American News Networks Embarrassing Reporting on Malaysia Air

Perhaps it’s because I’m an explorer at heart and have always loved geography, I was astonished when my friend Mark Zschech from Australia sent me this report on just how wacky American reporting has been on the missing Malaysia Air Flight 370.  Take a look (and scroll down the page for the photos) just to see how embarrassingly ignorant American journalists are when it comes to the location of countries, bodies of water, and other geographical regions. Here’s the report:

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • KarlUdy

    Actually I don’t think this is so much reflective of American journalists’ lack of geographical knowledge, as it is of the overwhelming desire of news media to be “first” of at the expense of being “correct”. There is so much value to news media if they have the first image, first story, first interview, etc on an event that they often fail to do due diligence. It is the same disease that plagued the 2000 presidential election coverage.

    • That’s a great point. In the age of 24/7 cable news, that rush often hurts the integrity of the stories.

    • Dave Patchin

      This “rush to be first” is sooooooo idiotic for news. Do any of you know who was first to report the missing flight, or the suspect “debris” southwest of Perth? No one outside the newsroom claiming the victory knows or cares. First means they beat the others by 5 minutes. People want full and accurate coverage. Poor fact-checking seems irrelevant to media, yet it makes them look foolish.

      • Could not agree more. But nobody knows how to solve the problem financially…. And now with the Internet and few funding big, legit news organizations, I think it will continue to get worse and worse…

  • Crash Davis

    My gorgeous wife, Rebecca, and I were in Perth last December. She had no idea where the city was in Australia until I showed her on a map. Then, when we landed in Cape Town, So Africa, she asked if we were looking out at the Pacific Ocean. (It’s the Atlantic.)

    We simply do not teach geography any longer. Plus, the USA only has long borders with Canada & Mexico. So our understanding of countries and our globe is limited. Too bad. I’ve loved globes & cartography since i was a kid.

    The other culprit is that it’s staffers & gfx artists that pull together those news maps. But still, a sharp producer should catch the errors. Yes, it’s a rush to be first; we’ll correct the errors later.

  • Ron Sellers

    It’s not just the race to be first. Grey Matter Research has released a LOT of data to the media (USA Today, MSNBC, LA Times, etc. having covered it), and it’s not time-sensitive. Yet I’m amazed at how often it’s completely messed up by reporters who know nothing about what they’re trying to cover.

    On one study, we interviewed Protestant ministers, and broke out a few of the larger denominational groups such as Methodist and Baptist. No matter how much I explained it, the study was frequently covered as a study of only those denominations for which we had breakouts. One reporter on another study consistently asked me how “evangelistics” differed from others (apparently being unfamiliar with the term “evangelicals.” Others approached with an obvious agenda, rephrasing a question over and over as they tried to get me to say something that fit the agenda. I’ve been asked how many Mormons were included in our studies of Protestant clergy.

    Many reporters develop no expertise in any area, so they really can’t talk intelligently about the subjects they’re covering. Today a religion reporter, previously a science reporter, tomorrow on the crime beat. How can they understand the complexities of each one?

    • Really great points Ron. in the old days, major news organizations had expert journalists in areas like aviation, religion, and other specialty areas. But no more. These days, the reporter that gets the assignment is the one that answers the phone.