Ok, as both an aviation enthusiast and a news reporter and producer, let me try to quell some of the media-bashing going on here.
Without knowing exactly the chain of events in this particular story, I can tell you what *probably* happened, based on personal experience covering similar wx-related flight diversions.
The first word of the diversion could come from any number of ways. The last time I covered one, it was from a family member awaiting arrival of someone on the plane.
A competent reporter will make three calls: airport operations, the airline's designated media/PR contact, and airline information. Airport ops will tell you the status of the airport and of any diversions. In this case, ops may have simply said "NW flight X has been diverted to BFI
people widely vary in reliability and quality. Even if you get a hold of one immediately--quite often you have to have them paged, or you get a voice mail--they frequently don't know the answer to your question, and have to check back with internal sources.
The call to airline information will probably be done without identification as a reporter...generally, airline people (and people at any other company, for that matter) are under strict internal orders to refer all media questions to corporate PR
The long and short of it? We report the information we get our hands on. If Sea-Tac airport ops tell us "NW flight X has been diverted to BFI
," we go on the air with "Sea-Tac Airport Ops says NW
flight X has been diverted to BFI
." Of course, you can see how people who hear this report could think it means air traffic control, and pass it on from there...
Does that mean "the media" sometimes reports inaccuracies during breaking news situations? Of course! But that's not a flaw inherent in the media, that's a flaw of the fact that we're being told inaccurate information, which we don't know is inaccurate until later. That's why competent reporters and stations attribute facts we hear.
Rivervisual: I'm not sure if you're attacking the media, the American public, or both. If you think "the media" ignores business problems in the aviation industry, I respectfully disagree. The Wall Street Journal covers the nuts and bolts of aviation very well. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch did thorough coverage of AA
's pull out at STL
and the numerous angles from which the decision had repercussions.
But customer service is a problem in the eyes of the flying public. And stories like this, with a high "gee whiz" factor (a flight getting diverted to an airport 6 miles up the road) are bound to get attention.
And the "sweeps" month has less relevance than you might think. News stations program special reports during those months, but spot news--such as this--is always a priority. Reporters and producers don't say "Gosh! We had better go all out on this big story, because it's sweeps month" or vice versa. Breaking news the public is interested in gets us in gear. Ratings periods don't.