Dear Media: Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is not an episode of ‘Lost’

By Lee Williams, Communications Activist 

The media obsession with Flight 370 is almost into its third week and with no clear indication of slowing down soon.

No, this isn’t the hottest new sitcom to launch the spring season, but it reads like one. With compelling characters, intrigue, danger, and fantasy, this story has it all. Every few hours there is a new episode in the form of unproven theories, as though we are watching a live “Choose Your Own Adventure” novel. News coverage is more fictional than factual, and networks milking the story for all it’s worth. Since ratings and sensationalism are high, any story-line can spin without repercussion.

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BREAKING NEWS: Flight 370 located somewhere on planet Earth, but “it’s not 100%” confirmed.

Why do we get so attached to sensationalism? Though the mystery surrounding the missing plane is indeed tragic, the presentation of the coverage has become laughable. Each news report looks ripped from an episode of “Lost”. Currently, coverage has exploded the web into wild conspiracy theories, where viewers feverishly add their own two cents into the opinion pool. At this point, news networks may as encourage us to fill out our own March Madness bracket with what conspiracy or supernatural explanation is responsible for the missing flight, with a handsome prize for the winner.

In today’s market of ratings, generating likes, and shares, a compelling story could equal millions of dollars for the particular news network, even at the cost of exploitation at the expense of the victim’s families and spinning non-information.


CNN presents quality journalism by assuming the supernatural happened to the plane. 

The compelling story lines aren’t the only ingredients that make the story so fascinating, but perhaps also the public obsession can be explained due to a rupture in our human need for control. The plane vanished in our connected, technological word where we have all the answers. The disappearance reminds us of how powerless we really are.

However, like ‘Lost’ or any intriguing event, the Malaysia plane story is only compelling until it ends. Once the story is resolved, it too will become a victim of our short attention span. Until then, due to the mystery and fictional coverage, this story is capitalism at work.

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