HomeSoutheast Asian Media Studiesvol. 2 no. 1 (2020)

One Crisis, Different Frames: A Comparative Study of Newspapers’ Coverage of Malaysian Airlines MH370

Lim Shiang Shiang | Ihediwa Samuel Chibundu | Sharon Wilson



When Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished with 239 passengers on-board in March 2014, people worldwide thought that subsequent breaking news stories would produce answers to the whereabouts of the aircraft. But as minute-by-minute coverage turned into monthly updates, so did the endless waiting turn into frustration and anger among the victims’ families, while local and international pressure mounted on Malaysian authorities to release definite information on the crisis. This study draws from framing theory to showcase how Malaysia’s mainstream and alternative newspapers–The Star and Malaysiakini–differ in their framing of the crisis. Through quantitative and qualitative content analyses, this study investigates the different slants taken to the crisis in the two newspapers, as well as the frames employed in the coverage of the news. The study found that the mainstream newspaper defined the crisis in frames and slants that are supportive of the efforts of the Malaysian authorities in searching for the airplane, while the alternative newspaper used frames and slants that are critical of the authorities.