How many white women can go missing in one news cycle?

Via Romenesko, a set of stories highlighting the common thread in the most sensationalized missing persons reports of the last few years: white women seem to be vanishing left and right. The recent runaway bride ridiculousness is the point of departure, and the stories Romenesko links to point out that this sort of soap opera stuff happens to everyone, not to mention actual kidnappings, rapes, murders, domestic violence, disappearances.

This is the sort of thing I was talking about a few days ago regarding the Pat Tillman case: Does the media play up his story as much if he’s a black offensive lineman?

I don’t think so.

Some of this can be attributed to the sort of Media Monopoly problems we’ve talked about in class this semester – the idea that your news organization needs to reach the greatest number of affluent product consumers in order to deliver them to advertisers, and this usually results in playing to the suburbs, ignoring the inner city, and giving a (still-dominant in most parts of this country) white upper-middle class what they want.

How do we choose our heroes? Our villains? Our victims?