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June 20, 2007

Pretty, white and female

Filed under: News — Becky @ 8:45 am

If you heard the name :Elizabeth Smart, Natalie Holloway, Laci Peterson, Chandra Levy or Kelsey Smith , you’d know exactly who they were and could more than likely spout off a few quick facts regarding them, correct?
Do you know who Stepha Henry , Latoyia Figueroa, Amber Harris, Sintia Mesa, Chris Pineda ,Brendan Gonzalez or Tamika Huston are? Do you know anything about them? Who they are, where they are from? No? That is rather disheartening.

The people named all have one thing in common, they were/are missing. There are a few differences though; the people in the second list aren’t white, a few aren’t female, and none are in the upper echelons of the socio-economic structure, and there’s one other important factor, they didn’t get the media coverage that those in the first list got. In fact, the Stepha Henry case got bumped for coverage of Paris Hilton’s front gate, on the day she went back to court. That’s what I consider important news, don’t you? Cable news executives say they don’t pick stories based on the race of the victims. “The stories that ‘go national’ all have a twist or an emotional aspect to them that make them interesting,” said Bill Shine, senior vice president of programming at Fox News.” Link to story

Isn’t a missing woman, man or child of any race, nationality or creed; emotional in and of itself? I’m sure it seems so to the friends and family of the missing. All disappearances have twists, they are all interesting. They all deserve the same amount of coverage. Why is it that no one seems to want to hear or report on the missing who aren’t young, white, pretty , wealthy or female.(More often than not, it’s usually all of the above)Roy Peter Clark thinks he knows why. “It’s all about sex,” said Clark, vice president of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg,Fla.Young white women give editors and television producers what they want. “There are several common threads,” Clark said. “The victims that get the most coverage are female rather than male. They are white, in general, rather than young people of color. They are at least middle class, if not upper middle class.” (Link to his story)

I think it’s time that all missing person cases were covered the same way. Either they all get hours of media attention, or no one does. For more information on this “Missing White Woman Syndrome” read This Wiki article.

Writers note–I realize that not all white missing white women have received media coverage. There are tens of thousands of people that are missing that haven’t received the same coverage that those that I listed have received, and I am not demeaning those that have received vast amounts of media coverage in any way, shape or form. However, I stand by my statement that all missing people deserve the same sort of coverage, regardless of age, race, nationality, socio-economic class, creed, or sexuality.



  1. amen on that! it is a biased view that is for sure. but then you can get into a lot more things as well. take the tv station BET (black entertaniment tv, you coulnd’t have a WET (white enteraniment tv)without a major backlash. where is the cry for the coverage in missing cases? there would be more of an out cry over a stupid tv channel than their is for missing people.

    just goes to show, people are nuts, lol! 🙂

    Comment by Pete — June 20, 2007 @ 8:56 am | Reply

  2. Too true, Petey. It should be the same for everyone, regardless of race, religion or how much money they have. It was written that “all men are created equal” and it’s freaking time that it was put into effect.

    Comment by Becky — June 20, 2007 @ 9:01 am | Reply

  3. There are white people who don’t get coverage. Destiny Norton didn’t get any. Neither did a female white 17-year-old lifeguard who went missing from her post in 2000(her remains were found in 2003). There is a white girl from Spanish Fork, Utah who disappeared from her school in 1995. She never got coverage either. She’s never been found. If it’s a race thing, how come some white girls don’t get media attention?

    Comment by Lacee — June 20, 2007 @ 10:14 am | Reply

  4. It’s more of a socio-economic thing, than it is race. Race definetly plays a huge factor though, and no one can deny that.

    Comment by Becky — June 20, 2007 @ 10:31 am | Reply

  5. I agree with what you say. It’s generally true.

    Another factor is the willingness and ability of the family of the missing person to publicise and manage the media. It takes emotional and financial capital to do so.

    Comment by Seraphine — June 20, 2007 @ 2:35 pm | Reply

  6. Agreed with Seraphine- the ability of families to work with the media to publicize is huge. If they shut down and hide out (a very understandable reaction), the media will grow bored with running a story with no sad faces behind it. Sad, but true.

    And the socio-econimic plays a huge role too.

    Comment by Chris — June 21, 2007 @ 7:59 pm | Reply

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