Two missing boys, two different races, two types of coverage
I first heard rumblings about a missing 11-year-old boy in Washington D.C. when I checked my Twitter feed first thing this morning. After a bit of searching, I found the Washington Post headline buried toward the bottom of the page – despite a mention in the story that Anthony Thomas “is now considered a critical missing person” – a frightening admission by the police that the boy might be in terrible danger.
I was surprised then – though I now realize I shouldn’t have been – to see a story about a missing young boy other than Anthony Thomas plastered across the top slot on People magazine’s website. There, the mag sounds the alarm for 7-year-old Kyron Horman, who never made it back to his Portland, Ore., home after attending his elementary school class. Certainly no publication has the resources or the space to cover each youngster who goes missing – but given their similar ages, the times at which they disappeared, and the relative mystery surrounding both – wouldn’t it make sense for People to mention both boys?
Since they didn’t, it’s legitimate to assume that race might have played a role in the coverage. People is notorious for covering the cases of missing white women – Natalee Holloway, Caylee Anthony, Madeleine McCann, Laci Peterson, etc. – in exhausting and excruciating detail, while women with similar stories like Mitrice Richardson get far less coverage (Richardson made a People magazine cover, but shared it with a group of other missing persons, while white women like Holloway received their own covers – sometimes more than once).
I certainly hope that both Anthony Thomas and Kyron Horman both make it home safely and securely, and as soon as humanly possible. But even if they do, it’s possible that Thomas might already be the victim of a documented media bias that heaps concern on white people in peril, and ignores or downplays stories involving people of color who also go missing.