January 19, 2020

By ANDREW SOULSBY

In our society, beauty and youth are held in the highest regard. For women, this is especially true.

They are constantly bombarded with ads on TV urging them to look younger by pushing expensive facial products on them. They’re told they can only please men if they’re young and hot like the models who pose on magazine covers at grocery store checkout lanes.

As many of you know, March began with Tori Stafford’s trial. The blond-haired, blue-eyed eight-year-old was kidnapped and killed one year ago.

However, I believe not nearly as many of you will know of the Nadia Gehl trial. The 28-year-old, slightly overweight brunette was shot twice as she walked to a bus stop near her house in Kitchener three years ago.

These murder trials have had their gruesome details dramatically told by the journalists who cover them. In Stafford’s case, the media attention has been national, with the Globe and Mail providing their coverage of the trial, while Gehl’s trial has seen only local coverage.

In first-year journalism, we learned about the criteria which makes a story newsworthy. Some of these include timeliness, significance, proximity, prominence and human interest. If we were to measure the Stafford and Gehl stories by each of these criteria, they would be nearly identical.

However, there is one exception. Human interest stories are unique in that they often disregard the standard rules of newsworthiness. This is due to how they date slower than other stories, need not affect a large group of people and the location of the story can be anywhere.

With human interest in mind, we can see how Stafford’s trial has become a national story, however, in the same light we should also see how it’s wrong.

With the publication of this story, our national media has decided what should interest us and what doesn’t. However, I’d like to believe everyone agrees that a life’s value cannot be measured against another based upon age and physical appearances alone.

In fact, they shouldn’t enter into the equation at all.

With that being said, we should all take a minute to think about why we’re reading a story about the murder of an eight-year-old Woodstock girl with blond hair and blue eyes and basically ignoring a story about the murder of a 28-year-old Kitchener woman with brown hair and eyes.