Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Media Beast has to be Fed

No-one, especially no parent, could fail to be moved by the Maddy McCann case, taking place in Portugal, but I just wonder if the media circus has not, ever so slightly, taken over? Thousands of children face similar tragic outcomes all the time, yet this particular case has transfixed the nation and beyond. Reason? It involves a photogenic child with successful, good looking parents, in a dream location, involved in every parent's nightmare.

Initially the media, which flocked over to the sunny holiday village to cover the story, were of assistance in alerting neighbours in the village and beyond, of the little girl's fate, and the police must have been grateful for the extended reach which media interest lent to their enquiries. But as soon as major news bulletins began to be anchored from Praia de Luz, I, for one, felt the thing was slipping out of control.

The most recent suspect, Robert Murat, might well be involved in the abduction, for all we know. He claims he's been made a 'scapegoat' and maybe he has- time will tell. But I suspect the appearance he gave of being a little too eager to please reminded some of the journos of Ian Huntley's behaviour back in Soham and so his name was mentioned to the police. Given the criticism they have received for not producing results we all crave, and given the clamouring massed presence of the media, they leapt upon the new possible lead with gratitude.

So far the police have said they have enough evidence to identify Murat as a 'suspect'(presumably this could be minimal) but not enough to arrest or charge him. He may or may not be innocent, but, in the circumstances he has at least served an important function in our modern times: to feed the media beast for a day or so.

I think we need to be cautious.

We need to remember a man is innocent until proven guity and our friends in the printed and electronic media tend to forget this concept of justice: the printed media competes for sales and 24 hour news channels like Sky become obsessed with cases like this for advertising revenue and justice is the last consideration.

Speculation just adds to the misery being endured by the family concerned.
I rather agree. All the guy's relations and friends seem to say he could never ever do anything to hurt anyone and I suspect he will be spat out by the whole process in a short while.
John Simpson agrees with you; he pointed out in a speech/Q&A yesterday the disproportionality of anchoring in Praia de Luz (I'll take your word on the location; I haven't followed the story myself) when much more significant and terrible events go unreported.
Recommend reading this ( if you havent already. Pretty disturbing really regarding the 'whodunnit' soap opera that this whole case has become thanks to the media...
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