The Journalistic Notion of Objectivity: Missing White Girl Syndrome


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 mediaconcerning 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.


What are your thoughts on Missing White Girl Syndrome?



Read Part 2 & the Op-Ed of "The Journalistic Notion of Objectivity: Missing White Girl Syndrome" 

World News Wednesday at 




In order to comment on, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.