There is rapidly evolving the realization that haphazard accusations and media flashes and alerts have as much value in determining the solution to a crime as a dart board with random suspects. Getting viewers to tune in “for the latest” and then seeing nothing of substance is a way for the little boy to cry wolf and eventually turn off viewers which will dismiss this sensationalism as just more of the same. You will notice this approach produces sitcoms and series that die from repetition. It will also kill an investigation. Much like the executive that centers his career on short term results and fails when he is faced with long term consequences from a limited vision, so too the media moguls have programed themselves to fight for moments of attention instead of providing a recognition that some stories are not conducive to this approach.
We return to the Natalee Holloway case and how this media frenzy for attention getting tidbits has left us with a missing person and a lot of disconnected dots. It is normal for a person to want their missing offspring to have awareness in the hope that the more people that know about the missing person, the more likely there will be someone who will know something and come forward. With a $250,000 reward and the attention that has been broadcast, it cries out for an explanation why there isn’t a soul that knows anything about anyone that might have been involved that has told what he knows. If a carrot doesn’t work ,you can be pretty much assured there is a stick that is overriding the temptation . In this case whoever knows something also knows there are those that can punish those who step forward and/or their families or loved ones. This hokum about a rigorous methodology coupled with a legal system of requirements that keeps everything secret and occasionally pops up with a revelation, smacks of deception, delay and pandering. I’ve been told the crime rate in Holland is much lower than in the U.S. With such a system of justice that plays catch and release and exposes nothing for scrutiny , is it any wonder?
This facade of an investigation is going at it all wrong. The governments involved and the American media are not looking at the information they have and they are misleading the persons most concerned with finding Natalee down a primrose path that may appear to be supportive and as effective as could be expected, but they overlook two important factors. First they are not compiling the information to formulate possible solutions and secondly they are not getting any results which is a sure way to lose the public interest. There is a propensity for the media hounds to snoop and pry for new findings without thoroughly digesting what things have been discovered and how they fit together. This has been the direction given them and their obvious motive of seeking an attentive audience. What this approach has accomplished is the objective of them keeping their job, but it hasn’t produced a significant lead to finding Natalee. When you keep doing the same thing and the results keep coming up the same, a reasonable person will consider whether another path might be appropriate. Driven by ratings and viewers attention the goal of truth has been overshadowed and diminished. The search for truth in the search for Natalee needs to override commercial concerns if answers are to be found. When the answers are found ( which they won’t be by this randomized scoop method ), then it will be time to analyze what it took to get to the bottom of this mystery. It’s funny that the media has never considered an analysis prior to the solution as an appropriate venue to accomplish a solution and at the same time have a lot of viewer’s attention. This is either because they don’t know how to analyze a mystery or they’re afraid it would be too risky as it would not be their familiar pattern of short flashes of comment and conjecture.
This could be done and it could provide not only an interesting series, but it could also be an alternative that opens up a lot of unconsidered possibilities. It could have audience participation and it could capture the information and many creative minds to consider ideas that haven’t been pursued because they did not fit the mold of the current day approach. It would be a wake up for the media that too long has thought it was the voice of the people and it knows what they want because they have done extensive polls. Did any poll ever ask if night after night of the same old rehash by the same old talking heads was preferable to actually conducting a mock investigation centered around compiling and digesting information? I doubt it.
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Let’s suppose there was a program each week when a major disappearance or crime appeared to be unsolvable. Each week would bring experts and interested parties to posit their theories and concerns with the objective of compiling all avenues of approach to the investigation. Each week the previous week’s findings would be reviewed and a list of concerns would be documented for the audience and anyone interested to review and tie together all the known facts. Theories could be presented and critiqued for consistency and those that contradicted known facts would be discarded. Finally a theory that explained the known facts with the least amount of credible assumptions would be pursued for verification. This would narrow the search after sifting out the irrelevant. This would also allow for anonymity from those who have information but cannot get it visible without recrimination. Now this may not have the hype of a “news alert” that can be viewed and discarded as momentary revelation but it should lead to a solid analysis of the facts and a solution. This type of program would not be geared to the instant flashes of bit and pieces of information bounced on the screen to attract attention but a deliberate results oriented process designed to consider all of the known facts together instead of random shots at what might or might not be relevant. Obviously this would not appeal to everyone but it would certainly be more satisfying to the people that want answers and progress instead of pot shots leading nowhere.
Reality shows came into vogue because the video writers weren’t coming up with enough interesting material to attract audiences. This is what drives the industry i.e finding what it is the viewers want to see. Now the antics of ordinary people placed in extraordinary conditions is fading. Getting a long term interesting run should be the goal of the networks and one that brings amateur sleuths together to solve a real life crime might just be the approach that will serve both the interests of the media and the crime victims. Bringing volunteer resources together to solve a crime motivated by their curiosity and passion would certainly get a lot of people involved in searching , theorizing and collaborating if it could be done via a process that could be commonly be agreed to. This is possible. If it materializes it may even discourage a crime or two. For no fox will rob a hen house where the dogs are in such huge numbers hungry for a chase. This would constitute a collaborative effort along with such programs as “America’s Most Wanted”. It would be more focused on one case offering a more in depth analysis. Otherwise we don’t have much to look forward to except more of the same which is not producing results. The contrast of the two methods is clear and with time so will be the lack of results from the current avenue of pursuit. Maybe a more vigorous search for the “new” instead of the “news’ would get this ball rolling.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and are not not necessarily either shared or endorsed by iPatriot.com.