It is no secret that major news outlets have been under scrutiny for coverage as it pertains to race. For years they have been criticized for mainly focusing on the disappearances of white women versus the countless black and brown people who go missing daily. However, recently the cases of Jelani Day and Gabby Petito have been drawing comparisons due to the stark difference in media coverage. Petito has received prime visibility in the media while Day’s family struggled to get any help spotlighting his disappearance. It was so bad that during new coverage for Day, the outlet displayed a picture of Petito. Jelani’s mother sat down with Tamron Hall to discuss this.
The heartbreaking conversation took place this week. Titled “Jelani Day’s Mother Says the Media Isn’t Giving His Case the Attention it Deserves,” Carmen Bolden Day discussed with Tamron Hall how difficult it has been to get coverage of her son. Day disappeared under mysterious circumstances a few weeks ago before being found. Since Jelani was found, disparaging reports have been made surrounding his passing.
Tamron kicked off the interview by having a discussion about who Jelani Day was. Carmen Bolden Day told the audience that her son was studying to be a doctor and was the light of her and his sibling’s world. Carmen has five kids total. She recalls how “smart, driven and outspoken” he was. “He was everything to me,” she said through teary eyes. Tamron asked her to recall the struggle of looking for help from the media. “Take me through the process” she asked Carmen. “I didn’t know to call news outlets or newspapers. I have a friend in news broadcasting.” She said the friend recommended she make a video asking for help, and they’d administer it to news outlets. She recalls that “no one cared.”
At one point, she started seeing that they were giving Gabby Petito coverage. Gabby went missing around the same time as Jelani and received an unprecedented amount of news coverage. Hall pointed out that this time of difference in coverage is, unfortunately, more common than it should be. Worst, when some outlets decided to cover Jelani’s story, they did so with Gabby’s image on the screen. They kept the focus strictly on the missing white woman, something Tamron speculates has to do with news outlets trying to focus on white audiences and stories over actually helping people.
Carmen recalls how angry and upset she was and how she kept calling the detectives involved in the case but was not getting any help. Eventually, celebrities like Lizzo began posting Jelani’s story and getting him coverage. Although Jelani’s body was eventually found, the search for answers rages on. His mother suspects foul play and keeps pushing for help and answers because she believes there’s more to the story than what’s been revealed.