Archive for May, 2010

Do we only care about dead pretty girls?

May 10, 2010

Is the media fixated on good looking blonde girls when they become victims of crime? Does a good looking dead girl get better ratings?

It’s a topic I discussed with my class this week but it really hits home following the tragedy at UVA. Student Yeardley Love. Yeardley was a good looking 22 year old days from her graduation found dead in her dorm room – her boyfriend is charged with the murder.

What really surprises me is how the media jumped on this within hours of the murder. Leading the charge seemed to be the Today Show.

No doubt it’s a story. But if it was an African American or Hispanic student would it have gotten the same amount of attention?

I can bet the ranch that the answer is no.

Think back on the stories involving women as victims of crime and almost all if not all were white. To name a few: Laci Peterson, Natalee Holloway, and Audrey Sellers – the college student who created her own disappearance that turned out to be a hoax.

Yes we should do what we can to publicize and help find missing people. But as an industry if there were two missing girls, each 19, each with a pretty face and smile, each with a “good” reputation, both straight A students but one is black and the other is white which one would get the media coverage.

Did it take you more than 5 seconds to come up with what the media would probably do? You can bet the odds are the white woman would get billing above the fold.

Is this right? No

Is there a good excuse? Nope.

Does it make sense? Unfortunately, some might understand why in very disturbing way. (It’s not acceptable.)

The appearance is that we – in the media – only care about the good looking white girl.

This is wrong. So wrong. But what can we do about it? As news managers, journalists and bloggers we need to keep this issue transparent and raise the concern when we see a news organization playing for the “pretty face” card.

If you work in a newsroom you need to raise the issue when you see it.

If you watch TV or see this happening on a site or blog you need to raise the issue as the consumer.

We have to come face to face with this issue, now.