Criticizing coverage of Natalee Holloway’s disappearance in Aruba has turned into a sport. It’s not hard to see why it is this generation’s "Francisco Franco is still dead" story or why it’s easy to criticize much of the coverage. But anyone who forgets grief, tragedy and quite likely death lie at the heart of this story only makes matters worse. Try putting the name of someone you love in place of hers as the punchline and see how funny it feels. It’s possible to criticize coverage without diminishing the victims — maybe a little harder, but doable.
Coda: An ongoing missing-person’s story here in St. Louis has me thinking about the potential harm of what has become a campaign against "missing white woman syndrome" using national media frenzies as examples. Amanda Jones, a nine-months pregnant single white woman, disappeared Aug. 14. Her story has been in the news here since soon after her car was found abandoned that day — and rightly so. After 20-plus years in this market, I truly believe the attention level would be the same for a woman in similarly vulnerable circumstances with any color skin — particularly one whose family or friends can sound the alarm. I hope no one whose life might be saved by shedding a little light is ever kept in the dark because a news organization thinks covering the story is politically incorrect.