Opinion: Being careful consumers of news


Joyce Ng is a senior English major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].

Joyce Ng

President Obama arrived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday as part of his week-long trip to Asia. His visit to Malaysia is the first as a sitting U.S. president in nearly half a decade. The last U.S. president to do so was Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966.

Obama’s visit has garnered much hype and attention in Malaysian and international media. It has been a long-awaited one, as his initial plan to visit Malaysia back in October 2013 was cancelled due to the U.S.

government shutdown. The visit is part of his efforts to strengthen U.S. ties with nations in Southeast Asia.

It is appalling, however, to see how certain major news networks have covered the president’s visit.

The first line of CNN’s article covering the visit describes Malaysia as “the Asian nation grappling with the mystery of a vanished jetliner.”

The article goes on to describe his visit; however, the writers never fail to put this event in context of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart has, on more than one occasion, made fun of CNN for the network’s non-stop coverage of the missing plane. He pointed out that CNN has been so thorough in its coverage that it has started covering their own coverage of the missing plane.

CNN has latched onto this bit of news — which has not had any significant developments in the past few weeks — and is showing no signs of slowing down.

As a Malaysian, it is painful to watch a major U.S. news network choose to portray Malaysia only in that light. As an already lesser-known country in Southeast Asia, I fear that people who don’t follow international news apart from the major incidents will know Malaysia only as the country that had a plane vanish into thin air.

Apart from CNN, the Associated Press’, the Guardian’s and Al Jazeera’s coverage of President Obama’s visit doesn’t fail to mention the missing plane.

I find this fact annoying because the missing plane is completely irrelevant in light of the purposes behind Obama’s trip to Malaysia.

His itinerary includes meeting with the nation’s leaders and attending a town-hall style forum with youth leaders, and his visit was planned prior to the plane tragedy.

It used to be a lot more difficult to escape the traps that traditional and major news networks have set out for us. I hope that all of us become wiser consumers of media and realize that we have many other options available for us on the Internet now.

Of course there’s still a lot of junk to sieve through, given that there are almost zero barriers to publishing online, but it is important to keep in mind that behind every exciting and controversial news story, there are nations, people and lives that truly matter.

We need to receive news with both a critical and compassionate eye in order to be U.S. citizens well-versed in global affairs.