The fate of the passengers and crew aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 was nothing short of tragic, but if anything was worse, it had to be the way the media played with the story. With no credible evidence, news outlets swung from one conspiracy theory to another and created scapegoats.
The following are some of the headlines that made their mark:
The friends and family of the pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah, already struck with shock and grief, were burdened with the additional responsibility of having to defend him.
Further evidence indicates that the pilots actually did their best to avoid the tragedy. One wonders what the press has to say now.
After doing its best to tarnish the reputation of the pilots, the media has not turned its guns on the Malaysian government.
Journalists must play a responsible role rather than misinforming the public, especially when the story is of such a sensitive nature.
The fact that Shah was a Muslim pilot with a homebuilt flight simulator, spotted wearing an anti-democracy t-shirt, and a relative of the country’s opposition leader was all the evidence the media needed to incriminate him. Of course, a routine pilot error or a mechanical failure could not have been responsible for the disappearance.
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Seems like a plot straight out of Hollywood’s next ‘plane-jacking’ movie and since Muslim baddies have long since replaced the ones from the Kremlin – what better storyline could one have?
“Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility” and that reporters should “test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent errors,” says the Journalism code of ethics.
But perhaps the biggest truth of the moment is the fact that the target of journalists these days is not real news but more the unrealistic goals or targets of viewership and ‘hits.’
Who wants to be bothered with plain old news anyways?