Stepha Henry is still missing. But since yesterday, Google News has indexed just three stories that mention the 22-year-old black New Yorker who disappeared two weeks ago in Miami.
During the same period, the site found 525 stories that mentioned Kelsey Smith, the white girl who was kidnapped and killed in Kansas, and 6,581 news stories that mentioned “Paris Hilton,” the celebrity who is famous for being famous. (Even Natalee Holloway, the Alabama girl who went missing in Aruba two years ago, earned more mentions than Henry.)
WABC-TV, one of the few news outlets that appears to be covering the case, reports that Henry’s parents have traveled to Florida in search of their daughter. “Stepha, I love you very much, and you know I need you home,” Sylvia Henry tells the ABC affiliate. “And I would like you to please, if you could even talk, wherever you are, tell someone to call your mother or call someone and we’ll come get you.”
Detectives in Miami-Dade say she was last seen inside a night club, and telephone records indicate that she last checked her voicemail at 4:13 a.m. on May 29. They are looking for a man in a black car who may have come in contact with Henry around the time she was last seen.
As we reported last week, MSNBC canceled segments on the Henry case in favor of wall-to-wall coverage of the Hilton saga that was then unfolding in Hollywood.
This raises an age-old question: Why do some people get more coverage than others? John Ridley thinks he knows the answer: “We’ve gotta tread carefully here because race is not a factor in the cases of these women gone missing. But race clearly is a factor to the media and in regard to the news they chose to report.”
More on the cancellations on the Miami Herald’s crime blog, dateline June 8. The reporter is David Ovalle:
I’m livid. I agreed to conduct a last-minute interview with MSNBC about the case of missing Stepha Henry, the 22-year-old college grad who went missing May 29 from Miami-Dade. I rushed to MSNBC’s studio but a few minutes before the interview, I was told that it was off — Paris Hilton coverage was more important.
Turns out, I’m not the only one. Miami-Dade police lead spokeswoman Linda O’Brien was canceled by MSNBC the hour before me. She tells me:
“I am upset because MSNBC called me and asked me to go to their studio in Broward County, 30 miles away from my office. I was there for a total of 45 minutes, was already seated and had the mic ready for the interview. As I waiting to be interviewed, I was listening to the Paris Hilton coverage to include discussion to the effect if anybody had seen or knew the whereabouts of her Chihuahua.
“Then they tell me they have to cut the piece, cut my interview because they’re doing constant coverage of Paris Hilton. I’m appalled that a missing woman cannot get even 60 seconds of air time because the priorities of MSNBC was to have footage of the front gates of Paris Hilton’s house. They asked me to come to the interview and I’m going out of my way to do every interview to keep in the public eye that Stepha Henry, a bright beautiful woman, is missing and we need help in this case.”
I’m through with cable TV news. It’s a joke.
America’s Most Wanted has also picked up the story, and their profile of Stepha is here.