Over the past few weeks, news outlets have had no shortage of information or updates on the Gabby Petito case that took the nation by storm. You’re probably familiar with this situation but not of other cases that happened around the same time with similar circumstances. For example, the disappearance of Lauren Cho, a missing woman who was last seen in June, is very similar to Gabby Petito’s as she was also traveling with her boyfriend before her disappearance.
News coverage and police investigative efforts for missing person cases of people of color tend to be unequal compared to white women, and the Gabby Petito case is a perfect example of that. Why is this the case? According to Gwen Ifill, a former journalist for The Washington Post, this is because of “Missing White Woman Syndrome,” a term she coined to explain why whenever there’s a missing white woman, the media covers it daily until they are found. In contrast, cases from minorities don’t get the same urgency.
I hope that every missing person case can get the level of coverage as that of the Gabby Petito case in the future, but this can only happen when we hold the media accountable for covering all cases with the same level of importance. Along with the case of Lauren Cho, other instances include that of Jelani Day, a graduate student at Illinois State University whose missing person case recently turned into a murder investigation, and that of Daniel Robinson, a field geologist who was last seen in June. Please try to stay informed of these and other missing person cases receiving less media coverage and spread the word via social media so they can get the attention they deserve.