It's never going to be color.
I was on my way to 2nd man for the crew covering the disappearance of Sharon Anne Santos. Okay, maybe I should explain the term "2nd man". That's newsroom shorthand for saying that the primary photographer and reporter get another photographer to assist out in the field. That's not vital information for this post, that's just how I happened to be on the story. On the way to the location, I was listening to a local talk-radio program. The topic of conversation was something that always perks me up. Fairness in "the media". Actually, lack of fairness. I'm sure you knew that. The question posed was specifically whether the major news organizations have provided more coverage in stories of missing persons if that person happened to be white, female, and pregnant. I couldn't believe that was actually a topic of conversation on talk radio. Are people really asking themselves this question?
I couldn't follow the program very long. As typical, my job kept getting in the way. What I did hear irritated me. This is the type of ignorance I try to discourage whenever possible.
What else can we do? This is the story.
The friends and family of Sharon Anne Santos was holding a rally in their neighborhood to keep the public aware of their daughter's case. As cars drove by, with the driver's permission, they taped copies of the missing poster to the cars.
Relevant? Maybe. Ironic? Yeah, well, I don't know if any national media covered the story. I don't know what the other Los Angeles news stations were doing. I do know that I was there. A reporter and another photographer were there. I couldn't tell you what it is about the Laci Petterson case and cases like it that draw in so much national attention.
I just believe you're missing the point when you look to media coverage with the expectation of some secret agenda or bias based on race. If you're really trying to help society, you're never going to accomplish anything just by questioning why "THE MEDIA" is covering a story. At least, not if you don't follow up by asking, "Why is the public watching?"
We're in the business of news. There are stories that need to be told and there are stories that the public wants to hear. Our business success depends on attracting viewers. So, when people stop watching stories that involve car chases, celebrity court cases, and fill-in-the-blank-with-the-story-of-which-you've-seen-enough, we'll probably stop covering them.
In the meantime, if you see Sharon Anne Santos, tell her to call home. Even though she's not white and probably not pregnant, I'd still like it if she turned up safe.