Cleveland Plain Dealer blasts BBC for claiming missing girls coverage was racist

Tara McKelvey (below) wrote in a Thursday BBC News piece (“Cleveland abductions: Do whites gets more attention?”)tara that in the 10 years Amanda Berry was missing, the Plain Dealer published 36 articles about the white girl. The report claimed the Cleveland paper, over nine years, ran 19 articles about Gina DeJesus, who is Hispanic.

But the Plain Dealer says those numbers are wrong and that “the number of stories about DeJesus actually is greater than the number mentioning Berry.”

Here’s the letter that Plain Dealer assistant managing editor/metro Chris Quinn sent to the BBC:

Because your network saw fit to brand as racist The Plain Dealer’s coverage of the Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus cases, based on an analysis so simplistic we would have thought it beneath an organization such as yours, we are sending you the following information based on a much more thorough review. Please pass it along to whomever is responsible for the posted report so that they can more accurately present the situation.

Chris Quinn

Chris Quinn

As you will see, the number of stories about DeJesus actually is greater than the number mentioning Berry, contrary what you assert. Your analysis did not include all variations of the DeJesus first name, a rather glaring lapse.

Because of the racial aspect your network chose to focus on, we also included in our review stories about Shakira Johnson, a black child who went missing around the same time as Amanda and Gina. The hunt for Shakira was as big a community effort as the hunt for the other missing girls.

Stories mentioning Shakira Johnson and not Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry: 145
Stories mentioning only Gina DeJesus (or Georgina DeJesus): 24
Stories mentioning only Amanda Berry: 17
Stories mentioning Berry and DeJesus together: 8
Stories mentioning Berry, DeJesus and Johnson: 6
Stories mentioning DeJesus and Johnson together: 2

And, in further response to your theme that The Plain Dealer under-reported stories about missing minority women, I again suggest you look at our stories in the aftermath of the Anthony Sowell serial killing, which have won awards over the past five years for the breadth of coverage.

The suggestion that this newspaper has used race as any kind of filter in its story choices is offensive in the extreme. We’re shocked that such a poorly reported story could be posted by a network with your reputation.


Chris Quinn
Assistant Managing Editor/Metro
The Plain Dealer