Friday, June 17, 2005

It's About Time Somebody Said It

USA Today takes time out from its Missing White Girl in Aruba coverage to point out that the media ignores missing person and murder stories when the victim is not white.

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.
I would say they all (or most of them) have a number of elements that make them "interesting" to news agencies and at-home voyeurs:
  • White chicks
  • Attractive white chicks
  • Affluent attractive white chicks
  • Not terribly bright affluent attractive white chicks
  • No fatties, please
  • Non-white suspects
  • Loads of irresponsible speculation
Speaking of irresponsible speculation, do you think that idiotic news agencies figure, "Well, minorities are the victims of crimes all the time, that's not news. But hey, this rich white girl might be the victim of a crime! Now that's news!" Are we really that stupid and racist and disgusting? Probably. I can think of a bunch of white women at the center of huge media stories: Natalee Holloway, Laci Peterson, Susan Smith, Jennifer Willbanks, JonBenet Ramsey, Jennifer Smart, that kid who fell down the well many years ago, that girl that Gary Condit killed, uh, I guess that’s it off the top of my head. The only minority woman I can think of is Tamika Huston, and only because I just read an article about her about 5 minutes ago. And she’s been missing for like a year.

My co-editor Mr. Grant points out that it’s like the reporting about Darfur. “Would it be "news" if that many French people were dying every day? Because it's not "news" that it's happening in Africa.” Well, maybe not the French, but the British, certainly. He further points out that the audience now drives what’s considered news, rather than the news organizations, or, you know, important worldwide events, and since the cable news audience is probably mostly white folks, the news corporations just give them what they want to see rather than what they need to see. I haven’t seen any figures about cable news viewer demographics broken down by race (anybody know where I can find some?) but I think the fact that Fox News is the leader in cable news viewership should tell you everything you need to know about who’s watching cable news the most.

Anyway, hopefully they find Natalee alive and well and partying on the beach somewhere. And it'd be nice if they could find Tamika too, while they're at it.

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