ECU Professor Weighs In On Malaysian Jetliner Coverage

Experts have jumped from one cable news network to the next, giving their opinion on what may have happened the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner.

WITN wanted to know what the viewers take on that kind of coverage is. Opinion varies.

Jackie Hardee says, "I like covering every angle because way things are in this day and time, you never know what it could be."

"I think it's been a little overkill," says William Wagner. "They could just focus on the facts as they know them, rather than the theory. If they don't have anything to say that day, say that and move on."

And then there are the questions of journalistic ethics. Is it right to report on anything other than what is known?

WITN spoke with Associate Professor Brian Massey at ECU's School of Communication.

"We teach that you look for news and you report news. Speculation is just that. You don't report it," says Massey. "You go to try to verify it and see if there's fire where there might be smoke. Kind of reporting speculation for the sake of having a story the next day, that's not something that we teach them to do."

But Massey says coverage is driven by the viewer.

"The ultimate vote is with the audience," explains Massey. "If the audiences vote with their time, meaning they stop watching, that will reflect in the ratings which are key indicators in how much you can charge for advertising."

Malaysia Airlines flight 370 with 239 aboard disappeared March 8 on a night flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Family members say they're not being told enough about what happened.

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