Are You Press Worthy?
Columbia Journalism Review
Over the last 60 years, the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) has established itself as one of the world’s most respected voices on press criticism. “Are You Press Worthy?” aimed to strike a nerve by bringing measured, personal context to the inequality in missing persons reporting.
Black people account for over 40% of missing person cases in the US., and White women account for less than one third. Despite this, White women account for over half of missing persons news coverage. This inequality in reporting not only exposes enduring biases in journalism, but also directly harms the missing persons’ chances of being found.
Columbia Journalism Review wanted to call on media publications to pledge to improve their reporting practices for future underrepresented missing person cases.
In the months before their campaign launched, the case of missing woman Gabby Petito reinvigorated a nationwide conversation around racial biases in missing persons reporting, a failing often termed “Missing White Woman Syndrome”. CJR’s campaign tapped into this conversation by quantifying the imbalance itself.
Working alongside TBWA\Chiat\Day NY, CJR developed a unique tool allowing people to calculate their press value if they were to go missing, based on current reporting data in America.
Areyoupressworthy.com allows users to publicly share their press value for the world to see. In most cases, the results show vast disparities on how a person would be covered if they went missing, depending on their race, gender, and where they live.
“Are You Pressworthy?” received more than 1 billion PR impressions and was covered by over 850 global news outlets, including NBC News, Forbes, USA Today and ABC News. Over 220,000 people have calculated their personalized press value, with over 7,000 sharing their results on their social channels in the first few days alone. Hundreds of journalists engaged with the campaign on Twitter, and some news outlets have begun to reassess their reporting standards around missing people of color.