SOUTH INDIAN OCEAN – Despite the concerted efforts of numerous governments and private agencies to locate it, news coverage of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 appears to have vanished without a trace.
At a press conference this morning where no reporters showed up, Malaysia’s acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told the families of the missing passengers that despite all efforts to keep the tragic story relevant, all traces had vanished from newspapers, television, and blogs as of three weeks ago.
“We will continue our multinational efforts to find some hint that the public still cares about this story,” he insisted, “but we also prepare for the worst.”
Since disappearing from Google’s news feed on the morning of April 30, the MH370 story has not made a single appearance or mention on CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera, NHK, or Xinhua. Investigators following the story’s path were able to locate some promising meta-data on Google’s cache, but those links only led to empty 404 pages.
“We don’t understand how story this big could just vanish from the media, all media,” said news analyst Lester Meyerson, who works for a joint task force assembled by the Malaysian, US, Australian, and Chinese governments. “It’s unprecedented.”
Increasing frustration and pressure from the families of the missing passengers has led to angry confrontations at official briefing meetings, according to secondary reports, since the meetings were no longer covered by the press.
Malaysian officials have repeatedly stressed that the media conditions of the current news cycle makes it “extremely difficult” to keep a single story salient, citing the near-chaotic environment of the modern information landscape.
“With Twitter, blogs, and smartphones, attention spans are shorter than ever,” Hussein said. “Trying to locate a two-month old story beneath layers of newer, flashier news, it’s like trying to find the haystack, not just the needle.”
Hussein suggested that the Ukrainian-Russian crisis, the coup in Thailand, the Korean ferry disaster, and even the upcoming World Cup were each generating millions of news items and billions of hits, beneath which the MH370 story was “somewhere.”
Worse, the unique data signature, or “ping” of the MH370 story’s keywords and tags, were getting fainter with each passing day that new layers of news data was added to the sea of information out there.
Many of the passengers have already resigned themselves to the very real possibility that the coverage of their tragedy has been lost forever. But others still hold out hope that someday, with better technology, the fate of the news of their loved ones will be recovered, providing some closure.
“I know the story is out there, somewhere, in the vast endless cloud,” said Li-Wei Shun, whose wife Yi was on the flight. “But I still think that maybe it may re-appear on my Baidu feed, like a miracle.”