Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Putting the ‘new’ back into ‘news’

Two and a half weeks or so after Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 went missing, we could somewhat confirm the area where the plane went down. Now that more information has been gathered, hopefully this issue can be put to rest for the sake of the families of the victims and the rest of the global population.

According to ABC News, we now know that the flight ended 1,500 miles in the south Indian Ocean. Everyone on board including the pilot and flight attendants were killed. Reports say that the plane went down between 8 a.m. and 9:15 a.m. Photos by French satellites indicate that there was a field of debris with 122 objects being dispersed over 400 miles. The debris was found on land and no floating objects from the plane have been recorded.

The chances of this story continuing are high. The chances of the news media never giving up and the families of the victims never losing hope regardless of what proof comes up is also high. I say this only because there has been nonstop news coverage ever since the airliner disappeared. To the media’s credit, this story was newsworthy for about a week because no one knew what had happened to the plane. Such a mystery is relatively rare and deserves attention.

About a week or so in, there were satellite photos from Asia and parts of the Western Hemisphere showing possible signs of debris off the western coast of Australia. But still, at that point, no one really knew what they were looking at. These photos made top story news headlines every single night on all of the major networks. Why is the same story the top story if there is no new information coming in?

In the upcoming weeks after the first reports of the missing airline, the news coverage turned into CSI for the nation. All of the big time stations hyped up what little factual information they had in order to create a juicy story.

This is the problem with news in America – eventually it can no longer be considered news as it saturates the airwaves with speculation. It is as if the American people are not focused on anything else going on in the world.

My heart goes out to the families of the victims in this terrible tragedy. But we have to remember that a story that starts off as important but fails to evolve before national and international media, eventually becomes a non-story. We have to learn when to turn the cameras off and move on to something more pressing.

The American media loves a good mystery – it is one of our many obsessions. We saturate our movies with sex and violence because viewers increasingly have less patience for plot build-up. We glorify violence in television and give awards for the best performances. In other words, in the same way that we so easily influence the content of movies and television shows, we can sway the content that the media determines as news.

The missing airliner story was at one point substantive news but it quickly became a mystery gone wrong for all the major networks. News does not have to be this way, but as long as ratings determine the fate of media companies, then no one will ever know when to turn the page to real news.

Isaac Simon is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected]

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