Evaluating Media for Credibility

March 16, 2014
Captain E.F. Rollins

Evaluating Media for Credibility
The two news programs that I watched were Smerconish on CNN at 8:00am CST and America’s News HQ on Fox News at 11:00am CST. Both programs devoted an overwhelming amount of their time on the fate of Malaysian flight 370. There were similarities in both presentations such as the transponder was deliberately turned off and that the plane could have flown for at least seven hours after it was turned off. Also, similar was the discussion on where the plane might have ended up.
CNN chose to interview a reporter for an aviation magazine and a retired British officer in discussing the facts of the plane’s disappearance with neither having the expertise to speak on this subject from a level of experience or knowledge. Then CNN chose to change the focus to why planes are not tracked through video monitoring and whether the plane was manned or unmanned when the transponder was disabled. The person of choice for this segment was a commercial airline pilot who did not have the expertise or education either to be able to comment one way or another on this topic.
On the other hand, Fox News chose to interview a commander in the United States Public Affairs office and a former Assistant Director in the FBI that investigated the 1996 flight disaster. Each of these interviewees had knowledge and experience with which to discuss the disappearance of flight 370 and were able to provide a level of detail per that knowledge and experience.
In conclusion, Fox News was more credible in their reporting because they chose interviewees that could reasonably have the expertise on the subject matter, provided more details, and stayed focused on the topic. Although CNN did state some of the same facts that Fox News stated, they diluted their story with information that had no bearing on the disappearance of flight 370, did not stay focused, and their choice of interviewees did not have relevant experience or knowledge in which to draw on for this topic. As a result, CNN came off as less credible.