“Missing Plane: Black Box Is ‘Found’” proclaimed the Daily Express this morning, clearly telling its readers that one or both of the Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder from the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 had been located. However, and in this case there is a significantly sized however, this assertion is not true, and it is just another cruel hoax.
This makes three totally untrue Express front page stories in three days: Zelo Street has already examined the ridiculous “EU number plate” story, and yesterday’s assertion that a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU was on its way was equally devoid of factual content. Richard “Dirty” Desmond’s supposedly flagship title has learned little from having to pay out to the McCann family.
So why is the paper so off beam in its assertions over Flight MH370? Well, for starters, the smaller of the two search areas in the southern Indian Ocean that is currently being scanned for signs of a signal from one or other of those recorders is approximately the size of the island of Ireland. And somewhere in that area may – just may – be two compact metal objects.
Here’s what Australian PM Tony Abbott said: “We have very much narrowed down the search area and we are very confident that the signals that we are detecting are from the black box on MH370. Nevertheless, we're getting into the stage where the signal from what we are very confident is the black box is starting to fade. We are hoping to get as much information as we can before the signal finally expires”.
Those comments have already been reported ... by the Express! The paper has added “Search crews are under intense pressure to find the devices because the batteries powering their locator beacons last only about a month - and more than that amount of time has elapsed since the plane disappeared. The chances of finding any remains of the plane after the batteries expires will fall dramatically”.
That shows a more realistic view of the situation, and the Guardian has sounded a downbeat note: “The search for a missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner resumed on Saturday, five weeks after the plane disappeared from radar screens, amid fears that batteries powering signals from the black box recorder on board may have died”. If those searching can’t get a fix on the location, it’s almost game over.
And that is why today’s Express front page headline is such a cruel hoax: giving false hope to all the relatives of those on board, when there is in reality none, really is the lowest form of journalism. Moreover, as can be seen, this is not an isolated incident: more often than not, the paper’s front page story is utterly and totally untrue from start to finish – and that’s not good enough.
Still, it sells a few more papers, so that’s another Benchmark Of Excellence!