Home / Regular Issue / JTAS Vol. 29 (2) Jun. 2021 / JSSH-7603-2020

 

The Missing Narratives: Exploring the Experiences of Malaysian Journalists and Family Members and Friends of Victims during the MH370 Aviation Crisis

Lim Shiang Shiang, Ihediwa Samuel Chibundu and Sharon Wilson

Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science, Volume 29, Issue 2, June 2021

DOI: https://doi.org/10.47836/pjssh.29.2.24

Keywords: Aviation crisis, crisis reporting, framing, journalists, MH370, press freedom

Published on: 28 June 2021

The MH370 crisis which attracted global attention is considered one of the most perplexing disasters in aviation history by aviation experts. One of the highlights of the crisis was the alleged inability of Malaysian journalists to provide accurate information on the issue. Maximum news coverage, commentaries, expert views, and researches were carried out regarding the issue. However, most of them only focused on how Malaysian authorities handled the crisis. None ventured into Malaysian journalists’ perspectives particularly on their concerns regarding their coverage of the crisis. Therefore, this study seeks to investigate the perspectives of journalists from the selected newspapers on their framing of the crisis, the alleged inconsistencies in their coverage, and the perceived lack of access to information. By giving journalists a voice to express their views on their performance, it is hoped that will deepen knowledge and understanding of the dynamics of press freedom, ownership, and control in the country. Through qualitative data analysis, the study found that MH370 news frames were greatly influenced by both internal and external factors, ranging from individuals to state levels. They include lack of experience in aviation news coverage on the part of the local Malaysian journalists; the internal gatekeeping process by the news editors of various newspapers which tend to undermine the work of journalists; and the seen and unseen restrictions experienced by journalists and media houses at the state level.

  • Akhavan-Majid, R., & Ramaprasad, J. (2000). Framing Beijing: Dominant ideological influences on the American press coverage of the Fourth UN Conference on women and the NGO Forum. Gazette, 62(1), 45-59. https://doi.org/10.1177/0016549200062001004

  • Balasubramaniam, R. R. (2012). Hobbism and the problem of authoritarian rule in Malaysia. Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, 4(2), 211-234.

  • BBC News. (2014, March 16). Missing Malaysia plane: Malaysia requests countries’ help. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-26600361

  • BBC News. (2016, September 28). MH17 Ukraine plane crash: What we know. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-28357880

  • BBC News. (2020, October 22). Goldman Sachs to pay $3bn over 1MDB corruption scandal. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-54597256

  • Beh, Y. H. (2018, August 4). Continue search for MH370. The Star. https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/08/04/continue-search-for-mh370-many-questions-are-still-left-unanswered-say-kin-of-chinese-victims/

  • Bier, L. M., Park, S., & Palenchar, M. J. (2017). Framing the flight MH370 mystery: A content analysis of Malaysian, Chinese, and U.S. media. International Communication Gazette, 80 (2), 158-184. https://doi.org/10.1177/1748048517707440

  • Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101. https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa

  • Bruggemann, M. (2014). Between frame setting and frame sending: How journalists contribute to news frames. Communication Theory, 24(1), 61-82.

  • Coombs, W. T. (2015). Ongoing crisis communication: Planning, managing, and responding (4th ed.). SAGE.

  • Coombs, W. T., & Holladay, S. J. (2002). Helping crisis managers protect reputational assets: Initial tests of the situational crisis communication theory. Management Communication Quarterly, 16(2), 165-186. https://doi.org/10.1177/ 089331802237233

  • Daily Mail Online. (2015, February 12). Chinese relatives protest in Malaysia over MH370. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-2950293/ Chinese-relatives-protest-Malaysia-MH370.html

  • Entman, R. M. (1991). Framing U.S. coverage of international news: Contrasts in narratives of the KAL and Iran air incidents. Journal of Communication, 41(4), 6-27. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1991.tb02328.x

  • Entman, R. M. (1993). Framing: Toward clarification of a paradigm. Journal of Communication, 43(4), 51-58. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1993.tb01304.x

  • Entman, R. M. (2004). Projections of power: Framing news, public opinion, and U.S. foreign policy. University of Chicago Press.

  • Eric, L. (2013). Bridging the cultural gaps in journalism training and education in Asia. Konrad-Adanauer-Stiftung Media Asia Programme. https://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1668&context=lhapapers

  • Faisal, A. A. M. (2015, July 30). Whistleblowers unprotected under WPA? Malaysiakini. https://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/306738

  • Filippini, M. (2017). Using Gramsci: A new approach. Pluto Press.

  • Rodan, G. (2002). The implication of the Asian crisis for media control in Asia in reconfiguring East Asia regional institutions and organisations after the crisis. Routledge Curzon Press.

