Friday, September 4, 2009

A thank you to the media

The day Michaela was kidnapped, a reporter came to my door and asked if he could interview me on television. I said no, I didn't want to do that. He told me he understood, but that I should really consider doing it. "It will help your daughter," he said. I asked how that was, and he said it would generate more sympathy, make her seem more real to people. So I said okay. Since then, I've probably given interviews numbering into the hundreds.

I don't really like to be on television, and I really don't like to have my picture in the paper. I'm not even sure that it does generate more sympathy. I think Michaela's innocent little face is what captures people's hearts and makes them care about her case. Even in my own eyes, any suffering I may have experienced is totally meaningless compared to the suffering Michaela experienced. But I do make these appearances, and on those rare occasions that I turn someone down (as I did today), I feel guilty. I am Michaela's spokesperson, at least until she returns.

And I really have to thank the media. Some years ago a popular novel appeared about a missing child. That book thoroughly vilified the media, which is one of the many things that indicated that the author had done no research and knew nothing about what it was like to have a missing child. When your child is missing, the media is your best friend. They offer you your very best chance of finding your child, but the friend metaphor tends to the literal as well. In the days and months after your child is kidnapped, the media become an intimate part of your life. You get to know the reporters who work for the local newspapers and TV stations. They are at your house so often they start to seem like family. Most of them have genuine feelings about what happened to your child. Reporters are human beings, and they care as much as anybody else when an innocent child suffers.

Recently, as a result of Jaycee Dugard's recovery and similarities between her case and Michaela's, the media coverage has started to center around Michaela again. And I am so very grateful. There is a chance that Michaela's case is related to Jaycee's, and something here will lead us to a resolution. But even if that were to prove not to be true, the media coverage she has received in recent days has resulted in numerous leads being called into the investigators. If Garrido turns out not to be involved, maybe at least one of those leads will contain the answers we need.

What I am hoping for most, however, is that Michaela is still alive out there somewhere, and she will see the news coverage. There has been a lot of national and even international attention to this case. Wherever she is, perhaps it will reach her, and she will see that we are still looking for her, she will see that we still love her and that nothing she has endured could ever change that, and perhaps she will find the courage to break free and come home.

So I'd like to thank the media for this opportunity, and I pray that we might have some really good news to give you one of these days. Some reporters and networks have been especially good to Michaela. One day, I'd love to be able to share with them the joyful news of her return.

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