Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

A Plea to the Media: Leave the Family Members of those Lost on Malaysian Airways Flight 370 Alone

with 2 comments

For the past seventeen or eighteen days, depending on which side of the globe you’re on, it seems that every news person in the world has been covering the strange and sudden disappearance of Malaysian Airways flight 370, abbreviated as MH370 for short.

Every night, news organizations such as CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, BBC America, and others have breathlessly reported on any available lead as to where this plane went. Various theories have been expounded, some having to do with Visual Flight Rules and how they might apply (if you’re flying low, you’re on VFR), some having to do with why the pilots might have simulators in their houses, various scenarios about how the cockpit might have had a catastrophic accident, and many, many more.

During all this time, the various families of the passengers who’d boarded MH370 expecting a safe and sedate flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing have been inundated with all of this. They’ve had to try to remain calm, even as the reputations of the pilots have been besmirched over and over again; they’ve been told all sorts of conflicting information, as no one can even seemingly figure out exactly where the flight may have gone down.

Worst of all, the Malaysian Prime Minister, a man by the name of Najib Razak, seemingly says something different every single day. He can’t confirm anything, because the information is constantly changing, and the satellite data coming in from other countries seems to directly contradict anything he says anyway.

So when Mr. Razak said earlier today (as reported by Wolf Blitzer on CNN) that there is now “conclusive evidence” that MH370 went down in the Indian Ocean and that all passengers and crew must be accounted dead, who can blame the families for not believing him?

See, the families are in between a rock and a hard place. They want information; they have to know that it would be an increasingly long shot for anyone to survive in the cold ocean in choppy seas without land, even with floatation devices and possibly some food and a bit of water, after seventeen-plus days. But the information must be impeccable, must be comprehensible, and must be logical.

More to the point, every available authority should agree on it.

Because after all this time, with all of the information that’s been thrown at them day after day after day, the families of the passengers and crew of lost MH370 have to be completely shellshocked.

That being said, the families have reacted with dismay, frustration, loss, and a whole lot of screaming to the recent revelations by Prime Minister Razak. All of this is completely understandable.

What isn’t understandable is why the media insists on showing these poor people being carried out on stretchers, screaming at the top of their lungs while gesticulating wildly, or other scenes of pain, loss, and outright suffering.

Where is the decency of the media? Why aren’t they treating these poor families the way they, themselves, would wish to be treated if for some reason their family members and loved ones had gone down on MH370 instead?

Granted, not every media outlet is showing the screaming. MSNBC seems to have restrained itself, for the most part, especially in recent days, for which I thank them. Fox News has not shown a lot of that, either, during the past four or five days. I don’t think BBC America has shown much in the past few days (though it showed a lot more earlier), and that’s a good thing as well.

But CNN definitely has.

Worse, it keeps doing it, and shows no sign of stopping any time soon.

My view is simple: The media needs to leave these poor families alone. (Yes, CNN, I’m looking squarely at you.) They have suffered enough as it is.

And unfortunately, they will continue to suffer for a very, very long time, even if the current information is absolutely accurate and even if the bodies of their loved ones are eventually found and recovered.

The only thing CNN and other media outlets like them are doing at this point is to prolong the agony of the suffering families.

And that, my friends, is just wrong.

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2 Responses

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  1. The Malaysian Government is not very competent. Chris Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2014 18:30:57 +0000 To: christopher_g_nuttall@hotmail.com

    chrishanger

    March 25, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    • That’s what it seems like, Chris. And in this situation, to have different information show up day after day after day, _then_ to tell the families that “all hands have been lost” and having the airline (which admittedly isn’t connected to the government, but still) send a *text message*, of all things, to the grieving families?

      This particular tragedy has been mishandled right, left and up the middle. So I don’t blame these poor families *at all* at this point for wanting to believe their loved ones are still alive — even though it’s a very, very long shot unless the plane was hijacked and landed at this point, as even if people had survived a crash, being in the water for days on end little-to-no food and zero fresh water is a recipe for disaster in and of itself.

      If the families want to come forward and tell people off, I think that’s their prerogative. But watching people as they grieve openly is not my cup of tea. I feel for those families, and hope they get some hard information that is crystal clear, so they’ll know what happened to their loved ones and be able to believe that knowledge.

      Whatever happens, though, I hope the media will respect the privacy of these grieving families. Because these people are not public figures; they’re just people, who expected firmly to pick up their family members at the airport in Beijing eighteen-plus days ago . . . but are now trapped in a nightmare.

      Barb Caffrey

      March 25, 2014 at 5:04 pm


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