  • Gavin, H. (2018, May 4). MH370: Pilot deliberately avoided detection and flight disappearance was a criminal act. Express. https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/959577/mh370-malaysia-airlines-missing-plane-what-happened-mh370

  • Hall, S. (1990). Stuart Hall’s theory of ideology: A frame for rhetorical criticism. Western Journal of Speech Communication, 54(4), 495-514. https://doi.org/10.1080/10570319009374357

  • Hanggli, R. (2012). Key factors in frame building: How strategic political actors shape news media coverage. American Behavioural Scientist, 56(3), 300-317. https://doi.org/ 10.1177/0002764211426327

  • Hänggli, R., & Kriesi, H. (2010). Political framing strategies and their impact on media framing in a Swiss direct-democratic campaign. Political Communication, 27(2), 141-157. https://doi.org/10.1080/10584600903501484

  • Henderson, J. C. (2003). Communicating in a crisis: Flight SQ 006. Toursim Management, 24(3): 279-287. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0261-5177(02)00070-5

  • Hout, T. V., & Macgilchrist, F. (2012). Framing the news: An ethnographic view of business news writing. Text & Talk, 30(2), 169-191. https://doi.org/10.1515/text.2010.009

  • Ismail, A., Mohd, K. A., & Mustaffa, C. S. (2017). Investigative journalism in Malaysia: The battle between outside and inside newsroom challenges. International Conference on Communication and Media: An International Communication Association Regional Conference, 33, 00079. https://doi.org/10.1051/shsconf/20173300079

  • Jacques, T. (2014). Issue and crisis management: Exploring issues, crises, risk and reputation. Oxford University Press.

  • Jan, B., Anna, B., Leen, H., & Baldwin, V. G. (2017). The News is in the frame: A journalist-centered approach to the frame-building process of Belgian Syria fighters. Journalism, 18(3), 298-316. https://doi.org/10.1177/1464884915610988

  • Junaidi, A. B., Sahandri, G. B. H. M., & Mazura, M. M. (2014). Crisis management - Malaysian aviation tragedies. In Multidisciplinary academic research (pp. 77-93). https://globalilluminators.org/

  • Kalthom, H., Aida N. A., Mastura, I., Fauzi, K. M., Anidah, R., Mohaida, M., & Najmuddin, S. H. S. (2014). A preliminary study on effects of social media in crisis communication from public relations practitioners’ views. Social and Behavioural Sciences, 155(6), 223-227. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.10.283

  • Kim, J., Kim, H. J., & Cameron, G. T. (2012). Finding primary publics: A test of the third-person perception in corporate crisis situation. Journal of Public Relations, 24(5), 391-408. https://doi.org/10.1080/1062726X.2012.723275

  • Koselleck, R. (2006). Crisis. Journal of the History of Ideas, 67(2), 357-400.

  • Lee, N. Y., & Baek, K. (2018). Squeezing out economic news for business news? Changes in economic journalism over the past 20 years in South Korea. Journalism, 19(9-10), 1220-1238. https://doi.org/10.1177/1464884916665403

  • Lee, C., & Han, L. (2014). Faith-based organizations and transnational voluntarism in China: A case study on Malaysia airline MH370 incident. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 20(4), 319-350. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-014-9518-2

  • Li, C. W., Phun, V. K., Suzuki, M., & Yai, T. (2015). The effects of aviation accidents on public perception toward an airline. Journal of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies, 11, 2347-2362. https://doi.org/10.11175/easts.11.2347

  • Mishra, N. (2011). Power to define: Framing of naxalites in the Indian media. GMJ: Mediterranean Edition, 6(2), 23-35.

  • Nabil, S. A., Asraf, A. S. M., & Jamaludin, I. (2019). The case study of emergency plan (ERP) implementation during the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370 disappearance. Malaysian Journal of Computing, 4(2), 270-277. https://doi.org/10.24191/mjoc.v4i2.4809

  • Norsiah, A. H., Sobhi, I. M., & Nazialita, G. M. (2015). Empowering citizen media through investigative journalism in Malaysia. Malaysian Journal of Communication, 3(2), 631-647. https://doi.org/10.17576/JKMJC-2015-3102-36

  • Park, S., Bier, L. M., & Palenchar, M. J. (2016). Framing a mystery: Information subsidies and media coverage of Malaysia airlines flight 370. The International Communication Gazette, 42(4), 654-664. https://doi.org/10.1177/1748048517707440

  • Peiter, N. (2014). The two Malaysia airlines disasters in 2014: Lessons for airline management in a global context [Paper presentation]. The World Business, Finance and Management Conference, Auckland New Zealand. https://unitec.researchbank.ac.nz/handle/

  • Randall, L. (2018, October 27). MH370 bombshell: Author says he knows doomed plane’s exact location. Express. https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1037204/MH370-news-location-missing-plane-malaysia-airlines-flight

  • Rao, S. (2018). Awakening the dragon’s and elephant’s media: Comparative analysis of India’s and China’s journalism ethics. Journalism, 19(9-10), 1275-1290. https://doi.org/10.1177/1464884916670669

  • Rita, C. (2012). Shaping and cutting the media agenda: Television reporters’ perceptions of agenda- and frame-building and agenda-cutting influences. Journalism & Communication Monographs, 14(2), 85-146. https://doi.org/10.1177/1522637912444106

  • Romantan, A. (2005). The social amplification of commercial aviation risks: A longitudinal analysis of media effects on air travel behavior [Paper presentation]. International Communication Association Conference, New York, USA. http://195.130.87.21:8080/dspace/handle/123456789/75

  • Sankaran, R. (2016). Cross-cultural perspectives and influences in reporting airline disasters: The MH370 episode. Journal of Media Asia, 43(1), 23-34. https://doi.org/10.1080/01296612.2016.1169692

  • Scheufele, B. (2006). Frames, schemata, and news reporting. Communications, 31(1), 65-83. https://doi.org/10.1515/COMMUN.2006.005

  • Schostak, J. F. (2006). Interviewing and representation in qualitative research. Open University Press.

  • Schwarz, A. (2012). How publics use social media to respond to blame games in crisis communication: The love parade tragedy in Duisburg 2010. Public Relations Review, 38(3), 430-437. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pubrev.2012.01.009

  • Secret China Online News. (2014, May 2). Mǎláixīyà shǒu dù gōngbù MH370 shī lián chūbù bàogào (tú) [Malaysia announces a preliminary report on the loss of MH370 for the first time]. Vision Times. http://www.secretchina.com/news/14/05/02/539320.html?

  • Seeger, M. W., Sellnow, R., & Ulmer, R. R. (2003). Communication and organizational crisis. Praeger.

  • Seon-Kyoung, A., & Karla, K. G. (2009). How do the news media frame crises? A content analysis of crisis news coverage. Public Relations Review, 35(2), 107-112. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pubrev.2009.01.010

  • Shoemaker, P. J., & Reese, S. D. (2014). Mediating the message in the 21st century: A media sociology perspective (3rd ed.). Routledge.

  • Sorensen, C. (2014, March 21). How Flight MH370 could vanish without a trace. Macleans. https://www.macleans.ca/news/world/how-an-airplane-can-vanish-without-a-trace/

  • Temmerman, M. (2012). Naming and framing in Belgian politics. An analysis of the representation of politicians and the political state of affairs during the 2007 government formation period in the Belgian press. Belgian Journal of Linguistics, 24(1), 120-138. https://doi.org/10.1075/bjl.24.06tem

  • The Star. (2014, March 9). Missing MAS flight: “Don’t share unverified info”. https://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/03/09/Dont-share-unverified-info

  • The Straits Times. (2018, April 2). Malaysia passes anti-fake news bill. http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/malaysia-votes-in-anti-fake-news-law

  • The Sun Daily. (2016, April 8). Refizi charged for violating Official Secrets Act 1972. http://www.thesundaily.my/news/1754831

  • Turow, J. (2014). Media today: An introduction to mass communication (5th ed.). Routledge.

  • Utusan Online. (2015, January 29). MH370 diisytihar kemalangan, 239 penumpang dan kru dianggap terkorban [MH370 was declared an accident, with 239 passengers and crew members presumed dead]. http://www.utusan.com.my/berita/nahas-bencana/mh370-diisytihar-kemalangan-239-penumpang-dan-kru-dianggap-terkor ban-1.53972

  • Wasko, J. (2014). The study of the political economy of the media in the twenty-first century. International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics, 10(3), 259-271. https://doi.org/10.1386/macp.10.3.259_1

  • Yan, Y., & Kim, Y. (2015). Framing the crisis by one’s seat: A comparative study of newspaper frames of the Asiana crash in the USA, Korea, and China. Asian Journal of Communication, 25(5), 1-21. https://doi.org/10.1080/01292986.2014.990470

  • Yang, L. F., & Md. Sidin A. I. (2015). Gatekeeping in the coverage of interethnic conflicts: An analysis of mainstream and alternative newspapers in Malaysia. SEARCH, 7(1), 23-51.

  • Zelizer, B. (2015). Terms of choice: Uncertainty, journalism, and crisis. Journal of Communication, 65(5), 888-908. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcom.12157

ISSN 0128-7702

e-ISSN 2231-8534

Article ID

JSSH-7603-2020

Download Full Article PDF

Share this article

Related Articles