This is not a news story

Just because there aren't any important developments in the search for MH370 does not mean that the media should go out and invent "news" about it. Or, not everything Peter Jackson does deserves to be reported on.

Three things at the outset.

I get that, for all the Malaysia Air 370 flight mystery is an international event, there's a pretty universal desire to make the general specific - so things that tie li'll ol' En Zed to this story are always going to be tempting for those reporting on the issue.

I also get that Peter Jackson exercises a large degree of fascination for New Zealanders, given his unusual status as a genuinely top-level Hollywood player who still chooses to make New Zealand home. 

And I finally get that arguments about what is and is not "news" are as likely to produce a universally accepted outcome as are a debate over "what is art?" or "is this music?".

But still ... the "revelation" that Peter Jackson's private jet is a part of the search for the missing jet has to rank as just about the lamest and least deserving "news story" I have ever been exposed to. Yet not only did it feature reasonably prominently on the first Morning Report in the post-Geoff era, but that report then served as the source for the lead story on the NZ Herald's website and one prominently displayed on This is madness run amok!

Have a think about what this "story" consists of.

Peter Jackson owns a plane. Good on him. He probably does a lot of international flying, and so (given his wealth) it makes sense for him to do so in the comfort and  convenience of his own jet.

But owning a plane is expensive, and even wealthy people don't just throw money away without second thoughts. So rather than just leave the plane sitting around while he isn't using it, he recoups some of the cost by renting it out to other people to use through a company, "Execujet".

The folks carrying out the search for MH 370 got in touch with Execujet and said "we're looking for planes in the region to use as a part of the search - can we hire the one you manage, please?" Whereupon Execujet asked Peter Jackson if it would be OK to do so. And he said, "yes".

[Just take a second to imagine that conversation:

Execujet: "Hi Peter - just had a call from the search people over in Australia. They're keen to hire out your plane to help in the search for over 200 missing people who have grieving relatives living in a state of uncertainty and desperately want answers. They're offering to pay. What do you think?"

Peter Jackson: "Hmmm ... guess so ... I won't be needing it anyway."


Now, I'm not having a go at Peter Jackson here. As his spokesperson says:

"Peter would not seek publicity for something like this and would actively avoid it in fact. A lot of civilian and military aircraft are involved in the search and it's kind of disappointing that because one is owned by a celebrity it becomes a matter of news when there are [over] 200 people missing."

Good on him for taking that attitude. Because, seriously, what on earth catapaults this "story" into the main leads of three of the country's major news outlets? 

Now, if Peter Jackson had turned down a request to use his plane, then sure - that I'd read about. But an item that essentially tells me "Peter Jackson is not a monster who refused to allow his plane to be used for money in a search for 200 missing people"? Please ... go do some proper reporting, will you?