Norma Lopez: Another victim of Missing White Woman Syndrome?
When 7-year-old Kyron Horman went missing from his Portland, Ore. school early last month, news outlets ranging from blogs to newspapers to TV stations raced to cover the story. His name quickly climbed up most-searched term lists and People magazine has been relentless in its documentation of each break in the case. Meanwhile, the case of another young boy who went missing at nearly the exact same time as Horman, Anthony Thomas, generated only a fraction of the coverage.
It was only a yet another example of the media’s crush to report on abductions and foul play involving white women and children, while giving little coverage to minorities who disappear: The latest example is 17-year-old Norma Lopez, who appears to have been kidnapped on her way home from summer school in Moreno Valley, Calif. Most of the coverage of Lopez’s disappearance has come from local news outlets, while the national attention to the case by places like the Los Angeles Times and CNN has been restricted to short blog posts — rising nowhere near the level that dominated the disappearances of girls like Elizabeth Smart and Natalee Holloway.
Media coverage is crucial to the cases of people who go missing because it is often vigilant members of the public who can play a role in helping law enforcement find the victim. Certainly a young, beautiful girl like Lopez and the eery circumstances surrounding her going missing — some of her belongings and “evidence of a struggle” were found in a field Lopez would walk through as a shortcut — are just as deserving of coverage as any other person — white, female or otherwise.