A little over a year ago, then eighteen month old Amir Jennings went missing in South Carolina. While there was a great deal of local coverage, the story of his disappearance never hit the national media hot button like Caylee Anthony's did. There are a number of theories as to why that was and still is. Most of them have to do with race and gender. Apparently the national media decided the public just isn't as interested in missing cute young black boys as they are in missing cute young white girls.
This blog posted about his disappearance and his mother's subsequent trial back in September. Since then the breaking news is that there is no breaking news. In fact the entire gruesome mystery has dropped completely out of sight, much like the Oklahoma City death of Alina Fitzpatrick has. Only family and friends remain concerned, heart sick, and desperately pressing for answers.
The last time anyone saw Amir Jennings it was the 23rd of November, 2011. A time line furnished by WBTV in Charlotte, N.C. reports that in early December of that year family members began to confront Amir's mother, Zinah about his location and safety. Dear old mom took it on the lam and on December 18th her mother, Amir's grandmother, reported both of them missing to police. On Christmas Eve of 2011 Zinah Jennings was involved in a car wreck and picked up by the cops. At first she denied she even had a child, then she said he was with friends in Georgia. Just to cover all her bases she then told authorities he was actually with friends in North Carolina. Finally, in a spasm of intense maternal concern, she told police that her son had disappeared and it was up to them to find him. The only thing the police did find was a blanket in the trunk of her car with blood on it. It eventually turned out to belong to Amir.
Cadaver dogs were called in, but an extensive search of an eight mile radius around the Jennings home turned up nothing, despite one relative recalling seeing Zinah with a shovel in the back yard after her child had dropped off the face of the planet. A $10,000 reward for information yielded none. By the end of January of this year Zinah Jennings was charged with "unlawful conduct toward a child." Her lawyer claimed she was mentally ill and "lacked sufficient insight, or capacity to make responsible decisions." Another relative claimed she displayed symptoms of schizophrenia. Whatever the case, when the trial was over she got ten years of hard time. To this day she refuses to say where her son is. Her mother has speculated that she might have given him away, or sold him. Tragically, those are the most optimistic scenarios available.
A quick glance at Google shows about nineteen pages of posts and stories about Amir before they peter out and morph into other things. Almost all of the stories come from the Columbia, South Carolina media. There are a few other articles from other nearby outlets, but in truth the big boys, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, and NBC have very little, if anything, to say about the disappearance or his mother's trial. It would seem little Amir is just another lost soul in a world too chock full of lost souls. The outrage and scrutiny that followed Caylee Anthony's case simply did not exist.
The suspicion here is that it didn't have to be that way. That if some producer, or reporter at any of the national news organizations would have pushed hard for extensive coverage of Amir's disappearance the public would have been all over it.
You hear about FOX being the red network and MSNBC being the blue network and such and such. That is all fine. When it comes to politics any more I just assume I'm getting a biased review of what is happening. What is truly bothersome is that the national media decides what we will know and how much we will know about it. Amir Jennings' disappearance had nothing to do with politics, it is just that some wankers in three or four editorial board rooms decided he wasn't important enough to warrant our attention.
If you want to find the true threat to an informed public, you don't have to rage about slanted politics, or government censorship. All you have to do is think of Amir Jennings. If a dangerously few people in this country don't believe we need to know about something, no matter what it is, then we won't. The lives and deaths of human beings will fall through the cracks That is the power of the press in the early 21st century. It isn't a comforting thought, but few of us will dwell on it. The rest of us won't because we haven't been told to do so by some news anchor. Stories which focus on minority kids obviously don't sell advertising time. The brutal truth is if some cretin who has a mind focused on nothing more than the bottom line decides Amir Jennings' story can't sell ads, then screw the kid--let's talk about something else.
Such is the attitude and soul of what we can call the new journalism.
sic vita est