Is Criticism of CNN’s Coverage of Missing Malaysian Flight MH370 Justified?

It’s been nearly four weeks now since Malaysian Flight MH370 has seemingly disappeared without a trace. Anxious family members of the missing 239 passengers, including the pilot, co-pilot and crew, are riddled with questions and awaiting answers to the questions of whether they are truly dead or whether they are still alive somewhere.

In a multi-national search end recovery effort, manned by many countries and their resources, they’re questions that everyone has had and still have as they come up with no further answers after days of expensive searching the Southern Indian Ocean.

It’s not clear to even seasoned reporters or panel experts on news stations, just how the current search areas were arrived at. With countries like India, China and even Malaysia, not being forthcoming with information that may have helped us understand further, searchers are fumbling around in a vast ocean that in some places, are over 7 miles deep. It’s all guess-work. No one really knows and suspicion is cast upon the Malaysian government for the mishandling of what now, seems to be a badly run search from Day One.

CNN, the news channel with correspondents all over the globe, has been covering this mysterious loss almost 24 hours a day with little other news coming into play. It’s taken a lot of criticism for the heavy concentration on this story with countless experts and talking heads, going over each and ever detail known to the moment.

For those obsessed with this internationally involved mystery, it’s more than just curiosity. Many believe that Flight 370’s fate is not in the search area while others, believe and hope that it rests elsewhere with best case scenario, all of the passengers are alive.

Whatever else it is, there are 239 lives at stake and millions of dollars being spent, looking for them. It deserves coverage and people want it. The only question is, has CNN gone overboard with its nearly exclusive coverage, even when there’s been nothing new to report and the experts have nothing new to add?

Perhaps, Jon Stewart, host of “The Daily Show” might have offered up some levity to the questions when he said,

It seems that the only thing CNN has really learned from three weeks of coverage is that the ocean is filled with a lot of trash. “Who knew the ocean was such a big mess?” one CNN correspondent asked.

Stewart: “Yeah, who knew the place where we dump a tremendous amount of our trash is filled with a tremendous amount of our trash. What do you think happens when you flush the toilet?”

Sure, maybe CNN is just trying to be helpful. But when it takes to explaining why some things float and others sink – well, it’s a lost cause.

True enough that hours have gone by on air with nothing more than coverage of how much garbage the ocean contains.  I think we’ve all come to the conclusion that the world is like a giant pig pen and we’re all slopping in our own filth.  It’s also easy to see that show host such as Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer (better known for his political coverage) have struggled to ask “how much garbage is there really in the ocean” and, “where does all of this garbage come from”, thirty-five different ways. There’s only so many ways for people to say it and, we’re all tired of hearing it.

Yet, people will sit glued to their television sets, watching images of Anderson Cooper and other CNN correspondents, blowing around in driving winds and rain during 24/7 coverage of hurricanes in the U.S.A.   What makes the difference?  Is it only considered worth 24/7 coverage if it’s part of news that affects America and Americans?

Perhaps, that’s it.

Right now, CNN has full coverage turned to the Fort Hood shootings.  No doubt this story will trump all other news stories for hours and perhaps, days to come.  There will be experts on who can give backgrounds on every side, slant and angle they can find to fill air time on this story.  People won’t complain about it because, it’s American involved news.  It won’t matter what they cover over and over again in thirty different ways.  People will tune in and not have anything to complain about in terms of over-coverage.

In the meantime, 239 people have either died or are alive somewhere and no one knows where they are.  While not at all downplaying the tragedy of the Fort Hood shootings in any way, by contrast, four people have died thus far and accounts have varied between 14 to 30 people injured to some level or another.  That’s a 235 death difference at the moment of writing this piece.

It will certainly be interesting to see what the comments are going to be on CNN’s coverage of this story.  Will there be the same criticisms if the news is now dominated solely by this case?  It will be interesting to see.  .

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