Intense media interest in an accident like the Germanwings crash in the French Alps is understandable – but the way the media and public has been fed with information directly from a grandstanding French judicial prosecutor is not.
The prosecutor’s public statement within 48h of the incident that he was satisfied that the co-pilot had crashed the aircraft deliberately was made even more legally surreal by the fact that the “guilty” party was beyond prosecution by reason of death.
Now the media marketplace has been so flooded with “information” and speculation that, for a member of the public seriously looking for reliable facts from expert or official sources, it is difficult to tell what is real and what is not. The effect has been to put intolerable pressure on the excellent French accident investigator – the BEA – to provide data to back up not only what the media actually know, but also what they think they know.
And all this is happening when the investigators should be left to get on with their job of painstakingly sifting and testing the real evidence at their disposal. Left alone to do so, the BEA would – fairly quickly – have provided a statement of established facts, enabling intelligent interpretation by the public and media, and avoiding information anarchy that also compromises the judicial system.