The media frenzy that ensued during her case, while undeniably tragic, also pointed to the imbalanced reporting efforts for people who are not young, white, and female.
In turn, The Columbia Journalism Review hopes that its new tool, entitled “How Much Press Are You Worth?” will play a role in media coverage reform.
After all, the amount of people who know about a person’s disappearance is significantly tied to that person’s chance of being found.
“Columbia Journalism Review believes it’s time for change. Who you are and what you look like should not determine your likelihood of being found.”
The digital tool was based on a nationally representative sample of over three thousand and six hundred news stories about missing persons collected between January and November of 2021.
“Of this sample, 2,383 stories concerned one or more specific missing individuals, covering 735 unique missing persons who were identified and categorized by age, gender, race/ethnicity, and geography.”
Finally, each missing person was cross-referenced against the NAMUS database, and the publishers, potential reach, and social sharing for each missing person’s news story were analyzed.
In addition to seeing how much news coverage you would be “worth,” users of the online tool can see how many times they would appear in local news outlets versus national news outlets.
Users can also learn what news outlets would be more likely to report on their disappearance and what percentage of Americans would hear about their case.
For instance, eighty-six percent of Americans would hear about a missing white twenty-two-year-old woman from Long Island.
Less than five percent of Americans would hear about a missing fifty-year-old Hispanic male from Texas.