Multi-Platform News Analysis: Melbourne DFO Plane Crash

Five people were killed when a light aircraft crashed into a popular shopping centre in Melbourne of the 20th of February. This news story, arguably one of the biggest in the nation this year to date, was heavily covered by the media with it receiving breaking news across multiple news platforms. The similarities and differences across three of these news platforms will be analysed by how the news originally broke and how the story was covered.

dfo plane crash main image
PHOTO: Firefighters containing blaze in DFO shopping centre after light plane crash. (Supplied: ABC News/Metropolitan Fire Brigade)

Pilot Max Quartermain, as well four passengers which were American tourists, took off from Melbourne’s Essendon airport just after 9:00am on the Monday morning. Shortly after take-off the plane experienced severe engine failure before crashing into the nearby DFO shopping centre, located in very near proximity to the airport’s runway.

As the disaster happened during the mid-morning, it was very promptly covered and reported with breaking news across popular breakfast talk shows, including Sunrise and The Today Show.

Channel Nine News Melbourne released one of the top rating Tweets about the incident with a video news report, about an hour after the initial event. The Tweet included helicopter footage and inclusive interviews with Victoria Police.

Another media platform that covered the Essendon Plane Crash incident was ABC News online, with them publishing a news article the next afternoon (21st of February) after the previous day’s events. This article went further into depth with finer details and quotes from various stakeholders in the matter.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-21/five-passenger-plane-crashes-near-melbournes-essendon-airport/8288964

ABC news article
Screenshot from ABC News Online Article.

Finally, the third media platform that will be analysed is a Television Bulletin uploaded to the Sky News website on the 22nd of February, which included a recap of the story and interviews with fellow reporters.

http://www.skynews.com.au/news/top-stories/2017/02/22/search-for-answers-over-essendon-plane-crash.html

sky news video pic
Screenshot from Sky News Australia TV bulletin.

Similarities and differences between stories across news platforms:

 Timeliness: 

In this news case of the plane crashing into the DFO shopping centre in Melbourne, Twitter was the first news platform to break the story. This is due to the quick simplicity of the instant posting that Twitter provides for reporters and News organisations. The example Tweet by Nine News Melbourne, as linked above, was posted at 10:24am on the morning of the incident, which is extremely quick compared to the other two news platform examples. The online news article from ABC, although going into a greater depth of detail was released almost 30 hours after the original breaking news tweet. Furthermore, the Television panel discussion on Sky News Australia was released on the Wednesday, two days after the initial incident, however analysed the aftermath of the crash with more available knowledge.

 

 Angle of the stories:

 All three of the news platforms had similar sentiments regarding the nature of the story. They all had the element of disaster and tragedy involving the horrible accident and the pending/confirmed deaths of all five passengers on-board the plane. However, there can be slight differences picked up between the separate news stories. For example, in the Channel Nine’s tweet, they had linked in a video of a press conference with reporters interviewing a police officer. The interview was fairly short and frantic as a lot of information was not yet known, and some of which was protected for the integrity for the investigation.

The ABC online news article the next day however could provide more extensive details, such as confirming that there had been five casualties in the plane crash. Other details that were in the online news article but not the tweet was the pilots name, the original desired destination for the aircraft, a background on the passengers, and a general recap of the disaster. The Sky News Television report obviously had more graphical content then the other two news platforms and could the utter destruction of the plane crash and could further analyse the repercussions pf the incident a couple days on with expert analysis. All three of the news platforms shared the same tragic view of the event and each of the stories had the key underlining messages, although presented in different formats.

 

News Values:

 There are a number of similar news values that appear in the plane crash stories of the three aforementioned platforms. News values are extremely important as they are in almost every news story and defines if a topic is indeed newsworthy or not. “There has been considerable research into news values, much of it focusing on analysis of news content published and broadcast by different media outlets on different platforms in different markets” (Lamble, 2013, pg.45).

The four out of six news values that are similar and consistent across all three news platforms in this story are significance/impact, conflict, human interest and proximity.

Significance (or impact) is arguably the most important news value as it affects a large number of people and is usually a major event that happens in society. The DFO plane crash for instance affected the five deceased, Essendon airport, slowed the traffic flow on the highway due to debris, closed the shopping centre for a couple days and members of emergency crews. 

 

Comprehensiveness of the story:

The online news article by ABC News and the TV bulletin by Sky News were far more comprehensive and detailed than the Twitter counterpart. The article and TV bulletin were published the day’s following the incident allowing reporters to gather more substantial details and facts regarding the news story. The Channel Nine Tweet, while although was the first released, did not go into any specific detail about the plane crash as they did not yet know them. Tweets limit users to a small maximum of 140 characters per post, though also giving the ability to include external links or videos. “Social Media is often seen as a tool used by publishers and journalists to distribute content, brand individual journalists and publishers, and to engage with audiences, and it certainly fulfils those functions” (Dunlop, 2016). Although social media is the easiest platform to break new content first, it generally isn’t the most comprehensive.

 

Fairness and balance of reporting:

 All three news stories surrounding the DFO plane crash were fair and accurate to what we know. Also, the main details were consistent throughout the three different platforms, which means there was no alternating facts or cause for arguments between opposing news stories. Furthermore, none of the three news organisations; Channel Nine News, ABC News or Sky News, had a personal agenda to write about which dissolves any basis for a biased news article. The news story came about because of a freak accident and therefore no news organisation had any prior knowledge to the events that would evolve. The fairness and balance of reporting in the three news stories is reliable and there is no reason for the facts and/or opinions too be undermined or accused in any way for wrong doing.

 

 Prominence:

The Essendon plane crash story is probably the biggest this year to date and is still receiving media coverage. At the time of the accident, the story was breaking news all over television and Twitter. The story was at the start of each news bulletin on TV and was the top trending story on Twitter while the story was breaking and many days following.

 

Conclusion:

The three news stories spread over the three different platforms of Twitter, online ABC news article and the TV bulletin are all more similar than different. They all share roughly the same news angle, news values and fairness of reporting, while varying slightly on timeliness and prominence. All stories captured the tragic aspect of the whole plane crash disaster.

 

References:

Dunlop, T. (2016) Media Innovation and Disruption. Chapter 6, Pg. 69. (Class reading).

Five killed as light plane hits Essendon shopping centre. (2017). ABC News. Retrieved 11 March 2017, from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-21/five-passenger-plane-crashes-near-melbournes-essendon-airport/8288964

Lamble, S. (2013) News As It Happens: An Introduction to Journalism (Pg. 45). Melbourne, Oxford University Press

Nine News Melbourne. (2017). Twitter.com. Retrieved 14 March 2017, from https://twitter.com/9NewsMelb/status/833819601913860097

Skynews.com.au. (2017). Search for answers over Essendon plane crash. Retrieved 15 March 2017, from http://www.skynews.com.au/news/top-stories/2017/02/22/search-for-answers-over-essendon-plane-crash.html

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Author: timwarren1

UC Journalism Student

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