It turns on alliteration sharper than a sword, besides plumbing the association of murder most foul with the can-do-goodism of a people’s advertising daily named Craigslist – the internet upstart that has, since 1995, upended the advertising model of the old media; the same media that is now blithely tarring the internet upstart with the “killer” moniker.
What gives? The logic behind the knee-jerk association rarely stands up to reason. Take the most recent case in this saga: The tragic killing of Garret Berki, an 18 year old college student, following a meeting in San Diego at which the student was hoping to buy a MacBook Pro he had seen in the Craigslist classifieds. The meet-up turned into a robbery which ended tragically when the student who had been robbed of $600 and a couple of cell-phones, cornered the perpetrators in a residential cul-de-sac. One of them shot Garrett who died about an hour later from a wound to the chest. A sad, tragic story if ever there was one – but the representation of it across the printed and electronic media raises questions about how old media operatives who should know better have been labeling this story. Coincidence or collusion? You decide.
Google the name “Garrett Berki” and see what comes up. Forget the sensationalist blogs and concentrate on the older media, which includes newspapers and Ancien Régime news agencies like Associated Press. The latter’s connections with more than one news outlet spikes the flow and magnifies the perceptual warp.
- “3 teens held in Calif. Craigslist robbery-killing” Associated Press, May 12, 2011, Miami Herald.
- “Teens plead not guilty in Craigslist killing” Union Tribune, May 13, 2011
- Craigslist killing suspects plead not guilty in the death of LaJolla High grad, LaJolla Patch, May 13, 2011.
- “3 teens charged in Craigslist robbery and killing in San Diego” St. Petersburg Times, (Times Wires) May 14, 2011
- “3 Teens Plead in Craigslist Killing” Michael Gehlen, NBC San Diego May 14, 2011
Now would it have as big and resonant a story if Craigslist had not been implicated by way of thrusting it front and center of this tragedy? Probably not. Had this been San Diego Backpage or eBay Classifieds (formerly Kijiji) or any of the local ad rags, this story would not have had the resonance of the current output bearing the “Craigslist killing” moniker. Is the old media is doing a bit of bottom-feeding here? Are its motives as unimpeachable at they would have been had it they exercised common sense and a smidgeon of journalistic restraint? Can you say tabloidry with a collar and a tie? Can you say knee-jerk jingoism? We can.
The “Craigslist Killer” moniker is arguably the megaphone through which some of these news organizations are trumpeting what would otherwise have been a humdrum robbery-and-murder story for the masses.
The writers and or their editors never stopped to think of other angles that, while not sensationally memorable, may have hewed closer to the nub of the story, namely the interplay of one’s sense of safety versus de rigeur precautions when dealing with strangers who may not have one’s best interests at heart.
Could something beyond Corporate Schadenfreude be going on here. It is difficult to be definitive. Whether this remains sensationalism gone awry, under the table vindictiveness or sheer mental sloppiness (or all of the above) the topic certainly deserves serious discussion in the interest of getting closer to “the truth,” whatever that is.
“Associated Press’ connection with more than one news vendor spikes the flow and magnifies the perceptual warp” (Cyberaxis)
By way of retrospect, the Julissa Brisman murder at the hands of Philip Markoff in April of 2009 was a game-changer for the the San Francisco classifieds upstart, and one that highlighted what Craigslist should have done proactively to address the substantive issues on both sides of the “prostitution, safety and censorship debates.” Craigslist was caught flat-footed both by the tragic event of the Brisman tragedy and the P.R./legal firestorm it unleashed. By the time Craigslist opted under obvious duress to act, it was way too late to address the issue adequately and equitably, hence the incongruities that still remain in the wake of shuttering its “Erotic Services” section – incongruities like Backpage that is still publishing blatant erotic service style ads without the commensurate ire of the George Blumenthals of the world.
In The Beginning Craig Newmark Created ….. Things were much simpler when Craig started his little website in 1995. The community then was a rag-tag collectivity of San Francisco friends, acquaintances and fellow geeks that he cobbled into a social network through a humble e-mail list. The list advertised local events, shindigs and various forms of entertainment. That was long before the e-mail list morphed into a burgeoning website plugging anything from computers to companionship. And that was about a decade and half before a med student named Philip Markoff would instantly be dubbed the Craigslist Killer, for (then) allegedly killing an escort he found through the Boston metro Craigslist. The name stuck like crazy glue while a coterie of lawmen from Massachussetts to South Carolina started circling the San Francisco upstart like famished great whites.” (Cyberaxis, “Philip Markoff, Julissa Brisman and Craig Newmark’s Annus Horribilis” )
copyright© 2011 cyberaxis.wordpress.com
California man arrested in rape of Craigslist maid (Reuters, Yahoo News)
Woman in Edgewood Craigslist Murder to be Sentenced (Kirotv.com, Tacoma, WA)
3 teens held in Calif. Craigslist robbery-killing (Elliot Spagat, Associated Press)