An image from Channel 7's coverage of a shooting yesterday.
An image from Channel 7's coverage of a shooting yesterday.

Does Denver media care more when white people are shot?

Yesterday's Denver-based TV newscasts were top-heavy with packages about a failed murder-suicide involving Randall Waggoner, 38, and Christina Waggoner, 35, both of Highlands Ranch -- and this morning, the reports remain high on the list of local stories accessible at the web homes of Channel 7 and Channel 9, among other outlets. Indeed, the tale got more coverage than most of the 23 Denver-area murders collected in a Tuesday blog even though neither of the Waggoners are dead; the latest updates say they remain in critical condition.

Why? The circumstances were certainly unusual: the shootings took place during the day on highly traveled West Mineral Avenue, causing traffic problems for hours. But other factors make it stand out, too -- namely, that the Waggoners are white, unlike nineteen of the 23 Denver homicide victims noted above, and they live in the sort of affluent area that's uncommon among most of those murdered in Denver thus far in 2009. Maybe it's sheer coincidence that folks like these tend to capture the press's attention to a greater degree than, say, an underemployed Hispanic man killed in a bar fight. But it's naive to pretend that such elements don't come into play, consciously or not.

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