Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

March 28, 2014

What happened to the rest of the world?

VALDOSTA — Coverage of the missing Malaysian airliner has dominated national and international newscasts during the past few weeks.

The story remains compelling for many reasons. These reasons have ranged from terrorism concerns to technological issues to who were the passengers and who were the pilots.

The missing plane also defies our modern expectations. Planes aren’t supposed to disappear in the 21st century. Especially giant airliners. Disappearing planes belong to the past. The phenomenon belongs to the early and mid 20th century, and yet, here in 2014, with all of contemporary aviation’s advances, a plane has disappeared as if it were filled with more than 200 Amelia Earharts.

And then there is simply the human fascination with the unknown, with mystery, which is why most readers still understand the Amelia Earhart reference even though she and her plane vanished more than 75 years ago.

So, there are many newsworthy and human reasons for actively covering the missing plane, but do we really need the minute-by-minute speculation that has swamped national news for the past few weeks?

Do we need the speculation on the pilots’ and passengers’ intent with no evidence of wrongdoing? The repetition of speculation in the face of no news? The placement of reporters in plane simulators? The what-if scenarios of a “zombie plane,” a “Bermuda Triangle”-type vanishing, a hijacking plot that carved a massive runway into a remote jungle, a mass alien abduction, something akin to the old TV show “Lost”?

Did we really need all of that with everything happening with Russia? With the “vote” in Crimea? With the actions around the Ukraine? With the volleys of escalating sanctions between the U.S. and the Russia? With even a younger generation that has no memory of the Soviet Union wondering if we’re teetering along the abyss of another Cold War or World War III?

And all any of us can find flipping through the news channels are people speculating on the missing plane, leaving many to wonder, what happened to the missing news?

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