People Have Stopped Talking About the Missing Plane

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MalaysiaairlinesfatigueA man, one of the relatives of Chinese passengers onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, rests near a board covered with written wishes at a hotel in Beijing, China, Saturday, March 29, 2014.

Image: Alexander F. Yuan/Associated Press

Twenty-four days have passed since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished shortly after takeoff, and tweets about the missing plane have hit an all-time low.

The missing plane was only mentioned 170,657 times on Twitter on Sunday, according to data from Sysomos, a Marketwired company and leader in social analytics and intelligence. That’s a 92% drop from a high of 2,343,994 Twitter mentions on March 24, when Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak held a live press briefing to say the plane’s journey ended in the middle of the south Indian Ocean.


Image: Sysomos

CNN, for its part, is continuing full steam ahead in its wall-to-wall coverage of the saga. The network’s coverage has propelled it to record audience highs, with Anderson Cooper beating out Bill O’Reilly in the primetime news demo ratings, CNN’s New Day beating Morning Joe “in both total and demo for eleven straight days,” and record-high page views, video streams and mobile traffic for CNN’s digital platforms.

But others in the media may begin to dial back coverage. Mentions of the Malaysia Airlines search in news media — which includes traditional sources such as the BBC or CNN as well as online articles from local newspapers and journals — are down 64% from the high reached on March 24 at 35,715. Just 12,832 news mentions were made on Sunday, according to data provided by Sysomos.

Image: Sysomos

The public’s fatigue has seemingly set in after weeks of endless speculation and few credible leads in the investigation into the plane’s disappearance.

Still, the Australia Maritime Safety Authority is continuing full steam ahead.

Nearly 20 ships and aircraft are searching daily for any sign of the downed jetliner, but so far only an endless stream of flotsam and jetsam has surfaced — mere fishing nets, refrigerator doors and other pieces of useless sea junk.

Those on board the search planes are growing weary, relying on tricks to keep their brains alert, such as moving their eyes in an X pattern or changing seats every 30 minutes.

It’s a search that officials now say could take years.

But the families of the 239 missing passengers aboard the doomed flight have refused to give up hope. Many are still camped out in hotels in Beijing and Malaysia, attending daily debriefings given by the increasingly maligned Malaysian authorities, and awaiting any good news that might prove their loved ones are still, against all odds, alive.

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