Anorak | Madeleine McCann: The Making Of Our Maddie – A Media Commodity

Madeleine McCann: The Making Of Our Maddie – A Media Commodity

by | 15th, May 2011

MADELEINE McCann: Anorak’s at-a-glance look at Our Maddie the innocent child who became a media commodity.


The child’s face peers out from the cover of the paper’s News Review section 4 of the swollen paper.


In the weeks after Madeleine McCann was abducted, her parents were beset by vicious rumour and bizarre offers of help. Worse was to come.

To take another angle, they were also offered lots of support and cash by those who wanted to help find the missing girl who might have been abducted.

Kate McCann tells of her terror as police declared her a suspect and offered her a deal to confess.

We’ve been here before. Kate McCann’s book has nothing new to add. The Times’s India Knight also has a few words that add nothign to the case:

India Knight: Smug parents enjoy punishing Kate and Gerry McCann

How so? Isn’t Madeleine McCann “every parent’s worst nightmare”? As Cassandra Jardine told Telegraph readers back in 2007: “”There but for the grace of…”

Jeremy Vine told us in his interview with the McCanns last week that it was every parent’s worst nightmare ”. He told us the parents were in a state of purgatory ”. The situation in Praia da Luz was compared to sitting in your garden with you children asleep upstairs. The Portuguese police were once more bashed.

It’s all nonsense. In four years, we have come no nearer to knowing what happened on that fateful evening.

Tim Black puts it thus:

Not that the absence of anything beyond hypothesis has inhibited the front page speculation. Indeed, the absence of hard evidence at the heart of the Maddie phenomenon has been its lifeblood. With nothing known beyond the barest of facts, anything, no matter how macabre, can be guessed at.

Whether it be Kate McCcann’s nightmares , paedos in Belgium or Arabs hunting for blondes , the usual suspects have been lined up to be shot at.

Black adds:

While the resurrected coverage of Our Maddie still features the same unfounded speculation, the same snidey attitude towards the Portuguese police, and the same half-baked commentaries on the parenting skills of Gerry and Kate McCann, the simple truth is that it no longer really resonates with the public at large.

At the story’s apogee, Ron Greenslade wrote:

“The media has overextended its critical faculties – it has become hypercritical.”

Now the pendulum has swung. The lack of facts that drove the media to speculate on anything from Kate’s tears to the blonde slave trade, searches for a new angle by lowering its voice and marvelling at the McCanns’ endurance and stoicism. Piers Morgan interviews the McCanns and tells them what good parents they are.

The media, not known for its love of the PR industry, is happy to feature the McCanns’ campaign. So long as it’s sentimental, the PR is ok to relay it to the masses.

The no news the void where a plot might be is filled with sentiment, theory and bilge. This invites us to take part, to create our own plot. So we get the Our Maddie phenomenon, a game of armchair detetctive in which David Cameron , Gordon Brown , the Pope , ribbon-wearing MPs and celebrities get involved; supporters stick posters of the child in their windows and buy a book to experience the event. None of that has anything to do with the official case. It is born of a desire to feel connected to the big story and join the debate.

On the date of Maddie’s fourth birthday, the Sun’s front-page headline declared:

“We share your pain.”

We didn’t. We just watched as voyeurs at the circus. The Sun was just filling in gaps by showing that the British care about missing kids and a darn site more than those Portuguese. Sure we felt sorry for the child, but the Sun was orchestrating us in a collective grief, tapping into the Princess Diana theme to make a private story a public event. The Express took another view and libelled the McCanns. But it wasn’t about the people; it was about the media competing for ownership of the story. Do you agree with the Sun or with the Express . Buy the paper. Take a view.

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Posted: 15th, May 2011 | In: Key Posts, Madeleine McCann Comments (4) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink