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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


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.

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