Did Remote Alabama Location Diminish Coverage of Child Hostage Crisis?


Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon mulls the rather modest coverage of the Midland City, Ala., hostage crisis. Was media attention diminished by its Alabama location? The Chicago Sun-Times’ Marcus Gilmer thinks so. He wrote, “That’s partly because the story didn’t happen in New York, Dallas, or Chicago. Not even a mid-sized city like Kansas City, Sacramento, or Memphis. No, the story unfolded in Midland, Alabama, a small town of less than 2,500 people just northwest of Dothan in the southeast corner of the state. One of the main reason little was said on-air about the crisis, particularly by local outlets, was at the request of local authorities because the kidnapper – Jimmy Lee Dykes – had a television in his bunker and could monitor coverage.”

Dykes allegedly stormed a school bus, shot its driver and took a 5-year-old boy hostage in an underground bunker for days. Agents stormed the bunker and killed Dykes on Monday. What more did cable news need? Undeniably, Beaujon writes, a heavily populated metropolitan area teeming with journalists would produce more coverage of a bizarre crime like the one allegedly perpetrated in the Alabama city of 2,500 near Dothan.

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