• Spencer Norris

A missing woman and the media circus

Mingqi Ji Elledge went missing about a month ago, and as the story unfolds, the media circus around it is only growing.

I'm struggling a bit with why the media does this kind of story. It's interesting, sure. But I'm also not convinced of the social value in covering it.

True crime has always fascinated me. I rarely watch TV, but I've seen the Jinx, the Staircase, Making a Murderer, Dear Zachary, probably a dozen other series in that wheelhouse. Hell, I even watched American Vandal.

For all the voyeuristic pleasure I get out of ingesting this kind of content, you have to wonder what the journalistic bedrock is. Is anyone getting anything out of this besides satisfying their curiosity?

I suppose the model for values-driven court reporting can be seen in something like Making a Murderer or the Staircase. The end goal in each was to shed light on how the system works. For whatever it's worth, I'm going to try to keep that in mind while covering this case. What can we learn from putting such a sensitive case in the public spotlight?

It's not enough to put out material that others can gawk at. We have a responsibility to provide context and to deliver content that contributes to the public's understanding of the legal system and human nature.

Well, that's my opinion anyways.

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