World News Wednesday Focus: The Journalistic Notion of Objectivity: Missing White Girl Syndrome (Part 1)

You are a very privileged girl.

You are White.






If you go missing, everyone in America will know about it before the dust from your abductor’s truck settles.

Your face, your “all-American girl” story will saturate the media. 

Reporters will dote on your “girl-next-door” sweetness and light.

Only the good about you shall be spoken. Negatives will be downplayed. Nothing shall mar the dominant image of the all-American girl. 

News coverage of major wars, economic crisis, celebrity gossip, and even coverage of minority criminals will be obliterated by the light that shines upon your fair head.

Never fear, Princess.

The media is all yours. 

You have no competition. 

You, fair one, are the most important missing girl of them all. Far more significant than the dusky ones…

Does this scenario make you angry?


Because you believe it is a lie?

Or the truth?

According to NCIC (National Crime Information Center)‘s 2002-2003 Missing Persons file, in the six-month period before and after Elizabeth Smart was found, 119 other young minority girls abducted throughout the U.S. were found – some dead, some alive.




U.S. news media chose to focus exclusively and extensively on Elizabeth Smart.



In 2003, as the media made Laci Peterson the poster woman for murdered wives, 804 other minority women were killed by their husbands.




U.S. news media ignored nearly every one of the minority cases.



In 2005, when Natalee Holloway was murdered in the Caribbean, at least 26 other minority American girls were also murdered in various countries, as documented by FBI Statistics for EMJ/EMI Missing Persons.




U.S. news coverage focused solely, and exhaustively on Natalee Holloway.



These are just a few examples of news value choices made by American media concerning whom to focus on in reporting – choices which evidence a glaring lack of journalistic objectivity.

Says Chicago Tribune columnist D. Turner Trice, “If we took all of our cues from the media, we’d be forced to conclude that the only people who come up missing in this country are young girls and women who are white. Who are middle-to-upper-class. Who are cute as a button. Let’s not forget blonde

The exclusivity of reporting solely on missing/murdered white girls conveys the unspoken message that although statistics of missing/murdered minority girls far exceeds that of white girls, it is only white girls who are significant enough to deserve massive news coverage.

Moreover, the lack of news coverage of non-white missing/murdered girls sends a clear ideological message about who is more valued, and thereby more worthy of news coverage in this society.


Your thoughts?


Read Part 2 and my Op-Ed 


“The Journalistic Notion of Objectivity: Missing White Girl Syndrome.”


World News Wednesday


17 thoughts on “World News Wednesday Focus: The Journalistic Notion of Objectivity: Missing White Girl Syndrome (Part 1)

  1. Well,yeah you are absolutely right!Even if I am a young white girl,i totally agree with you and i was chocked to discover how much girls/women from other ethnicities were abducted and I didn’t even know…But the only things that I don’t like about your article is that 1.being white doesn’t just mean being blonde,thin,pretty and young 2.I get your point,but it’s not our fault if the media only cares about us because we’re white…we’re not all ”little princesses”.Except for that,I think you’re right!

  2. I certainly appreciate your point of view — and just wait; someone is going to say something stupid like, “That little (minority) girl is cute — we should help her family find her. And no one will see the blatant prejudice of the whole action.

    • Hi, Judi. I’m so glad you get it! 🙂 It seems that it’s difficult for most people to pick up on things like this because they appear so normal & acceptable. However, it’s completely unacceptable for our news media to ignore entire sectors of society. Thank you for your enlightened comment!

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