My Pig Got More Publicity Than Your Murdered Child: The Demise of Localized Media and Its Effect on Criminal Cases
|What About that Dead Child in YOUR town?|
If I went around the neighborhood and asked folks about local homicides, I would draw a blank look from most of them. "Who? I don't remember that girl." "Oh, yeah, I remember hearing about that murder. Whatever happened? Did anyone get arrested?" But, if I asked them about JonBenet Ramsey or Caylee Anthony or Natalee Holloway or any victim of murder showcased on Nancy Grace in the past few weeks, I might get a blow-by-blow account of the entire police case. In fact, it is not just the citizens who lack interest in local news, the local news media isn't all that interested either. You can call until you are blue in the face trying to get the local newspaper or television station to cover anything in depth. In all my years of dealing with the media (and that includes 3000 appearances on television and radio and many print interviews), the most success I had getting the media to do an in-depth story on a crime was when the local authorities tried to evict my 20-year-old potbelly pig, Gwendolyn, from my home. I got an big interview with The Washington Post complete with photo and all three local television stations came out to do a story on Gwendolyn. I even had the County Executive's office ask me if the then County Exec, Jack Johnson, could come out and do a photo op with my pig (I declined the offer; I told them only one swine was allowed on my property at a time; Johnson is now serving time in prison).
|My Pig Got More Publicity Than Your Murdered Child|
But, when I went to the media over any local crime, I had no luck. Sure, they called me up when they wanted me to do commentary on an area homicide (gotta get those gory cases into the news at least for the short emotional impact) but, any real reporting on cases never happened. And because the local cases get so little attention, police departments know they have no citizenry oversight, no media is going to be breathing down their neck; the family is pretty much left to fight on their own and that is almost always a losing battle.
We no longer have many local organizations to fight for victims' rights; we have national organizations that manage money more than make a difference. We have a mass of information with websites full of photos of missing and dead children from all over the country but, locally, those children are ignored.
Talking about a case ad nauseum does little for justice because those talking about the case (online or on television) have no effect on local authorities because they don't give a damn what people think outside of their jurisdiction (unless it becomes a racial issue). And as long as people spend more time focused on matters that are hundreds or thousands of miles away from where they live, they give local authorities carte blanche to handle local matters any way they please.
Lack of oversight by citizenry is one reason we see so many unsolved cases. Hence the reason that I feel I must work with the detectives inside the department improving how cases are handled because, these days, no one from the outside is paying any mind.
Criminal Profiler Pat Brown
August 21, 2014