Tuesday, December 4, 2007
  Majority of missing persons in the media lack minorities
As I read about the most recent occurrences in the Natalee Holloway case, I realized something: Missing persons of a certain race, age, social standing and economic means are far more likely to get their missing persons' face plastered on every news channel from here to Timbuktu. While on the other hand, those who do not fit into a particularly square hole are less likely to receive no more than a 20 second spot of the 10 o'clock local evening news.

Don't misinterpret what I'm saying - the Natalee Holloway case is just as important as the next, but why, after two and a half years is it still in the limelight? What makes Holloway's case more worthy of the world's attention?
According to President's DNA Initiative, "there are as many as 100,000 active missing person cases in the United States, and every year tens of thousands of people vanish under suspicious circumstances."

Consider some of the most popular missing persons stories in the last few years - murder victims Laci Peterson and her unborn child, 'runaway bride' Jennifer Wilbanks, and most recently Stacy Peterson and Lisa Stebic. Anyone familiar with these cases can spot the pattern; they’re all white females in a particular age bracket.

There are many reasons for why these case show up on the media radar. Perhaps they were particularly unique, or maybe their families have certain economic or social pulls within their communities. Whatever the reason these stories are clearly given much more attention than the other thousands of people missing in this country alone.

The impact of media on these cases is outstanding. Broadcast and print media sometimes frame the cases and tie the potential crimes to a single person. This can be helpful but primarily destructive.

People of every race, age, social or economic standing deserve their spot on the national radar of missing persons. It is important as journalists to monitor to how much attention we put on certain cases versus others.
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This blog is a companion piece to CCJN4394:Media Effects taught by Dr. J. Richard Stevens at Southern Methodist University.

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