Journalism Professor Explains Disparity, Inequity in Media Coverage of Missing Women

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

BAY CURRENT, KCBS-AM (SAN FRANCISCO) -- The story of Gabby Petito — a pretty, 22-year-old white woman with an Instagram following — and her boyfriend turned fugitive Brian Laundrie, the prime suspect in her murder, have captivated much of the nation and the world with the media’s breathless coverage.

This story has also forced an important conversation about the disparity and inequity in how the media covers stories of missing and murdered women of color.

“For centuries, white women have been placed very high up on a pedestal — so much so that their virtue has been protected by society, and if there is ever any breach of that virtue, then it becomes a main story or huge story,” said Venise Wagner, professor of Journalism at San Francisco State University. “Frankly, society is still thinking in this way.”