuously speculating as the search drags on is also a major factor.

One of the biggest problems I’ve noticed is that when news outlets report on this disappearance, they have a lack of citation of where they got their information. As a result, media outlets are not held responsible in finding the facts and have been reporting on any possible speculations that exist.

The news outlets are also taking it upon themselves to explain how airplanes work, including their “black box” satellite system, which is supposed to report a signal upon a plane crash or failure. These explanations are all generally confusing and make it even more difficult for the public to understand.

I especially think that in these situations, the media makes it worse on the families and also tends to treat the victims with a lack of respect. It almost seems like a competition to see who can find the downed plane first instead of a search to find the bodies and remains of the victims. Multiple media sources also present new information at varying times, which prolongs the exposure of this news to the public, including the families of the victims.

The discrepancies in what various media sources report and what is actually going on is common when tragedy occurs. This type of misinformation also occurred when the Boston Marathon bombing happened and especially when 9/11 took place. It just goes to show that one should not depend solely on the media in instances like these and that people trying to stay informed should expect misinformation.



Yuhas, A. (2014, March 13). Malaysia Airlines flight MH370: clarifying conflicting media
claims. The Guardian. Retrieved from

3 thoughts on “MH370: In Tragic Times, Does the Media Help or Hurt?

  1. I personally think that the media is exploiting the emotions of those who have been effected by the missing airliner. Time and time they post stories with headlines like “possible wreckage spotted” even though the writers clearly know it is another bogus irrelevant sighting. It demonstrates the media’s desperate thirst for “news” and the laziness of mainstream media companies to deliver accurate and newsworthy material and at the same time hurts the families of those affected.


  2. Yeah, I definitely think that the media violates its ethical code far too often. After taking media and ethics course a few semesters ago, I am much more aware of how the media is violating the rights of people and even victims. I agree, one should not depend solely on the media in instances like these and that people trying to stay informed should expect misinformation.


  3. The media is successfully playing off of our thirst for mystery and entertainment. This Malaysian Airline flight is being used more as a spectacle than a tragedy. The media knows that people want excitement and anticipation and so they are benefiting their industry successfully by making it less about real emotions and more about article views.


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