James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Posts Tagged ‘dead girls’

Where the dead white girls are

Posted by James McPherson on April 1, 2009

There are five things you can almost guarantee about a missing person who becomes a lead story in the news, with Sandra Cantu providing the latest example.

First, unless it’s an extremely bizarre case, the victim will be female. We worry a lot more about women and girls than we do about men and boys, and we are more “entertained” by crime against females. Watch a few episodes of almost any fictional crime show on television, and it will quickly become obvious that our crime coverage mirrors far too much of our fictional entertainment.

Second, the victim will be young: perhap a girl, perhaps a young woman, but not middle-aged or elderly. By the way, this makes Nancy Grace an even bigger freak than she would be anyway, because she so widely publicizing the antics of her own twins at the same time that she’s scaring people all over America about what might happen to their own kids.

Third, the victim will be white.

Fourth, the she’ll be attractive in a traditional white-American sense–the type who makes grandmothers say she was “so cute” or “so pretty.”

Fifth, when the victim’s body turns up–and, sadly, they rarely seem to come back alive–she’ll be no more dead than 25,000 or so other children who died the same day.

Of course, almost none of us will ever know the names of all those other children, and Grace won’t be screeching for justice on their behalf. Another difference is that almost all of those other deaths were more preventable by society as a whole than are the random killings of pretty white girls that the media glorify so much.

Posted in History, Journalism, Legal issues, Women, Written elsewhere | Tagged: , , , , | 20 Comments »