Anorak News | Madeleine McCann And Shannon Matthews: Mari Luz Cortes And A Middle-Class Media

Madeleine McCann And Shannon Matthews: Mari Luz Cortes And A Middle-Class Media

by | 8th, March 2008

shannon-mccann.jpg MADDYWATCH – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann and Shannon Matthews

DAILY RECORD: “Body In River Is Mari Luz”

Sad news. The picture of a girl. A girl not here.

THE body of a girl found in a river estuary in south-west Spain was identified last night as that of missing Mari Luz Cortes. Five-year-old Mari Luz vanished on January 13 after going to buy sweets from a stall only yards from her front door in Huelva.

The town is near the border with Portugal and less than two hours’ drive from where Madeleine McCann went missing.

Last night Madeleine’s parents Gerry and Kate sent a message of support to Mari Luz’s mother and father, Juan Jose Cortes, 34, a former professional footballer, and Irene Suarez.

Are the cases linked? Spain and Portugal. A body found. A child missing. Are the McCanns now nodding heads with whom the media consult and look to for an easy quote whenever a child goes missing; a child is killed; a child goes missing somewhere in the world?

THE SUN: “Mari Luz Cortes found in river”

The five-year-old’s parents feared she had been snatched like Madeleine McCann when she vanished on January 13. Last night Maddie’s parents Kate and Gerry were “extremely saddened”.

Who cannot be made sad by such grim news? Who in their right mind?

Huelva is less than two hours’ drive from Praia da Luz where Maddie, four, disappeared on holiday in Portugal last May. The McCanns, both 39, of Rothley, Leics, said their “thoughts and prayers” were with parents Juan Jose, 34, and Irene, who had been sure Mari was being held alive.

The McCanns’ spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: “They had developed a sense of unity with Mari Luz’s parents. Both families were going through similar agonies.”

Will the press now look for a new child to link Madeleine McCann to?

DAILY TELEGRAPH: “Spanish police find body of missing girl”

Her disappearance less than two hours drive from Praia da Luz in the Algarve had prompted police to investigate whether there was any link to the apparent abduction of Madeleine McCann.

Shannon Matthews is missing. A picture of a girl not here.


Best friend Megan Aldridge, nine, yesterday told “GMTV that her pal, also nine, who disappeared on February 19, had a hideaway near her home in Dewsbury, West Yorks.”

Children on the telly. News or exploitation? Hearts or minds?

“She has pinpointed the location of the ‘foxhole’ to detectives during two interviews. Megan said: “A girl came up to her at school and started bullying her. “I told her to go away or I would tell, so she walked off.”

INDEPENDENT: Deborah Orr provides context.

Many commentators have remarked that the disappearance of Shannon Matthews has not made the same impact as the disappearance of Madeleine McCann because of “class”. There is truth in that, but not all of it is as uncomplicated as some observers suggest.

There was an undercurrent in the McCann case of antipathy towards the couple, who could dine out each evening in a nice resort but scrimped on babysitting, and a sinister hope that these seemingly upright citizens might have had a hand in their daughter’s fate, and that their “class” might be shielding them from exposure.

There is, at least, no such smear of Schadenfreude in the Matthews case. It is understood that nine-year-old girls going home from school in insalubrious areas are rarely, but plausibly, abducted.

There may have been no great rush to sanctify Karen Matthews, whose anguish over the loss of her daughter is not questioned. But there has been little attempt to accuse her either. People feel sorrow, but not as much surprise. The less comfortable an existence you have, the more likely it is that you will undergo awful life experiences. That isn’t class prejudice, but a sad fact of life in a remarkably unequal society.

Money. A missing child is a matter of money? A mising child is a matter of a white middle-class media entertaining its white middle-class readers? A mising child is a matter of empathy?

BRISBANE TIMES: “Two mothers, two lost girls, one class system”

Meet the two sides of the social class coin in Britain: Karen Matthews and Kate McCann. From parallel socioeconomic worlds, the two women are bound by perhaps the most traumatic experience a parent can have: the disappearance of a child… The unkind have depicted the two mothers as Waynetta Slob – Britain’s most famous underclass stereotype – versus Kate Moss – darling of the glamour set.

Anyone read of such a thing?

They have compared Ms Matthews’ seven children by five fathers and her 22-year-old boyfriend with Mrs McCann’s IVF-conceived twins and heart-surgeon husband. The high-minded say these things should not matter; it is the missing girls that are important. But it is clear that the perception of class does matter when trying to capture the public’s imagination…

The high-minded? Or just the police and those looking for the missing children. The children pictured. The children not here.

A former Daily Mirror editor and media commentator with The Guardian, Roy Greenslade, appraises public perception and media judgement. “The mother (Karen Matthews) is unsympathetic. This is a dysfunctional family, and people feel, ‘Does she not bring this upon herself? Is she not the author of her own misfortune?’ ” He says Ms Matthews represents an underclass that Daily Mail readers and their like cannot and do not want to relate to.
But the McCanns, he says, with their seemingly respectable lives, represent the aspirations of Middle England. “It shouldn’t matter. But it does. This is a really difficult thing for editors. They don’t like talking about this aspect because it really does betray the unspoken way they make their mind up.”

Media spin? If it bleeds it leads. Stories of girls not here.

Shannon Matthews is on the front pages of the Sun. Madeleine McCann is on the front page of the Daily Express.

The media on Madeleine McCann

Posted: 8th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann, Tabloids Comments (920) | TrackBack | Permalink