Dissemination of news: Blogosphere vs. Website

How do you get updated on the latest news?

Do you read the newspaper or the internet?

If you read online news update, which sources do you trust the most of choose to trust? Does the reports from these sources influences the way you think, analyze or even affect your judgment?

This time around we will study the news report not from the official media broadcast or any sorts of news channel but news transmitted through blogosphere. Official news website are basically abide to certain obligation that requires them to only report news according to certain standard. Blogosphere present more freedom in reporting and therefore we could access to their opinions on the issue which is highly unlikely to be found in official website.

We have decided to compare and contrast the narratives of few different blogs to understand the pattern of reports presented in blogsphere on plane crash. The year 2014 has not been a good year for Malaysia particularly in their history of air travels. Throughout 2014 alone, Malaysia lost three of their airplanes from two main aircraft company; Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia in a tragic and deathly crash. However we will only be comparing news on MH370 and MH17.

After the planes were reported missing from the radar, almost instantly, news portals were bombarded with the updates on the incidents. Everyone wants to know what exactly happened to those planes. Though not many answers were given, plenty of news regarding the status of both planes was taking over not only the social media but also the primetime news. Social media were exploded with pictures of the MH17 crime scenes while speculations regarding the missing MH370 spread like rapid fire online. Although some of the news catered to the people’s curiosity around the world, it begs the question as to what to believe? With so many news appearing on various news portals, how does one determine those stories to be newsworthy?

What news websites reports:

According to the recap reports by official news website (The Associated Press, 2014), the first one involves the mysterious disappearance of MH370 on March 8 with 239 passengers aboard from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The mystery of it remains till today as months of over haul search for it has failed despite the advanced searching equipments used. The suspected cause analysis of it was due to running out of fuel that resulted in crash. Prior to that, officials deny the involvement of terrorism but conspiracy theories. Overall, these possibilities and analysis could only be confirmed when the wreckage is found and examined. On the other hand, the same source of report on the second case of plane crash, MH17 disseminated the news that the flight traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur had been brought down by the rebel-held eastern Ukraine. The July 17 incident involves 298 passengers and cabin crew. The main cause of it was believed by Dutch air crash investigators to have been struck by multiple “high-energy objects” such as missile as speculated by the aviation experts. The ground-to-air missile according to a high-ranking rebel officer was released as they have mistaken the commercial plane for a Ukrainian military plane. Conversely, MH17 was claimed by Russian media to have been shot by Ukrainian jet. Nevertheless, International criminal investigation coordinated by Dutch prosecutors to attend to this incident which the suspects or the charges of crime is yet to be revealed. The international teams were reported to be facing difficulties in retrieving hunks of the wreckage, remains and salvage evidence as there are clashes between Ukrainian government and Russian-backed separatist rebels.

What blogs report:

On the other hand, based on dissemination of the same issues in blogosphere present some similarities and dissimilarities The first blog to be reviewed here is by Pradhan (2014) titled “Malaysia Airlines MH370 crash PLANNED & WHY?”. Pradhan (2014) started his post by stating his position as what he termed as “a normal global news follower” to which is then followed by his interest, assumptions on the news of MH370. Apart from that, in order to avoid being accused of spreading rumours, he has provided several links to support his arguments, analysis and conclusion to his “research”. His research in way seems to be of his interest to uncover the truth and trying to make sense of the whole mysterious incident to which he believes was all planned out by some particular group.

The second blog is by Shilling (2014) with the title “The evidence is now overwhelming that the Kiev military shot down Malaysian airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine”. Shilling (2014) presented his evidences on the incident by compiling regular updates on the latest news up on the same blog post to which like Pradhan (2014) has also included links of news sources for readers to read or refer to. Although he updates it regularly, he did not just extract the news from certain particular sources but he actually includes different sources on each updates to compare the news and evidences present. This is to avoid any bias elements as the background of that website or news sources such as their sociopolitical beliefs will influence the way they present their report.

Similarities & differences in report style

Both blogs seems to have the same idea and direction whereby both seek to unveil the truth with their assumption and evidences that they have presented. Apart from that, both of them appear to have done their own ‘research’ based on multiple readings from different sources in an attempt to avoid any form of biasness. However, the first blog provide the readers with the base and background of his subjects before presenting his own idea. There is coherence in his idea and assumption. On the other hand, the second blog which mainly extract and report news with minimal attempt to impose any influence on the readers.

Among other similarities found between blogs are the way they create their catchy title to grab the interests of people to read their full write ups. From the title itself, we could actually foresee the author’s style of writings and his direction. For instance, “[MENGEJUTKAN] Benarkah MH17 Itu Sebenarnya MH370 Yang Hilang?” (Boc, 2014), “RAHSIA KONSPIRASI MH17 DAN MH370 TERBONGKAR!! … TERKINI: Amerika menggelupor dan Australia terpaku !!!” (Kzso, 2014) and “Busted! MH-17 Was in Fact the ‘Lost’ Flight MH-370” (Light, 2014) are all blogs with the same interest which is to expose or unveil what they have perceived as truth or to present their assumption that the official news channel would not be covering particularly those involving political view.

Their content would usually present certain questions or points which challenges or requires the readers to ponder upon. Apart from that, since news are first conveyed through the official news channel, blogs seek to question the information given by the mainstream medias thus explains why most of the news in blogs are opinion-based with accumulation of information from different sources as their supporting details and evidences.

What makes up news?

