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10 years Passed, Jonbenet Ramsey still Newsworthy

In the historical perspective, there are many crime stories that are newsworthy, because they contain four similar characteristics. In chapter seven, Stephens explains if a woman or a child is a victim or suspect, if a highborn or well-known person is the victim or suspect, if there is some doubt about the guilt of the suspect, and if there is imtimation of promiscuous behavior by the victim or suspect is apparent, the case is newsworthy. In such cases, "Murderers and their victims surrender all right to privacy" as claimed by Stephens.
Stephens names several cases in the past that carry three out of the four characteristics including the Lindbergh kidnapping in 1932, the Manson murders in 1969, the Patty Hearst kidnapping in 1974, and the murder of O.J. Simpson's former wife. Each of these crimes has made history and is even documented in books that are still discussed today. One of the most recent cases involve the murder of Jonbenet Ramsey in 1996. The six year old girl was found dead in her basement the day after Christmas. She came from a prominent family and a wealthy home life. Her father was a successful business man and her mother was former Miss West Virginia in 1977. After the young girl was found by her father, the autopsy tests show she had been sexually assaulted. Jonbenet Ramsey's entire family, mother, father, and older brother have been accused of the murder.
Not one person has been found guilty of the crime; however there have been plenty of suspects and all have had evidence doubting the accusations. The Jonbenet Ramsey case has yet to age or be forgotten. The prominence in the family as well as the unidentified suspect has left the case for continual newsworthiness. Over the past 11 years, there have been "clues" and "breakthroughs" containing more information about the case. These advances have yet to name a murderer though and the Ramsey family will continue to claim fame in the news.
The unsolved mystery of Jonbenet's murderer provides an "on the edge" suspense that will leave the family in the spotlight until the murder is identified. In June of 2006, ten years after the girl's murder, Patsy Ramsey, Jonbenet's mother died of Ovarian cancer once again spotlighting the family. Then two months later, John Mark Karr came forward in August claiming to have murdered Jonbenet.
Each of these supposed "breakthroughs" ultimately led to a dead end. The family is still without a suspect and will continue being bombarded by the media. If there is a "who," the world wants to know about it, and it is important for Journalists to provide their readers' wants.
Jonbenet Ramsey is not the only victim in the murder case, the entire family is. They are victims who have had their privacy surrendered casting a permanent spotlight on their every move. Every major occurrence after Jonbenet's murder has made national news. Patsy Ramsey's loss to cancer attracted newspapers all over the country, broadcast media, and magazines. The time of Patsy's death was not just a family mourning; it was an entire nation's mourning and sorrow for a family who still hasn't found justice for their daughter.
This case will be in the news until the last member of the immediate Ramsey family passes on. Even after that, history will continue to tell the unfortunate tale of the Ramsey family. Their lives are no longer private, and the Ramsey's will remain famous for unfortunate circumstances.


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A good analysis of a recent (ongoing) story in light of historical cases that fit a similar bill. If Jonbenet Ramsey had not been a budding beauty pageant queen, so that many professional-quality headshots and competition shots were available to news sources, the story would likely not have attracted so much attention. There were plenty of other children who went missing during the time the media was covering the Ramsey family's plight, but the very strange circumstances (e.g. the father finding the body in the basement after police had searched the house), combined with the photogenic images of the victim, gave this story far more attention than most of the other missing children stories. (I think The Onion even had a mock story about a plain, not especially cute little girl who was missing, and the fake story emphasized how nobody really cared about that crime.)

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