The parents of Madeline McCann will step up and speak out in
court as victims of the recent phone hacking scandal alongside Chris
the former landlord of Jo Yeates. This recent exposure of the News of
World’s phone hacking antics confirms the need for an investigation
media conduct. The UK media and The News of the World in particular
of these cases and provided the public with detailed coverage. In the
case, Lord Justice Leveson will scrutinize the methods used by these
to obtain information about the investigations but not the motives
running such extensive coverage on these particular girls in the first
The media functions to keep the world connected and although
it is incredible that the privacy of vulnerable people is abused for a
initiative we are reminded through this that media is still a business.
disappearances of Madeline McCann and Jo Yeates created a lot of
Rupert Murdoch – although the reader is morally obliged not to
coverage of a young girl’s disappearance in terms of financial gain.
When Madeline McCann disappeared in 2007, Murdoch’s The News
of the World hogged the media spotlight with an exclusive announcing a
million reward for Madeline’s safe return – the paper even donated a
£250,000 to the cause. It is a shame to think that all this effort fell
Before the figure was finalised a “mistaken” text message was sent to
of people confirming the reward total; the phone number provided to
information was that of News of the World, not Scotland Yard. The News
World may have bought a good reputation, but like all material things,
reputation has now perished.
Cases such as those of Madeline McCann and Jo Yeates are
sadistically sweet to the media because they qualify as newsworthy in
imaginable. Girls at the centre of such cases share similar case
are typically vulnerable, middle class and beautiful – in a young,
Caucasian sort of way. There is a term for this discrimination: Missing
A paper published in 2007 by Sarah Stillman discusses this
media trend: “These messages are powerful: they position certain
women – often white, wealthy and conventionally attractive – as
our collective resources, while making the marginalisation of other
women, such as low-income women of colour, seem natural.”
becomes a frightening issue when the attitude of the media toward a
girl directly impacts upon her fate.
Days before Jo Yeates’ disappearance on 17 December 2010, 14
year old Serena Beakhurst was also reported missing. Media interest in
Yeates was fierce, and subsequently there was a frighteningly pathetic
police involvement in Serena’s case. Her family and friends were forced
matters into their own hands, using social networking sites such as
and Twitter to find Serena themselves. We can only speculate on the
media motives for favouring Jo Yeates but to an onlooker the only
between the girls is that whilst Jo was a white, blonde, University
Serena is a mixed race girl from South East London.
Four years on and awareness of Madeline McCann gushes into the realms of
the retail world where an online shop boasts t-shirts, vests, bracelets,
stickers and luggage tags under the new brand name “find Madeleine”.
Kate McCann’s new book is also available in any supermarket. The Sun
remains on the case as the voice of Madeline and her parents, pleading
to the nation: “Never Give Up”. The notoriety of Madeleine’s
disappearance has sparked Prime Minister David Cameron into action as he
insists the case be re-opened, a flicker of hope for the parents of
Madeleine. With enough effort and time from the police, the public and
the government, their daughter may one day come home.
Hundreds of children are reported missing every day, the power of media
discrimination is terrifying.