More Messages: JonBenet Hits Wall Street

Now that even the Boulder district attorney's office agrees that John Mark Karr's confession in the JonBenet Ramsey case was bogus, media consumers thoroughly tired of the topic are looking forward to a well-deserved respite from coverage of the nearly ten-year-old murder investigation. They shouldn't expect this break to be permanent, though. After all, a sizable slice of the public remains fascinated with this long-dead child, as media gatekeepers understand all too well. Including those at the Wall Street Journal.

Yep, even the Journal, arguably America's most strait-laced major publication, isn't above capitalizing on JonBenet mania, as demonstrated by its August 30 front page. The headline in the upper-left-hand corner, above the banner, reads: "The Unending Saga of JonBenet Ramsey." Beside it is a full-color illustration of the late Ms. Ramsey's most reproduced photo, shown here.

The item the blurb plugs is an opinion piece by Journal editorial board member Dorothy Rabinowitz that's only available online to WSJ website subscribers. Predictably, it's not exactly chock-a-block with insight. Rabinowitz begins by noting how much coverage the Karr matter received despite a slew of other significant stories in the news: the Katrina anniversary, the freeing of two kidnapped Fox journalists in the Middle East, a Kentucky plane crash that killed 49 people. As for her conclusion, she focuses on the reasons John and Patsy Ramsey become prime suspects in the first place. "It is possible no one will ever know who killed JonBenet Ramsey," Rabinowitz writes. "We can know, with certainty, as that case among others has proved, how much legal protection enough money can buy."

Also undebated is the impact JonBenet's image has on newsstand sales. And that's as true on Wall Street as it is on the Pearl Street Mall. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts