Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sandeela vs. Caylee OR Ratings vs Real News

I have long been disgusted by media bias in reporting on abused, missing, or kidnapped girls. Soccer moms, young women, and the West at large thirst and beg for news stories when cute, white, photogenic, or socio-economically-matched girls are affected. Natalie Holloway is an excellent example. Caylee Anthony is another. Madeleine McCann is unfortunately another.

As far as I'm concerned, Natalie Holloway was a stupid partier who got drunk and agreed to "take a ride" with strangers. Social Darwinism and natural selection at work. Caylee and Madeleine are different cases--their situations are an unfortunate result of bad parenting and a dangerous world. And despite how this article may read, I do hope and pray that Madeleine and Caylee are found safely.

However, why do we hear about these particular stories? Women and girls go missing by the millions. 113-200 million women and girls are "missing" as I am typing this. Over 1.5 million lose their lives through violence or neglect every year. Why are these three special?

Moreover, given the recent premiere of Honor Killings in the US through the murder of an equally unique and important American girl, Sandeela Kanwal, why is Caylee dominating news coverage? If anything, the advent of this violent epidemic on American shores should dominate the news. Yet we hear very little to nothing about it in favor of another story of bad parenting and unfortunate mishap.

800,000 kids go missing in the country every year. How often do you hear stories of little Puerto Rican girls in New York, black girls in Birmingham, or Mexican-American girls in California being kidnapped or going missing? Ever? Can you recall one? I can't. Why is this? Are all the missing kids white and middle class?

Is it ratings versus real news? This is my argument. When America sees a non-white child go missing, they dismiss it as crime from the inner city or some other social evil that we don't want to talk about. When a poor kid goes missing, it's probably some white trash father or podunk redneck to blame. More than this, most people in this country are white and middle class--when a story hits close to home or seems like it could affect them (or their kids in this case), they watch. The need. The yearn for every detail. It becomes a soap opera that penetrates America's heart; deep down inside we want the Lost to be found so we can rest assured at night that our kids are safe.

Thus, the media ignores real news--Sandeela's demise at the behest of her "dis-honored" father--for the Soap Opera this-can-happen-to-you news--Caylee, Madeleine, and Natalie--so that we watch...and watch...and wait for news. To quote a graduate professor of mine: "The Press are whores to sensationalism and ratings." I hold this truth to be self-evident.


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