Q&A Friday #47: Why Are People Fascinated With The JonBenet Ramsey Case?

Question: “Can you tell my “why” little JBR’s murder case is such “great television?” Aren’t there murders that occur every day in this country that don’t get this coverage?

So can you tell my why the media picked up on and keeps running with this story?” — HM_Phobe

Answer: Well, obviously there is an enormous number of murders, kidnappings, and disappearances that happen every year, but very few that catch and hold the attention of the public.

In general, when you combine attractive people with strange circumstances and/or big names, then the potential is there for the story to get really big (See Nicole Simpson, Elizabeth Smart, Natalee Holloway, Chandra Levy, Laci Peterson, Bonny Lee Bakley)

In this case, there were definitely some hooks to catch the public interest:

1) JonBenet was a cute kid.

There were also lots of strange circumstances:

2) The whole child beauty pageant thing struck people as weird.
3) JonBenet was killed in her own home.
4) There was an odd ransom note.
5) Everyone suspected that the parents were involved, but it couldn’t be proven.

Maybe it’s not fair that people are fascinated with this case and don’t care about hundreds of other similar cases that don’t make for compelling Cable TV, but unfortunately, that’s just how it goes.

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