Media Obsession With Damsels in Distress
According to a cable news employee who was willing to state the obvious on an anonymous basis, “We showcase missing, young, white, attractive women because our research shows we get more viewers. It’s about beating the competition and ad dollars.”
Quite right. While, in the spirit of all men being equal, the disappearance of a beautiful white teenager whose parents can afford to send her to Aruba is no more heartwrenching than that of a poor black kid from Compton, we all know that the latter would not get a nanosecond of television time.
His analysis strikes me as spot-on:
The tabloidization of everything is, frankly, a little more important than whether or not Elisabeth Bumiller is tough enough on the Bush White House. But there’s more to it than just that. Obsessive coverage of DiDs is just one of several phenomena that continues to convince Americans Ã¢€” especially suburban, white Americans Ã¢€” that the world is a far more dangerous place than it really is. The rate of kidnappings and missing children has actually plummeted in recent years, but a constant drumbeat of TV coverage focused on DiDs and kids presents a compelling visual narrative that’s the exact opposite of reality.
Yep. I don’t blame the press for covering the things that history has proven will generate audience share and therefore ad revenues. The business of the media is ultimately business, as it is for any other for profit enterprise. That doesn’t make it less depressing, however.