Sunday, July 31, 2005

I have a dream

In light of the enormous response from the posts folks about Latoyia Figeuroa's disappearance at ASZ, Philly Future, Tattered Coat, etc., mainstream media has not only picked up Latoyia's story but there has at least been discussion about differential coverage of missing persons by the media. This can only be a good thing as I've noticed that some of the discussion on threads in other places (including the message board at, where an expectant mom from Alabama picked up on the story and started a thread) and the comments show that the assumption that the viewing public would only pay attention to stories about missing people if they are "attractive", affluent & white may be wrong (in more ways than one).

Truth be told, it is the local media's responsibility to pick up a story of a local missing person when the police start investigating. A family in distress should not have to go begging for assistance to gain a little publicity in these matters (affluent families seem to be more media savvy, which is probably one of the reasons they do have an easier time obtaining coverage). In most cases, if there is a chance to locate someone (or provide details about something observed that "didn't seem quite right") that information would come from someone in a local geographic region. Mind you, depending on the metropolitan area and the amount of time that has lapsed, it's fully possible someone who's been kidnapped (or run away) could get out of the region pretty quickly, so national coverage of some sort could also be helpful in leading to recovery.

A missing person is not a liberal v. conservative issue; it's not a racial issue; it's not an issue of socio-economic class. A missing person is a human issue and even a person with significant misanthropic tendencies such as myself can sympathize with a family member/friend who fears the worst for someone they care about. I am sure those who've made light of Latoyia's situation and/or made derogatory comments on posts would shit the proverbial brick if someone they cared about just vanished without a trace one day (and I'm pretty damned sure that if they, themselves, were a victim, they'd be praying that someone would help find them without passing judgment on their worthiness).

So onto my dream, which is more of a nice day dream than a fantasy because it's doable. Lots of folks have blogads (I don't because there is no reason for me to have them). I suggest blog PSAs (public service announcements) for missing persons; yes, I'm suggesting blogs become today's milk cartons. My ultimate goal (with which I need help, since I have no idea how to do this myself) is for bloggers to be able to register somewhere so they can place missing person PSAs on their blog that will be generated randomly to rotate those currently on police/FBI blotters as missing persons. Yep, I'm thinking national: a blogger can input a zipcode that will autogenerate 2 or 3 local/regional missing persons + one from outside their region to maximize coverage. This way, my blog could have PSAs like the one for Latoyia, one for Khalid (if you're in South Philly, check him out, he's right below my profile), one for Richard Petrone & Danielle Imbo who are from the Philly metro area, and one for someone like Tamika Huston or any one of the whole host of other folks listed here.

The plan right now is to start locally. Howard & Karl at Philly Future, and Tulin at Politics Philly had similar ideas and we plan on contacting the Philly PD to pitch the idea (if they haven't done so already). Hopefully, we'll have some sort of RSS feed or something bloggers can just pick up on in the near future. Regardless of the outcome in the search for Latoyia, her legacy will be that the fight to obtain coverage for her disappearance lead to a new awareness that may help others in the future.

Join the campaign by contacting your local Police to get them to think about this idea.

I have to give a belated hat tip to Terrance Heath, since I first read Richard's letter to Nancy Grace at Republic of T.

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