Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Power of 1980s-1990s TV

I cover a lot of mysteries on my blog. Missing people, unsolved murders, some more missing people... Some have been solved, but many more never will be.



The older a case is, the less likely it is to be solved. This is especially true if you didn't grab the world's attention like Madeleine McCann:



Or captivate the nation like Natalee Holloway



Over time, a missing persons case drops out of the news, sadly. New cases come along, grabbing media attention, and eventually people forget. Additionally, today's cases can't possibly get enough attention due to something called narrowcasting. Narrowcasting basically means this:



It was something we studied in broadcasting in 1990. Instead of three channels, like people had in the "old days," we'd already gone to more than 100. We knew even then that the future would bring even more channels. We discussed the possibility that someday people could just watch whatever they wanted, whenever we wanted. And no, we had NO idea something called the internet would bring that!



Today if someone disappears, the message can be distributed through a variety of sources. TV news, radio, newspapers, online publications, personal Facebook feeds, Facebook groups, online forums, podcasts, YouTube videos... The list goes on. Unfortunately, each of those methods only reaches a small segment of the market.



Nothing makes that clearer than watching old episodes of Unsolved Mysteries on Amazon Prime. Other than the bad 80s/90s hairstyles, the one thing that is most glaringly obvious is that when cases showed up on Unsolved Mysteries, chances were they were going to be solved.



If a missing person or criminal on the run was still alive, someone, somewhere was going to call that hotline and report the person. Why? Although Unsolved Mysteries was not the top-rated show of its time, it still had more viewers than today's number one shows. More people were watching...mostly because we didn't have that much else to do if we were home.



Today we have Amber Alerts, which let us know when a child is in immediate danger. But what about cold cases? Who's getting the word out about Bryce Laspisa, who disappeared from his overturned truck in 2013?



Or Leah Roberts, who disappeared while traveling in 2000?



There are so many cases like these. Too many to count. Thousands upon thousands of faces, leaving behind grieving family members. If we had a show with the reach Unsolved Mysteries or America's Most Wanted had back in the 80s, would we see more of this?



What cold case would you like to see solved?

27 comments:

  1. Three networks, PBS, and a channel or two on UHF if we were lucky before cable came along.
    You have a good point and it applies to a lot more than just unsolved cases. Think of what we have to do to market a book - too many social networks, too many websites. Are readers are so spread out online, how do we reach even half?

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    1. I think you've summed up the issue every business owner faces, too! Promotion isn't what it once was...but at one time, you had to pay a huge sum of money to get an ad on TV. Now you can promote things for free. I guess we all have to build our networks, but that takes time and multiple books.

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  2. Too many to count. I wish they could all be solved! I suppose "Jack the Ripper" and "The Black Dahlia" would be my choice of really cold cases I'd like to see solved. I've always found both of these cases interesting. There are a lot of theories surrounding both cases, but there's not much of a chance they will ever be solved.

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    1. They're SO cold, I doubt it. There was a recent 48 Hours or Dateline about the Black Dahlia...they had pretty good facts to back up that it might have been a certain person, but I can't remember who it was!

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  3. YES! I love unsolved mysteries. Although the show in the 80s always creeped me out..the music and it came on at like midnight haha.

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    1. It is creepy at times. And Robert Stack adds to that creep factor!

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  4. I was a big of of Unsolved Mysteries, and I remember most people watched it. Not many people I know these days watch much TV at all. And with DVRs, even fewer are watching it live.

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    1. Most people seem to stream Netflix or Amazon Prime these days. There are shows I have never watched solely because I can't watch from Episode 1. Most of them are on CBS...CBS won't even give you all the episodes if you pay them a monthly fee for their site. Annoying.

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  5. Again, more cases I never knew about. Of course, I knew about Natalee Holloway. And while she and the runaway bride, Jennifer Willbanks, made headlines, some newspapers mentioned some missing women when whose cases weren't as high-profiled. Both women in question were African Americans, causing some people to speculate that the media to think that only the white women matter.

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    1. "Missing White Woman Syndrome" is definitely alive and well, even though people like to throw out cases like Elisa Lam to say it doesn't exist anymore. Elisa's case gained traction online. So the media still discriminates.

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  6. It is difficult. I can't imagine being in the position of losing a loved one and knowing despite all our technology, there is no good way to get the word out. When i get an Amber Alert, I pay attention, keep an eye open for the vehicle, just to try to do my part. But, how often does that succeed?

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  7. I used to watch Unsolved Mysteries. You're right- there weren't that many options available.

    But maybe Amber alerts are better than the old way. They say the first few hours are the most critical and with everyone carrying cell phones, hopefully it's helping.

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  8. Good for you, Steph, for continuing to get the word out for the unsolved cases. It's so important.

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  9. Wow! I never thought of it that way. I'm very selective as to what I watch. It may seem weird but I avoid the news like the plague. To me they are so busy trying to stand in the spotlight that they avoid the facts. And I get better info from social media.

    Maybe they should be reaching out that way instead. Imagine the mass of people with their peepers wide open looking for the lost.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  10. The same is true about the book industry--there are so many more channels or avenues than before that much gets lost in the hubbub of voices.

    Truth, I can't even stand to watch the news, so even the big cases in my local area are missed. It's a different world and a different time. I wish I had a solution for this issue. There is no "one source" of information.

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  11. Thanks for sharing this important post, Stephanie. You make an important point. Progress does not always mean advancement in all areas. There needs to be a better solution for solving cold cases.

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  12. This is so true and I believe part of the problem is the attention span of people, in general, have lessened even further than back in the 1980's and '90's. Everyone licks things off too fast and don't give programs a chance to grab their attention. I also believe younger people seem to be be somewhat desensitized to these cases which is a shame. The very old case of William Desmond Taylor is one I would love to have it finally solved. He was a big director in his time and he was murdered. Big female stars were implicated but nothing was solved. It is leaning to a certain mother but nothing has been verified. A newer case would be little Jon Bonet Ramsey who I believe knew the killer and so did the parents but they decided to protect the killer.

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  13. It's a shame that with more channels less is really done when it comes to solving old cold cases. As we advance, we still lose.

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  14. I love that we have alerts now. Sending messages to everyone's phones does spread the news much faster and wider. Hopefully it helps.

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  15. The case that I remember most, and thankfully it was solved well, was the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping. I lived nearby at the time and it really freaked me out. Thankfully she was found okay, but there are so many more that just aren't and it's terribly sad.

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  16. I ironically, I worked at cable companies when they first came around, and after 20+ years saw lots of things happen, which is a story in itself. Sadly, there are so many missing people, and like you said, in time they are forgotten. It would be great to have a show dedicated to all those cold cases, or those who never made the news to get new clues. Great topic! Hugs...

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  17. So thankful for Amber Alerts!

    You have a great day. I'm sure you're busy, busy, busy.

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  18. How about a show about the 1100 or so unsolved cases of missing or murdered indigenous women in Canada? You could profile 5 cases a week, 22 episodes a season and run for ten years! The police and the government haven't done much to deal with them, so maybe some of that TV exposure might help...

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  19. I think it would be nice if they were all solved and a show might help. Since crime shows are so popular, maybe a true crime show would help us all get more resolution.

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  20. Good point. What venue does get the most attention these days? A tweet from Trump?

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  21. Or Amelia Earhart who disappeared just like that.

    But seriously, it breaks my heart not only for those missing but for their families and friends left clueless and still waiting, searching, grieving.

    Maybe we can dedicate channels or websites for missing people cases.

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  22. I use to watch both these shows faithfully!
    I am so grateful for the Amber alerts these days!

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