'Charlton McIlwain, a professor at New York University and the author of Race Appeal: How Candidates Invoke Race in US Political Campaigns, defines the syndrome: "White women occupy a privileged role as violent crime victims in news media reporting."Oddly the same theory does not hold when it comes to racialist murders in London. Compare the BBC's coverage of the murders of Stephen Lawrence and Kriss Donald. Stephen Lawrence was a black 19 year-old youth who was murdered by two white youths in 1993, Kriss Donald was a white 15 year-old boy who was murdered by a gang of men of Pakistani descent in 2004.
In other words, the victim is white and middle class. Ideally, she is saved - by a white guy.
"Our victims are colour-coded," says McIlwain. A proper victim is one who looks like a journalist, he says.
"Research shows that in terms of crime victims, they are people who we view as being like us - like those who are covering the events or reading about them," he says.
"Our national ideal of who is vulnerable - and who holds victim status - are those who are white and female."'
Searching for Stephen Lawrence on the BBC news website reveals the following articles:
All Results (1,532) News (1,359) TV & Radio Programmes (93) Sport (32) TV & Radio Sites (16) Blogs (14) About the BBC (7) Local (archive) (4) Learning (2) Music (1) Elsewhere on the web (4)
Searching for Kriss Donald reveals this somewhat smaller list:
All Results (121) News (119) Blogs (1) TV & Radio Sites (1)
Stephen Lawrence received over twelve times the coverage as Kriss Donald.
I believe that a study of the prominence given to each report would show an even larger discrepancy, as whilst Stephen Lawrence's murder and the subsequent trials of those accused of his murder were headline news and Stephen Lawrence's family have been regular BBC heroic figures, I barely remember the BBC's coverage of the Kriss Donald murder.
So on the BBC do black victims of racially related murder get more attention than white victims?