Media Descends on Charlottesville, But Why Now?
A murder trial often makes for an interesting story, but the George Huguely murder case is getting attention nationwide. When you ask anybody why, you get a wealth of opinions on the issue.
From the day the crime was committed, it made headlines in Charlottesville, across Virginia and all across the country. The media jumped on the story of the young lacrosse player, from a wealthy family, who police say brutally beat his ex-girlfriend to death.
George Huguely had that athletic lacrosse look. His former girlfriend Yeardley Love was petit, pretty, and well-liked.
"I think, ultimately, it's what sells that leads and whoever's looking at the story and saying this is very titillating, it's interesting to people. We're going to put it on and obviously people are watching," said Rob Schilling, a former Charlottesville city councilman turned talk show host on WINA.
He knows what our website shows - the Huguely story gets the most views by far.
Michelle Ba'th-Bates, the founder and executive director of a community development organization called the Female Perspective explained, "You have a family who has access to a number of different resources which would significantly lead to such a media play,"
She says other factors are at play here too, one is race, and the other is money.
She added, "Unless we have relationships at other levels that will allow access to coverage, we might not have that same attention as this particular case may have, which lends to more of a class issue, with a base of racism at the core."
Schilling agrees stating, "I think that the way that it plays is that when you're putting stories on the media, you're obviously putting things on that are attracting an audience and perhaps there is a much larger audience that happens to be white."
A simple scan of the census in Charlottesville lends credence to the race argument. In the city, 73 percent of the population is white, and only 21 percent is black.
Ba'th-Bates says numbers equal power, and some in the African American community know it.
"I've heard a considerable amount of feedback regarding it, but it borderlines on, you know, this is the norm. I mean this is what's expected as opposed to, well they should have been covering other cases," she said.
For example, the case of Barry Bowles. Bowles admitted to stabbing his wife Rachel 16 times, and a jury found him guilty just before the Huguely case went to court.
The crime happened in Charlottesville, but the national media did not swoop in.
In the end, they both agree, no matter what happens in the Huguely murder trial, or any other, it really only affects the families of the victim and the accused.
Ba'th Bates said, "There's another dynamic that's very critical to what has happened, and that is, does the family want to continue to relive that experience time and time again?"
Schilling added, "This is entertainment. This is news slash entertainment, and I think that in many ways, if there are various communities, whether they be race or class based communities that are not getting this sort of attention for murder trials, they should count it a blessing."