I must confess that news of the missing KQ Flight on Saturday
concerned me gravely scared the hell out of me. Because of the fact that I know a number of flight engineers and stewards, one of whom had emailed me to inform me that she was coming back on a flight from West Africa.
Mercifully, she was not on that particular flight, but still, I have that feeling of being kicked in the stomach when I think of what might have been.
That our prayers are with the family and friends of the victims need not be said, for they are, and will continue to be. This is a very trying time, but I have no doubt that God will comfort the affected and wipe away their tears.
The confirmation that my friend was OK came much later, but while I was in the vacuum of information, I kept a very close eye indeed on all the TV channels and a close ear on the radio channels. Google was my friend online as I kept my pulse to the developments.
The way the media handled the issue, to be frank, at times made me extremely uncomfortable.
- Most local TV stations had created some sort of update bulletin, that began with the most depressing music and graphics, even before the plane was known for a fact to have crashed. Not that they should have made it jolly or anything, but is that the sort of thing you want to see and listen to when hoping against hope for the safety of your loved ones?
- During one of the press briefings at the Panari Hotel, KQ CEO Titus Naikuni opened the floor to questions for the press. And how did one reporter make use of this opportunity? He wanted a list of the journalists that had flown to Douala.
- As the day progressed, the International stations, CNN and BBC pushed the story progressively back in their coverage, up to the point it was no longer being mentioned in the headlines. A crashed plane is a BIG DEAL. A crashed plane with 114 people on board is a BIG DEAL Certainly bigger than tornadoes.
- One of the papers prematurely published a list of the passengers and crew.
- ONE OF THE NAMES WAS WRONG! This in particular really bothers me. Just imagine, knowing for a fact that your father/mother/wife/husband/son is safe and sound and then reading their name in the paper! The shock!
- Most of the TV stations aired footage of distraught and grieving family and friends. Precisely what is the purpose of this? I see no reason whatsoever to record, much less air, such footage. What are they trying to prove?
- One local radio station invited the brother of one of the flight pursers on a morning show and had the temerity to ask him “What did you feel when you heard the news of the missing flight?“. I mean, come on! What do you expect him to answer?
- The papers for a couple of day plastered their front pages with pictures of grieving family and friends. I’ve heard arguments that this personalizes the story, but for God’s sake we don’t need the story to be personalized! These are our friends, our colleagues, our family! We so appreciate the enormity of the tragedy and the sense of loss!
Look at the highlighted bit:
They were energetic enough to say five Brits, one Swiss and one Swede, but could not be bothered to break down the African casulaties, settling for “The remainder were Africans”. Why then did they not say some Europeans as well? Are we second class human beings? I guess I should not be surprised to expect a myopic news organization is unable to live up to its “International” tag.
Granted, there is no formula as to how to handle such tragic events, but I’m sure if we followed the simple parameters of treating them with the seriousness they deserve and utmost respect to the affected family and friends, we should be OK.
But that’s just me.
To the family, friends, colleagues of the victims, the KQ fraternity and Kenyans as a whole: take heart my friends. God will wipe our tears away and soothe our grieving souls
Oh, and I will be going to Coast in a couple of weeks on business.
I SHALL be flying Kenya Airways, the Pride Of Africa