(Posted 28 Jan 2007)
According to a January 23rd Prince George's County Police Department news release, Seria Robertson, 20, of Washington, DC, was beaten to death behind a dumpster in Oxon Hill shortly before midnight on January 22. Police arrested her boyfriend, Edwin Keith Harris, 21, also of Washington, DC, at the scene and charged him with first degree murder.
Apparently nobody cares! The murder of another woman in Prince George's County was not newsworthy enough to rate even a brief mention by our local press and broadcast media. Nor was the fact that our police promptly made an arrest.
I searched the paper and online version of the Post, which reports most but not all county murders, and could not find a report of the murder. I wrote to the Post's ombudsman--she replied that she could not find a Post report either. I sent a copy of my report of the killing to the Post's newly assigned Prince George's crime reporter--no response, no report.
I searched two paper versions and the online version of the Gazette, which also reports most but not all county murders, and could not find a report of the murder. I sent a copy of my report of the killing to the Gazette's Prince George's editor--no response, no report.
I searched the paper and online versions of the Times, which only rarely reports on crime in Prince George's County, and could not find a report.
I searched the online version of the Examiner, which almost never reports on crime in Prince George's County, and could not find a report. I did not search the paper edition since the area where I live has been redlined by the Examiner and it is all but impossible for me to find a paper copy.
I used the search engine at each of the local broadcast media web sites that claim to carry news (WRC-4, WTTG-5, WJLA-7, WUSA-9, and WTOP Radio) and did not find a single report of the killing.
Has deadly violence against women become so commonplace that it is no longer worth reporting?
Is a simple beating death infinitely less newsworthy than some of the recent attempted murders that received substantial coverage--Yvette Cade, for example?
Would this murder have been reported if it had taken place in another jursdiction?
Whatever the reason the media had for ignoring this murder, you should understand that if you see fewer murders reported by the media, you should not automatically assume that the homicide rate is dropping. In fact, our homicide rate is currently running slightly ahead of last year.