Dutch people everywhere are a bit in shock after the plane crash in Tripoli. We lost 70 of our friends and neighbors in this crash. It’s every family’s worst nightmare – a heartwrenching situation where we share in the pain of the families who lost loved ones.
I learned the sad news as I was traveling to a business appointment. I was in the car, listening to BNR, the Dutch financial and business news station. The announcer was a woman who brought us this shocking news. The plane crashing on landing, Dutch casualties, one survivor – a 9 year-old Dutch boy – debris strewn over a large area. She ended by asking anyone who may have known someone on the flight to contact the radio station!
I could not believe my ears. Dutch is my second language so I thought first, ‘listen more closely to what she’s saying’. I did. She was. This wasn’t right. At one point the reporter on the scene was lamenting that the authorities at Schiphol airport weren’t letting the media interview family and friends that had gathered there to wait for news. The reporter gave a telephone number from the Dutch equivalent of the Department of Foreign Affairs where anyone looking for information could contact authorities. The announcer followed this up with an alternative number…THE NUMBER OF THE RADIO STATION! She invited people to call if they knew someone who was on vacation in Africa and may have been traveling back, or they knew people who were traveling with either of the two travel organizations that had customers on this flight.
It felt wrong. It felt self-serving. It felt so hard and uncaring for these families who had just heard the most horrible news. If they could only take a moment and contact this radio station so that they could be put on the air to be interviewed in great detail about what they were going through at that moment. What happened was that people who were not directly involved and had no knowledge of the situation were calling to speculate. This isn’t news. In that moment it became tabloid journalism. It changed my view about this radio station. It’s a cutthroat business for news and we all know that being first counts, but this went too far for me.
I turned the station off. I didn’t want to be a part of this anymore.