Journalism

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: three things you should know

Anonymous intelligence sources and modern journalistas – we’ll never be able to trust another word we’re told.

Malaysia-370As I suggested the other day, Malaysia Airlines MH370 might go down as one of the great unsolved mysteries of our time. Or it might not. If you’re like me, you’ve probably been tracking the story with all kinds of curiosity, and there has certainly been a lot of material generated to serve the market for our curiosity.

If you’re following the story, there are three things to know/think about/keep in mind as it develops:

1) Anonymous sources. It seems like every article I’ve read in recent days has quoted Malaysian government officials who could not be identified because they were not authorized to speak about the story. The sheer volume of stories citing anonymice here suggests that either a) you have one or two guys who are busy as hell dispensing unofficial “information” or b) reporters are quoting anyone willing to talk to them. In neither case is the public’s interest in understanding exactly what’s going on being especially well served.

2) Sudden certainty. Up until today the official line from the authorities has been that they were considering a wide range of theories. Now, all of a sudden, they have decreed that the plane’s disappearance was the result of some kind of “human intervention” – hijacking, air piracy, pilot activity, something. This conclusion in and of itself isn’t problematic at all. Many people decided that the disappearance couldn’t have been a mechanical issue or a bombing days ago.

What’s interesting is that this newfound certainty wasn’t accompanied by any new information. Did they just all of a sudden become convinced by the same evidence they’d had for days or are they now in possession of new evidence that hasn’t been released? Hmmmm.

3) Spooks in da house. Our friend Sean Paul Kelley earlier pulled it all together over at The Agonist:

I have absolutely no idea what happened to Flight 370. I don’t even have any theories to offer you. This is all I will say at this point: intelligence officials are now commenting anonymously on the issue. This means we will probably never know the full truth of what has happened to this flight. Consider everything you read with a very critical and jaundiced eye.

Right. Intelligence officials. Commenting anonymously. And all of a sudden seeming more certain about things than they were yesterday. And “reporters” banging their laptops like crack-addled monkeys.

The conspiracy theorists are going to have a field day. And SPK is right – from this point forward (if you haven’t already been proceeding with caution), you cannot assume that anything you read on the story is factual. Spooks are the last people you can count on to tell you the truth, and our modern breed of “journalist” is too concerned with getting something exciting into print to waste time demanding accountability from their sources.

Categories: Journalism, World

3 replies »

  1. But what would they be covering up, you ask? Check this in this morning’s MIrror:

    Aviation experts say the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines plane has exposed worrying gaps Southeast Asia’s air defences.

    They point out the plane was apparently able to fly back across the South China Sea – a region of considerable geopolitical tension and military activity – then over northern Malaysia and towards India without being detected.

    Air Vice Marshal Michael Harwood, a retired British Royal Air Force pilot and ex-defence attache to Washington DC, says several nations will be “embarrassed by how easy it is to trespass their airspace”.

    He added: “Too many movies and Predator (unmanned military drone) feeds from Afghanistan have suckered people into thinking we know everything and see everything. You get what you pay for. And the world, by and large, does not pay.”