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.