Headline news

Over the last few days I’ve received countless tweets, mostly from folks stateside, linking to news articles detailing the treatment of grieving relatives of those lost on Malaysian Airlines flight 370.

“Ferrari F1 Team kicks grieving relatives of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 out of hotel rooms”

“Malaysia jet search: Grieving relatives forced to switch hotels as F1 crews move in”

“Grieving Families Booted From Hotel for Formula One Grand Prix”

Kicked. Forced. Booted.

Strong stuff.

But sometimes we would do well to look beyond headlines and actually think for a moment.

There are two hotels at the centre of all this. One is the Sama Sama, formerly the Pan Pacific. It is a large hotel, connected to the airport by a walkway, and was for many years the accreditation centre for the Grand Prix. It is still used by many teams and sponsors and one imagines it will have been booked solid on Grand Prix week for over six months.

The other is Cyberview Resort and Spa. It is nowhere even close to the airport. It is a luxury retreat often frequented by drivers. I stayed here a few years ago for two days as a treat to myself before the race started. Two days was all I could afford. It isn’t cheap.

But reports say a dozen Chinese relatives were “forced” out of this hotel, and that Malaysia Airlines took the decision to move itself from Sama Sama.

There’s a lot of bile being spat at the moment about terrible Formula 1 and the heartless bastards who have moved the families. But just take a moment.

What do you think happened? Ferrari turned up at their hotel, found their rooms inhabited by grieving relatives and haughtily ordered the manager to eject these weeping individuals, post haste?

It’s not as if Formula 1 travel is the work of an instant. Flights and hotels are booked months, sometimes years in advance. Repeat bookings at hotels are not uncommon.

The hotel managers would have been well aware when taking the families in that their establishment was fully booked for Grand Prix week. If they failed to make Malaysia Airlines or the families aware of this then the root of this problem lies with them.

But I am also quite sure that nobody expected the search for flight 370 to be entering a third week. What those poor families are going through I cannot even fathom.

But Formula 1 has not booted, thrown or kicked them out of anywhere. They have simply been moved to another hotel because the one in which they had been placed was fully booked for the week commencing March 24th. And I am perfectly sure that it will have been the hotels themselves that made the families and/or the airline aware of their need to switch hotels, days before any crew arrived. The F1 teams claimed to have done the booting probably had no idea that any of this was happening.

It saddens me that some media outlets would chose such an easy target as the grief of those families, to come up with such a nasty and ill thought through story. And that so many would unflinchingly believe what they are spoon fed by the media at large, without taking the time to do a little bit of thinking for themselves.

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27 thoughts on “Headline news

  1. Wow, while some people are wondering if their loved ones are still alive, all that matters to you is F1 and its next race, and getting you room.

  2. I’m surprised that anyone believes the main stream media at all. Forget hidden agendas or conspiracy theories, even within F1 if you have read magazines and books over the decades there are clues within the writing but people accept it to be true. Nobody questions anything or rather very few .

    In recent wells Lewis has been reported extensively and part of an interview he spoke of people in airports talking to him about F1 and it’s current state. Yet he has a private jet, is he talking about other people in the private jet lounge?

    That’s neither here nor there, you know as well as I do that many poor quality journalists consider Ferrari evil and everyone else victims but this suits their readers.

    We live in an age where the internet has made truths of every potential lie, TV portrays propaganda images to support their cause, history is rewritten depending the level of celebrity and status and people consider the X factor quality TV!

  3. It may even have been out of consideration that the relatives were offered somewhere quieter than a busy hotel during a GP weekend.

  4. Will – given your professional background, I really can’t believe you’re surprised. That’s how mainstream media works these days. If it makes a sellable headline, print it. Truth doesn’t enter in to the equation.

  5. Disclaimer: I’m apparently one of those heartless bastards… I’ve had my hotel room booked for almost 12 months. Sorry, grieving families, I didn’t foresee this crisis.

