Malaysia Airlines’ missing plane hasn’t been found yet. Furthermore, hundreds of news reports are published every day that contain endless theories, but no real facts. . The whereabouts of 239 people on board are still unknown. It may be a new kind of hijacking where the hijackers keep the plane hidden for some time. Or it may be a new kind of terrorism wherein the Malaysia Airlines plane will eventually be used for some terrible purpose. Or it may remain lost forever. But one thing is certain, the plane is definitely somewhere.
The missing Malaysia Airlines plane and anti-journalism
Stories of the “missing” are more intense than other stories, fueling the imagination of readers and journalists alike. Journalism means providing information to readers. But in this case, a lack of information appears to be more compelling. There are free conspiracies for sale, says Michael Wolff of The Guardian. Talking about the Malaysian government’s sudden shift to the belief that the plane was hijacked, a senior U.S. official told The New York Times that it’s just a theory.
Unexplained phenomena lead to the democratization of journalism, ie, everybody is entitled to their own theory. Theories suggested so far include mechanical failure, terrorism, hijacking, mad pilot, aliens, a meteor and even reality show promotion.
It can be argued the obsessive interest in theories related to the unknowable is a kind of anti-journalism. In this sense, the missing Malaysia Airlines plane is a “good” story for modern journalism because nobody has to cover the wreckage and the story is really nothing more than cheap theories.
Mainstream media cautious about its claims on Malaysia Airlines plane
However, mainstream journalists have generally been cautious about their claims. For example, The New York Times said Friday, “…as investigators have examined the flight manifest and looked into the two Iranian men who were on the plane traveling with stolen passports, they have become convinced that there is no clear connection to terrorism.” This report came after it became clear that the plane’s identifying signal mechanisms were disabled and it had been diverted from its route.
This kind of restraint shows that the mainstream media is sticking to official sources such as the U.S. authorities and in-denial Malaysian government. It can be argued that mainstream journalists refusal to speculate in some sense just inspires conspiracists to offer their own version of events.