The Changing Ways of Cable News

By Chris Belluschi ’14

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 departed from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on March 8. It was scheduled to land a few hours later in Beijing, China, but never did. In the time since, search parties have been sent and recalled, and all hopes have waxed and waned. The one constant in this story of mysterious catastrophe is the  never ending coverage by news outlets from around the world. Though the plane has not been found, the media has persisted, and many news outlets (of varying notoriety) have turned to conspiracy theories and elaborate diagrams to fill the time until the plane is, if at all, found.

Categories on CNN’s website separate the many articles about the missing plane into easily distinguished groups. (Photo: CNN)

Categories on CNN’s website separate the many articles about the missing plane into easily distinguished groups. (Photo: CNN)


Though many viewers of CNN, FOX, NBC, and other news sources quickly realized the “breaking” news of the lost plane soon reached gigantic proportions of mundane haberdashery, it was Jon Stewart who brought the issue to the forefront with a lampooning montage of all the silly segments CNN was using to cover the disappearance of the airplane. From rumours of a “zombie plane” to a segment about their own correspondent hosting a three-week long flight simulator segment, CNN seems to have exhausted all potential ways to cover the missing plane.


Though there seems to be a growing sentiment that CNN is not the right destination for “real” news, Marc Ambinder of The Week argues that critics of CNN are living in the past: “We don’t get our breaking news now from cable. We get it from the internet, or radio (still).”


The basis of his defense is that, in this day and age, people receive news from around the world as it happens, and CNN is merely adding to what people already know by potentially expanding the mindset of viewers and their knowledge about certain events. He wrote that CNN is revolutionizing the way we see our news, and showing up other cable news outlets by “owning” this particular story of the missing flight. He argues that CNN is doing on a big scale what smaller non-profits have done in recent years, investing in atypical news-gathering efforts.


This new way of reporting could lead to scores of people being mindful of different possibilities, and thus a greater public conversation on the news that matters. While highly mysterious, the hypothetical whereabouts and reasons for the disappearance of the plane are not necessarily important for the improvement of public dialogue. When it comes to more important news which will have an impact on the citizens of America and the world such as American intervention, uprisings in the Middle East, and Chinese pollution, alternative hypotheses and knowledge of potential outcomes will be optimal centerpieces for conversation of a conscious culture.


The way CNN is reporting this news (whether for better or worse) is revolutionizing the way people view the events that affect them. Conceivably other cable news outlets will follow suit in a positive way, not by asking if a plane was swallowed up by a black hole on Earth, but by asking constructive questions that will allow the public to be better informed and more independent in their views of the news.