27 November 2007

The Importance of Responsible Media

I was in a course relating to safety management. In one of the case studies, we looked at the Uberlingen Mid Air Collision involving Bashkirian Airline and DHL aircrafts. Everyone, all 71 of them (45 were school children), on both of these aircrafts died.

I will not discuss the details of the findings from the investigations and certainly not point at who is to be blamed for this tragedy. You can perhaps find a lot more details from the internet. However, I would like to draw your attention to the role media or rather the consequences when media reports irresponsibly.

What happened immediately after the mid air collision was that the media went in to cover the news. Some media, without establishing the facts, reported irresponsibly that the fault lies on the air traffic controller. Such kinds of media thrives on "spicing" up the events to win readership afterall. That eventually became a contributing factor to the air traffic controller being murdered by another man who lost his entire family (wife and 2 children) in that accident.

Media has a very important role when reporting cases like these. If they are not sensitive to the emotions and reactions of their readers/viewers, they could easily invoke another tragedy to happen. In this particular case, not only was the media (the irresponsible ones) insensitive, they made bias judgement even before the official investigation team concluded their findings and recommendations for improvements on safety.

A similar case happened closer at home during the 1950s(?) when the media was not sensitive to the local and religious sentiments which resulted in the Mariah Hertogh Riots.

From these two incidents, it led me to think that media must not only be objective, media has to be sensitive to the reaction of their readers. This also serves as a reminder to me that I too, have to exercise some control over what I write because what I write can be viewed by anyone. You'll never know who actually reads your blog.

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