    Realistically, Malaysian Airlines had no way of foreseeing this would go on for this long. I have no doubt if they had they’d have set up one crisis centre in Beijing (where Chinese passengers’ families can be supported by extended family as opposed to abroad) and a second in KL city centre, where there are more options/amenities for both families of passengers and the world’s journalists. But let’s be honest, this entire situation is unprecedented. However, as Will said, it’s hardly likely that any F1 team has requested anyone move on, and any report that this is so is purely an attempt to manufacture a story in the absence of any updates on MH370. Additionally, it’s not like anyone is being evicted and sleeping in a cardboard box – the media reports seem to ignore that the people concerned are being shifted to a different 4-5 star hotel (being provided by the airline).

    Equally concerning to me were the press suggestions the race should be canceled. I’m not sure what these ‘journalists’ felt would be gained by a cancellation or boycott, and I’m unclear why F1 seems to be the target of all these comments. The Laureus World Sports Awards will be held in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, but I haven’t seen anyone calling for that to be canceled… Political motives in Malaysia against F1, perhaps?

  6. Really?? I’ve spent countless hours in the CNBC makeup room with the monitors blaring and I’ve never heard this reported, but I’m not surprised. The sad truth is that there is not much to report and a lot of airtime to fill. Don’t know if you caught when CNN started babbling about aliens — definitely not their finest moment.

    The situation is very similar to what is happening with Schumi, and kudos to Sabine Kehm to handing what must be her worst nightmare (that she can’t even begin to fathom is happening AFTER Michael retired from F1) with such grace. In this instant, on demand world of communication, people tend to keep talking to fill the void instead of stopping to think.

  7. Well said Will, there are usually more to some stories. As they say never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

  8. As Etc said, It is sad that this point had to be made. So often the news media will latch onto a small fact and turn it into a news article with a bias that is in reality an out and out lie.

  9. I think it’s just unfortunate. With these situations everything comes with a certain sense of regret, and though this is not the first time F1 has had to step where tragedy has taken place, it’s at the hotel’s discression. There were only two outcomes, and one of them was what is happening here, if reports are to be believed. The other is for all the teams involved to move. It’s an uncomfortable situation. Of course, it’s still massive sensationalism.

  10. Also, getting the Hatchet treatment by The Age of Melbourne… but they always go hand in hand with the Salve Albert Park mob… so no real surprise there…

  11. Pingback: Indian GP hopes pinned on “next government” | F1 Fanatic Round-up | Formula 1 News

  12. Investing yourself emotionally in even the smallest degree into the ridiculous coverage of Flight 370 is just silly.

    Investing yourself into Formula 1™, on the other hand, is a different story entirely…

  13. Will, the root of the problem here is that Malaysia Airlines thought they would have to pay for a night or two at an expensive hotel. At some point their insurance company will have told them their insurance no longer covers indefinite hotel stays (same thing happened with Asiana in SF). Add to that the issue of families all together meet, get angry together and make media demonstrations. If Malaysia can split them up… I can’t see Malaysia seriously objecting to moving them. Lip service, sure, real angst? Nope. The truth here is that these poor families are in a horrible situation. Sadly, I would be willing to bet just about anything that those hotels can’t wait to see them leave. That is heartless, but probably the reality. And Malaysia airlines might well have agreed to move them on to other an cheaper accommodation. The whole thing is unprecedented.

  14. It’s always a tragedy when a plane goes down and it’s got to be horrendous waiting for news of what happened. I feel for the families and my comment is not meant to be callous.
    The real story here is not about the plane crash, but how in this day and age we could lose a plane. There are real time tracking systems, one is tracking planes all over the world from Canada, that can locate a plane within 4 square miles of it’s actual location and gives it’s elevation, speed and whether the systems are functioning properly. Why aren’t passenger planes tracked in real time?
    Just imagine the actual cost of this crash beyond the lives lost. A large number of nations and private companies with ships, satellites, planes and their support networks working 24/7. All the resources of a large percentage of video news organizations devoting all their time to the non-story, all of the man hours people spent glued to the boob tube and all of it to the detriment of news we really needed to know. Like the megalomaniac with the massive army and huge oil and nuclear weapon reserves, who would like to return his country to it’s former glory and who took over another countries land and 2.5 million people.
    We have lost the plot; there is no way humans are going to survive.

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