By Cyndi Caron
I’m going to be brutally honest here. Families of missing loved ones have a better chance of winning their state lottery, or in receiving an all expense paid trip around the world, including flights and hotel stays, than they do of getting their missing family member on those shows.
Why? Because for one most of what is presented has been on schedule for weeks by the producers and writers as well as the already interruptions when breaking news happens such as the devastating Haiti earthquake. Unless there is serious foul play involved, in which your local media is constantly portraying, and the surroundings of your missing loved one includes sensationalism, such as the spouse is a suspect who has been found to be committing adultery after your loved one goes missing and more so if children involved, along with your missing “Suzy” having a pristine background, it’s highly unlikely that her status will be aired.
Unfortunately, it’s television. The more scandal the better chance of your “story” being aired.
When is the last time you’ve seen a missing overweight runaway teen with acne, or a missing black male teenager portrayed on a nationally syndicated news or show? Is physical beauty a necessary requirement to capture the attention of viewers? Or as some African Americans will say “only white missing kids make it to those shows?”
What about missing adults? Why aren’t they portrayed? Is it due to the wrong mentality that “adults have a right to go missing?” Yes, nationally syndicated news agencies picked up on Ohio’s “missing mom” Tiffany Tehan, but that was only after it was realized she was spotted on video cameras weeks before with a mystery male. Yes, that story was indeed picked up due to the startling fact that missing mom was seemingly becoming a “runaway mom” leaving behind a church-going husband and her infant daughter. Personally, no adult has the right to go missing unless they are willing to notify their local police agency first. They have a right to leave, but to go missing? No.
So what are the criteria and how do families of missing get their loved ones on these shows?
Let’s start off with Nancy Grace’s show. While at times her show can be quite interesting, it is nearly always about the same case over and again with “breaking news” that happened days or even weeks ago and already known from online readers. While Nancy “gets to the matter” and nearly asks all the questions, that you the viewer want to know, her show is really not set up to portray multiple cases in an equal amount of airtime. Shame because from those I’ve talked with would love to see each nightly episode featuring two new missing cases each eve with no carry over, unless real breaking news exists. This could then be announced in a brief comment prior to commercial interruptions. Course, I’m neither an executive producer nor Nancy Grace’s producer so I will leave well enough said. On a positive note, Nancy does have a great blog online that various cases and missing loved ones are portrayed. There have been a time or two in which I’ve seen some of our LostNMissing loved ones’ banners posted and I welcome her staff to utilize any and as many as they like at any time. Banners are not copyright and all we ask is that they are kept intact as designed when posted.
Jane’s show, which I find has a more variety of topics, along with entire teams of professionals who voice their opinions and present updated facts to a case, is also extremely difficult to reach as producers schedule either far in advance or very near or immediate to whatever has happened the day before. It’s unfortunate as I feel her show is probably one of the most ideal to have a variety of missing loved ones portrayed. I invite Jane’s show to go through our website and feel free to pick and choose as many missing loved one’s banners and flash on the screen before or after the show anytime.
Oh Oprah! I don’t know what to say other than its hard to explain to family members of missing loved ones that it is nearly impossible to reach Oprah or any of her producers. Believe me, I’ve tried. I think as a non runner I could win the Boston Marathon before I could achieve having a missing loved one portrayed on Oprah’s show. It doesn’t matter that I personally beat Oprah, by one place, on the Ms. Twitterworld Contest. I came in 16th and she in 17th place. Even though she has over a million followers, to my 4300, you can bet I celebrated…a little anyhow. Did I really beat out Oprah on Twitter? I doubt it. For one, Oprah is so spread out far and wide with her many ventures that I really wonder if it’s Oprah tweeting anyhow. It’s my guess that one of her hundreds of “assistants” represents her. Or could it be that she was just “too kind” to tweet her followers to vote for her? Let the “little guy” win. Either way it doesn’t matter as it was merely a silly contest.
What does matter is what are the true criteria that I can tell crying parents, in emotional turmoil, as to why nationally syndicated shows would rather use valuable airtime listing all the mistresses of Tiger Woods and Jessie James as opposed to listing even a handful of missing loved ones? Yes, even adults who are missing have distraught and grieving parents who beg for any airtime possible for their missing child. Ask the parents of Jeramy Carl Burt, Brian Sullivan’s mom, or the family of missing Beverly Meadows. They would give anything to have their loved ones portrayed. Or the grandmother of 15 year old Peyton Borden, a young black male who bolted from an Illinois courthouse in the fall of 2009 after learning that he would have to go back and live with his father in Georgia, instead of residing with his maternal grandmother since his own mom was killed in a car accident when Peyton was only 8 years old, only to never be seen again! Perhaps talking with the family of Thomas and Jimmy Zinza would be ideal. Two brothers, both missing years apart. Yes, you read that correctly. Jimmy went missing in 1992 and could be living on the streets anywhere in the US and a nationally syndicated show could literally bring about recognition. Thomas went missing, under strange circumstances from a hotel room in PA while traveling on business from Hawaii in 2008. Imagine the turmoil their family endures, it’s incomprehensible.
I will close this with a challenge. Which nationally syndicated show will make contact with LostNMissing to offer to portray one of the many missing loved ones that we represent who has never received their much needed national airtime? Will it be Oprah? Nancy Grace? Or the Jane Valez Mitchell show? Stay tuned as I will update in my next report. My phone line is open.
Cynthia L. Caron