According to Evangelical Press Association (2015) there are seven aspects that makes a story worthy of the name “news” and those are timeliness, proximity, impact or consequence, novelty or rarity, conflict, human interest and prominence. Timeliness concerns with the timeline of the news. Like the “new” in news, the newer the news, the better. Nobody is interested in yesterday’s news. It is better to serve the news when it is still “fresh” and attracting the people’s attention. However, it can dangerous when the news is reported before it is ready which can lead to lack of facts and merely contain speculations. Hence, double-checking is a must when writing any online news. On the other hand, people are more interested in events that hit close to home. MH17 is not the first plane to crash nor does MH370 the first plane that went missing. So why do Malaysian became vastly interested in MH370 and MH17 incidents compared to others of the same cases? Simple. A plane crash involving a Malaysian plane is much more appealing to Malaysian than a plane crash involving say, Turkish Airways. Thus, it is natural for Malaysian to take the news “personally” rather than view it like any other news. This is what proximity implies. The next aspect according to the Evangelical Press Association (2015) is impact or consequence.

“Does it matter?”

That is the question every journalist should ask before writing any news. Will the story that they wrote make any impact on their readers? Of course, it is vital to give out information but the relevancy is also an important matter. Journalist cannot simply write a news without thinking about the consequences. In the case of a plane crash, the family members of the victims are the ones that are most affected by the incident. See the examples below:

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The first picture was a news taken from an online news portal, Astro Awani while the second picture was a post on a personal blog. See the difference in the news reporting? The former are more precise and objective in reporting the news with facts to support the claims while the latter is more opinionated and rather biased. I am sure the family members are more concern about the latest news regarding the plane crash instead of a conspiration theory by someone they hardly know. Besides, a wrong kind of information can hurt the feeling of the victim’s family members who are already in mourning. Therefore, it is better to think about the impact of the story before publishing any news. Next is novelty or rarity. Is it an unusual story? Plane crash does not always happen. But when it happened, expect it to be on the front news of every newspaper in the world. Everyone will want to know the details as soon as possible and obviously the news stations would want to be the first to cover the news. Meanwhile, the fifth aspect, conflict tells about how a story needing conflict to attract readers because frankly, everybody loves a little conflict (The Evangelical Press, 2015). However, this can also put a negative light to a news due to misinformation for the sake of attracting readers. “A depressed pilot deliberately crash plane” is certainly an eye-grabbing title but whether it is based on facts or merely speculations only the writer can decide. Next is human interest. According to The Evangelical Press (2015) this one is a bit hard to define but in general people are interested in other people. For example, a fire burning an empty building is not as interesting as a fire burning someone’s home. While the last aspect, prominence is also part of human interest. People are more interested in famous people than ordinary people. For example, if Randy Clark, a farmer from Texas had an affair, it would not be on the news. However, if the President of United States of America had an affair, it is front-page news. The same goes to plane crash. A plane crash is a serious matter but the level of interest differs. That is why a plane crash that killed hundreds of people from different countries is far more interesting than a small, private plane that crash without killing anybody.

Leigh  (2009) adds that a good story must be simple but accurate. Avoid thinking by using “jargon, formal language, complicated sentences and going to a great details” can make a story sounds important. It only makes it boring. It is wise to report the story with facts in a language that can be understood by everybody or use an analog if it helps to explain the concept better. These aspects of newsworthiness, if being considered can make a good and quality story. Hence, not only will it give information regarding certain events to the audience, it can also boost the writer’s credibility.

References

Evangelical Press Association. (2015). Journalism 101: What makes a story newsworthy?. Evangelical Press. Retrieved from http://www.evangelicalpress.com/jou101/

Leigh, V. (2009). How to write a news story. Retrieved from https://www.embl.de/aboutus/communication_outreach/writing_news_story.pdf

Pradhan, G. (2014, March 27).Malaysia airlines mh370 crash planned & why?.Retrieved from http://drgauravpradhan.blogspot.com/2014/03/malaysia-airlines-mh370-crash-planned.html

Shilling, I. (2014, July 18). The evidence is now overwhelming that the kiev military shot down malaysian airlines flight mh17 in ukraine. Retrieved from http://ian56.blogspot.com/2014/07/malaysia-airline-flight-mh71-crash-in.html

Light, A. (2014, July 25). Busted! MH-17 was in fact the ‘lost’ flight MH-370- updates [Blog post]. Retrieved from Humans Are Free. http://humansarefree.com/2014/07/busted-mh-17-was-in-fact-lost-flight-mh.html

Boc, G. (2014, July 28). Benarkah mh17 itu sebenarnya mh370 yang hilang?.  Retrieved from http://greenboc.blogspot.com

Kzso (2014, December 12). Rahsia konspirasi mh17 dan mh370 terbongkar!! … Terkini: amerika menggelupor dan australia terpaku!. Retrieved from http://kzso.blogspot.com

The Associated Press. (2014, December 28). Missing airasia flight is third malaysia air disaster in 2014: a look at malaysia’s air disasters this year. Haaretz. Retrieved from http://www.haaretz.com/news/world/1.634098

Bernama. (2015, January 15). Belanda akan teruskan siasatan terperinci penembakan MH17. Astro Awani. Retrieved from http://www.astroawani.com/berita-mh17/belanda-akan-teruskan-siasatan-terperinci-penembakan-mh17-52583#

Mustafa, M. (2015, January 29).  Hurt and angry, MH370 families reject ‘death’ announcement. The Malaysian Insider. Retrieved from http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/hurt-and-angry-mh370-families-reject-death-announcement

Smith, A. (2015, January 29). Malaysian Airline 370 declared an ‘accident’, search for survivors ends. NBC. Retrieved from http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/missing-jet/malaysia-airlines-mh370-declared-accident-search-survivors-ends-n295916

P/s: Move cursor to image for image source.

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