Media criticized over Phila "abduction" story

    Screen capture of NBC's Today Show coverage of the apparent abduction of a Phila area mom and her daughter
    National television's coverage made an abduction claim into a major news story that later turned out to be a hoax

    The story of a Bucks County woman who faked her kidnapping and fled to Disney World in Florida garnered national headlines, even before it was revealed to be a hoax.   Some media observers are criticizing the coverage the case has gotten.

    The reports of Bonnie Sweeten’s frantic 911 call, saying she’d been kidnapped along with her nine year old daughter, received widespread local and national coverage.

    Kelly McBride is a Media Ethics Group Leader with the Poynter Institute for Journalism.  She says the story had one key element for news network interest.

    McBride: You have a victim that cable news believes will resonate with a large number of people, so a child is usually a good victim in that sense.”

    McBride says the media should have treated Sweeten’s false claim to have been abducted by two black men with more skepticism, because of the potential harm such reporting can cause to black communities.

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