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MA Walshe Disappearance A Case Of 'Missing White Woman Syndrome'

The case of Ana Walshe in Cohasset, Ma., is reviving the conversation about whether news outlets devote too much time to covering the disappearances of white women, a term the late Gwen Ifill dubbed "missing white woman syndrome," says CNN's Oliver Darcy in an email newsletter. California State University Sacramento Prof. Danielle Slakoff, who studies how the media covers crime, said Walshe's case is saturating media coverage, while similar stories of other missing people, often those of color, are not covered. "What we continue to see ... is that certain victims get more media attention than others," Slakoff said, adding that several studies "have shown racial differences."

Martin Reynolds of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education agreed. "When looking at this case, it has all the makings of a story national and local news media are going to jump all over," Reynolds told me saying that Walsh is white and "also attractive and appears to live in a community where there isn't an expectation that such a disappearance would occur." Reynolds said the "disappearances of indigenous and Black women and children" also deserve equal coverage from news organizations. "Journalists are making value judgments and articulating through coverage who is important and whose life has value," Reynolds said. As of Thursday morning, a Washington Post summary of the Walshe case was listed as the "most read" story on the newspaper's website, even though the piece contained little news.


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