Journalism

Why Didn’t the Media Cover the Missing Children Story? It Did.

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Recently, a story about missing children in Georgia became a controversy and an attack on the media. But it wasn’t what some insisted it was.

Anytime I see a social media post demanding to know why the media didn’t cover some “huge” story, I become suspicious. When the story allegedly involves dozens of missing children, I become even more suspicious.

That’s because the media isn’t here to not cover things. And when we’re talking about a story about missing children being rescued and reunited with their families, that’s too good of a story to ignore.

But a recent Facebook post read: “Why is finding 39 missing children in a double-wide trailer in Georgia not the biggest story in America?!”

Ironically, Facebook users determine what the “biggest stories” are on that particular platform based on what they comment on and share with their friends. So when someone asks a question like that, I look to see if they’ve shared the story as well as the gripe. I find it’s almost always the case that they never share the story; they just complain.

That’s what we’ve become as a society these days, I’m sorry to say.

The story wasn’t what some people insisted it was.

The story people wanted to complain about no one covering was this: U.S. Marshals rescued 39 missing children from a single trailer in Georgia.

Imagine someone kidnapping 39 children and packing them into a single trailer. Can’t imagine that wouldn’t be big news? As someone who works in news, I can’t imagine that either.

I’ve seen this happen over and over again. The complaints come from people who’ve never worked in news, but love to complain about the industry. Any excuse they can find, no matter how false or invalid it is, turns out to be fair game.

You might expect them to do a little fact-checking of their own to boost their stand.

They don’t.

Before sharing the post, they could have visited the U.S. Marshals site to verify the facts.

Clearly, they didn’t.

If they had, they would have seen a news release stating the 39 children were rescued from various locations and various types of situations. They weren’t all missing children. They weren’t all packed into one double-wide trailer.

The news release directly from the agency states 26 children were rescued and 13 others whose location had not been clear were safely located.

From the news release:

These missing children were considered to be some of the most at-risk and challenging recovery cases in the area, based on indications of high-risk factors such as victimization of child sex trafficking, child exploitation, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and medical or mental health conditions. Other children were located at the request of law enforcement to ensure their wellbeing. USMS investigators were able to confirm each child’s location in person and assure their safety and welfare.

Not quite the same story, is it?

Beyond that, yes, the media did cover it.

The media did cover the factual version of the story. A quick Google search confirms that. CBS News covered it. CNN did, too. Fox News had it…and some of the people who make this kind of complaint never miss their Fox News! USA Today and The Washington Post also had it.

Why wasn’t it the “biggest story in America?” Well, through no fault of the national media.

And you can do a Google search to see plenty of local television stations and newspapers who also ran something on it.

People who put themselves in the position of “fact-checking” the fact-checkers ought to really try fact-checking themselves first.

They might be shocked at what they find.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.