The killing of Yale grad student Annie Le dominated headlines around the world, "but every murder is uniquely dramatic," Jack Shafer writes for Slate. Why this one? It involves a magic word. "Three murders at a Midwestern college equal one murder at Harvard or Yale," Shafer calculates. "If you kill somebody and want the press to go all Nancy Grace on your ass, make sure your victim attends or works at Harvard or Yale."
The disparity is well documented, indefensible, and easy to explain, Shafer contends. The tabs are trading in schadenfreude, their nominally tonier competitors in empathetic or aspirational coverage. "Had the Le murder happened at, say, Oklahoma State University," Schafer observes, "you'd have to bribe the night editor of the New York Times with a case of scotch and Hasty Pudding tickets to get him to run a one-inch wire story."