All story and no information

Selamat Omar, center, who's son Khairul Amri was on a missing Malaysia Airlines plane, speaks to journalists
Selamat Omar, center, who's son Khairul Amri was on a missing Malaysia Airlines plane, speaks to journalists

The missing Malaysia Airlines plane continues to occupy a prime spot on the news.

It continues to occupy a prime spot in general conversation in this very office. As I type, two colleagues are speculating. It remains lost without a trace.

While as human beings we feel a certain empathy for those on board, we are captivated by the fact that it has quite literally disappeared. The constant speculation is like junk food for our news appetites. We can’t get enough.

In this world where everything can be explained and there are, it seems, very few hiding places, when something happens we become like children again. As journalists, our job is to provide information. It’s a massive irony that a story which is essentially an information vacuum can pull in more readers and viewers, and in this case, most certainly has.

Our imaginations are gripped by the mystery of it. We’re looking everywhere for answers. This is Enid Blyton on an international disaster scale. The fact that authorities suspect that somebody on the plane may have been involved in the disappearance makes the search, and our constant viewing of it, even more exciting.

It was described this week as anti journalism. This constant running tap of news with very little actual facts surrounding it.

It’s strange how in the current anti tabloid era where you’re not a respectable news follower unless you berate the red top dailies, that it’s totally acceptable to watch wall to wall coverage of this on a loop.

Every expert from here to Malaysia, and back again is put on a panel to give their professional twopence worth on what ‘might’ have happened. Still of course, we don’t know exactly what happened at all.

While no one who is news hungry would ever admit it, the longer the mystery continues the better. The more conservative mainstream news is in its approach to the story, with carefully selected commentators, the more outraged the conspiracy theorists are. As an observer, have no doubt about it, you’re in a win win situation.

The news channels win with a permanent audience, as do the viewers. It’s info-tainment at its most powerful.

It’s funny. Regardless of how much technology changes, and despite the fact that it’s decades since that old fashioned notion of the hack standing in front of a politician with his pen behind his ear, one thing has remained the same. The world over, we still love our news. Meanwhile, the story rumbles on. See everywhere for no information.