Why are some missing person stories so much more newsworthy than others?

Okay, so I read on Wikipedia that the majority of child murders are done by a relative, either the parents or a teenager or uncle or somebody, so the ones where a stranger abducts the kid and they go missing for a few days before being found deceased are national-news worthy, b/c of rarity, ie the florida girl.

But what about missing persons who aren’t ‘kids’ or even teens? The story about the teen in Aruba, for instance; she’s a teen, so she is a kid still, and so it’s very rare for her to be abducted and murdered by anyone. But what about other missing people who become national news stories up until they’re found dead or okay, like Dru Sjodin in North Dakota who was alive, etc.; anyone know what news agencies use to decide which ones are worthy of the most attention?

Don’t bring up the run away bride. :rolleyes:

Wasn’t there a thread on this about a week ago? I’m too lazy to look it up.

My cynical answer would be how much the editors and producers of media outlets think a particular story will appeal to their target audience.

Read: Is the child/person white and cute/attractive?

Think about it: How often do you hear about non-caucasians being abducted on the national news?

Now that I think about it, the thread I had in mind dealt more directly with the young Australian woman who was convicted of drug smuggling in Indonesia. But the question posed was identical thatof this thread. Some good points were made, IIRC.

The idea of race is a strong theory indeed! I knew it would be brought up, but I was hoping there was more of an answer than that. But yes, it is true; we heard about Jean Benet but almost no mention of the young black girl who was found murdered later that month (I’m quoting a book I read on serial killers).

That is the most widely believed idea. Are there any non-racial factors too? Also, non-wealth factors (how rich the abducted/family is) and non-pulp factors (the cynical idea posted above that newspapers really do want to have the most interesting horrible stories to attract readers). Anyone ever work with a reporting agency?

I suspect that wealth is a factor. Would this have got as much play if she was from a poor family on welfare?

No, I’m not saying these things aren’t factors- I am, obviously. The following are major factors:
How interesting the murder/kidnapping is

I didn’t say they aren’t. I said can anyone name some different factors besides these? As in, is there ever a criminology/sociology expert who clues them in- ‘hey guys, real import murder here! Probably one of the most significant in our culture’s history! Cnn should report it, with diagrams and stuff!’ And they do.

Probably not. :smiley:

Or are there ever any trends that I should know about that make some murders significant; the ones I do know about so far are obviously school shootings (those would get reported anyways :wink: ), and the fact that this year we had ‘judge violence’, as in the guy who killed the judge, and the people who killed? the kids of the woman judge? Trends make some murders significant b/c they seem like a scary new thing… :eek:

I’m going to say that race, age & gender are very important in missing person cases. Pretty white girls and young women get the most attention. I’m also believe that attractive young white killers get the most attention. The most attention would go to attractive young white people who kill atractive young white girls, Like Ted Bundy.

One factor that comes immediately to mind is whether there are more important news stories to cover. Had terrorists managed to kill over a thousand people in Los Angeles with nerve gas just before this girl diappeared in Aruba, she’d never have made national news.

Excellent point. Take a look at cnn.com. For me right now at 9:43 pm on Saturday the other top headline links are

•Arlene makes landfall near Pensacola

• Marines: 40 insurgents killed in Iraq

• Debt to be cancelled for poor nations

• Girl to get cancer treatment her parents opposed

• Rice takes stage for soprano battling rare disease

• Rising water changing Utah’s Great Salt Lake

• Are Yellowstone grizzlies no longer endangered?

• Royal pomp for queen’s birthday

So yet another hurricane is hitting Florida, and we killed 40 Iraqis. Nothing new… :smiley:

In the world news section, we have the death toll from a Chinese school flood yesterday now rises to 64. Yesterday’s news, even if so tragic, and it happened in China. That brings me to the other global news story, the Chinese hotel fire that killed 30. We all know that we care more about an attractive middle/upper class white girl getting murdered here in the US- b/c we have family that meets that description and it hits close to home- than about the unfortunate 30 in the hotel today across the Pacific.

The Aruba case had a young, white, American, blonde female victim who happened to be on some kind of high school trip when she disappeared from a “tropical paradise.” In other words, your basic parental nightmare, guaranteed to pump ratings.

And I bet you the Chinese News didnt care too much about our collumbine.

According to this newspaper article, http://www.grandforks.com/mld/grandforks/news/special_packages/dru_sjodin/ , they found Dru’s body about 4 months after she disappeared.

The “holiday” rule is in effect.

Something has to lead the news, but if an event is first reported on a holiday,
its when government is closed and corporations are not making announcements.
There’s less news from those sources.

Oops-:smack: I had her confused with another college-age girl who was believed kidnapped around the same time in 2003/2004 maybe and who was later found fine; they thought it was a hoax, possibly.

Shows how much I follow these special interest/tragedy stories… they are significant, but as we’ve talked about, why follow some of them and not the ones that don’t get reported?

“Missing” may be the key word here too. There was a college girl from the University of Kansas that was studying in Costa Rica a few years back who disappeared and later was found murdered. I don’t remember her disappearance getting anywhere near the national press that this current case is getting, but on the other hand I don’t think she had been missing that long, I think they found her body within a couple of days.

I would bet they did, but mainly for propaganda purposes rather than news.

Another factor is how much good footage and comment they can get. If the family goes to ground and won’t talk etc. then a story won’t get as much coverage as if the family is prepared to cry and plead on TV.

[nitpick with a hijack]

They found Dru? :confused: I thought they found her unfortunately . . . expired.


Really, did I miss something?

Whoa! Sorry. . .

I didn’t see LSLGuy’s post.