How Gabby Petito’s case captivated the internet
Martin G. Reynolds, executive director of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, said he was struck by the disproportionate focus of news outlets on missing white women, a focus he said is compounded by competitive coverage. (At a journalism conference in 2004, PBS presenter Gwen Ifill described this phenomenon as “missing white woman syndrome.”)
The demographics of the industry are a big factor, Mr. Reynolds said.
“Our newsrooms do not reflect the diversity of the country, and the people in editing positions are even less diverse,” said Reynolds, whose organization works with journalists of color. “Until journalism corrects this, we will continue to be less and less relevant to audiences that reflect the future.”
Online interest in Ms Petito’s case has also prompted editors to follow her story closely.
“Journalism in general tends to be reactionary, and if we see something explode on any of these platforms, we’re going to jump over it,” Mr. Reynolds said.
Alvin Williams, host of “Affirmative Murder,” a podcast that focuses on real crimes with black and brunette victims, echoed Mr. Reynolds’ analysis.
“I’m incredibly happy that she gets the resources to help her find her,” Williams, 29, said in an interview on Sunday before law enforcement announced it had recovered a susceptible body. to be Ms. Petito, “but there is an obvious disproportionate attention to her story,” he said.
“We can play the game of ‘Oh that’s because she was a vlogger’ and all that stuff, but we can also see that she’s a Gen Z, blonde, little girl, and that’s what clicked, ”Mr. Williams added.