Saturday, March 22, 2014

CNN - Conjecture, Not News

From -

"Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a Boeing 777 on the way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, simply vanished from the sky on March 8. In the two weeks since, the mystery of what happened to its 227 passengers and 12 crew members has set off a frenzy of speculation and conspiracy theory hatching..."


I am by no means am a resource when it comes to mass media criticism.  I don't have cable nor even terrestrial TV in my home. I stream everything and read different blogs and websites to get my news.  As a kid, I used to think having 24-hour news channels was such a cool thing.  If you want to watch the news and know what's going on, just turn it on the TV and get what you need to know within 30 minutes.  I couldn't get that with my major 3 networks. I had to wait until 5, 6 or 10 PM CT to get my news

As our society has become more and more demanding of immediacy, news channels have had to turn to different tactics to keep viewership levels up and keep people interested in coming back.  One of those is to make the mundane seem exciting regardless of the consequences.  That's exactly what CNN has done with this plane that has gone missing on the other side of the world.

CNN has done non-stop coverage of the event.  If I were in the news reporting business, this is an incredibly sexy news story; by sexy, I mean perfect - tragedy, death, destruction, human emotion, technological failure, mayhem - everything a sycophant news agency would want to report on.  I am not saying that I get off on stories like these; I am merely stating that news people do because its what the entire American news reporting infrastructure is based on.  I'm not knocking CNN for taking the story because if I were them, I would cover it.  However, I am knocking them for reporting on it for 14 days straight...

...because beyond effectively Day 2, there's nothing new to report.


Here's what we haven't known since Day 2:
  • Where the plane is.
  • Why the plan disappeared.
  • Whether or not the plane crashed.
  • If if did crash, where the flight recorders are.
  • If it didn't crash, where the plane landed.
  • Who was involve din the disappearance.
  • Whether or not government agencies involved in the search and rescue operations are sharing everything they know.  
  • Whether or not the information being gathered is accurate.
If you look at that short list of things we don't know, you would think, "Wow. There's a lot we don't know.  Let's wait to see if they find something and then report it."  Nope. Not CNN.  They've been doing the following ad naseum, 24X7:
  • Covering this story while disregarding more recent, fact-filled news such as the crisis in Crimea, earthquakes hitting California, North Korean missile launches, etc.
  • Bringing on "experts" in related fields to give their opinions on what could've, should've, would've happened given an arbitrary list of scenarios.  They basically sit on a panel to guess and speculate what could have happened.
  • Until recently, they were labeling everything as "breaking news".  I think they've started seeing enough negative reaction that today they dropped that moniker.  They still report on the place like they doing previously but now they're no longer calling it "breaking news" (it's kinda hard to call it breaking news after let's say Day 3 or 4 when they have nothing new to report).
  • Acting as if any and every piece of news is important enough to spend hours rehashing the same information .  Recently they found unidentified objects floating in the water from satellite imagery that are large enough to maybe be parts of the plane.  What they don't stress very often is the fact that the imagery is at least 2-4 days old which means the information is no longer accurate.  It's automatically asking for conjecture to be made to be acted upon.  However, CNN reports on it as if they are close to cracking the case wide open.
  • Asking a lot of rhetorical questions such as "How is it possible something so big can just....disappear?!" or "With all of the technology we have where we can send men to the moon and guide drones remotely, why is the technology on the plane so antiquated?" 
Why is CNN, which I thought was supposed to be a news network, spending an extraordinary amount of time on this?  It's not that the story doesn't deserve any time but based on my won non-scientific, anecdotal watching of the channel, they spend roughly 30-45 seconds out of every hour on a different news story but then immediately jump back to some bullsh*t plane-related story where the would've/should've/could'ves return.   What is the endgame here with CNN doing this?

I realize that all of the 24X7 American news channels are doing the same but CNN seems to be the worst.  By being so flagrant with their shoddy reporting, they've diminished any real credibility as a news organization.  They're basically the TMZ of news porn.  I don't go to TMZ to get news that matters about celebrities.  I go there to be entertained and that is exactly what CNN is doing.  Why?!!

I feel trapped now.  What am I supposed to watch and where am I supposed to get my news?  Should I just stop watching American news all together?  Are the alternatives much better?  If you've got some help in that arena, please comment below and let me know.