Eleven days after a young, pregnant woman who is black and Hispanic disappeared in Philadelphia, the national media are giving her the type of attention they have devoted to white women, reports USA Today. LaToyia Figueroa, 24, who is five months pregnant and the mother of a 7-year-old daughter, was last seen July 18 near her boyfriend’s home. Sgt. Ron McClane of the Philadelphia police told the Associated Press there was no evidence of foul play. A local crime commission was offering a $10,000 reward for help in finding her.
Her story was updated throughout yesterday on all three cable news networks: CNN, Fox, and MSNBC. Today, all four major broadcast networks were to run the story on their morning shows. Internet bloggers appear to have played a role in pushing Figueroa’s case into the spotlight. Philadelphia-area writers of Internet weblogs, or blogs, organized an e-mail campaign and coordinated their blogging efforts. They urged TV networks to give Figueroa’s story the same sort of attention they have given to Natalee Holloway, a white teen from Alabama who disappeared May 31 in Aruba, and Laci Peterson, the white, pregnant Californian who was murdered by her husband in 2002. Television networks are accused of reporting only on missing persons who are white, female and attractive. Men account for slightly more than half of the nearly 50,000 active missing persons cases in FBI files and that blacks account for nearly 30 percent; they make up just 13 percent of the population.