Today's THV's missing children policy

    2:58 PM, Feb 22, 2012   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- With the recent disappearance of Angela Allen and her tragic death, Today's THV wanted to outline once again our policy on when and why we air stories involving missing children.

    This is one example of how we evaluate each case. On Feb. 23, 2010, we focused on our coverage of a missing 13-year-old Pulaski County girl. The week before, family and friends notified us Magan Kharat was missing. She reportedly ran away from her home on Highway 161 in middle of the night.

    We initially did not air this story for several reasons. First of all, it did not come to us in the form of a Morgan Nick Amber Alert. Also, law enforcement was not involved at the time.

    As far as we knew, she was a runaway, and our policy is not to air stories of runaways unless law enforcement asks us for help finding him or her.

    After much evaluation and debate in our newsroom, we did decide to show Kharat's photo on our website and on our THV Facebook page. Still, some of our viewers were upset.

    Laura writes, "Shame on our law enforcement for not agreeing to issue an Amber Alert to help in the search for Magan! I am totally appalled! She is still a child, and an amber alert would get the word out about her being missing so more state agencies can get involved in her search! This is just wrong on sooo many levels."

    Tina says, "Abducted or runaway, she is still missing!! Issue something to help find her!"

    And Randy wrote in, "We have Amber Alerts and Silver Alerts, why don't we have alerts for every one in between? They are just as susceptible to be in danger also."

    The next week, the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department contacted us and told us they believe Magan could be in danger. For those reasons, we aired video of the billboard, pleading for help finding her and showed you her photo on our air. Magan was found in Mexico by the FBI in April 2010 and brought back home.

    For us to put a missing child case like this one on TV, it must meet two criteria: we must hear from law enforcement, and there must be true concern the child is in danger.

    This situation came up again in the case of Angela Allen. She was reported missing Feb. 15. Police didn't think it was an abduction at the time, but they were concerned. Sadly, Angela's body was found on the property of convicted sex offender Lloyd Jones.

    Again, we evaluate each story like this on a case-by-case basis and make the best decision we can based on the knowledge we have at the time.  We can't predict what will happen with every case, so we approach every case the same way.

    But we simply cannot put every missing child or runaway that comes into our newsroom on television. Otherwise, there wouldn't be room for any other news. That's how many we get.

    Our goal is also to bring transparency to what we do, letting you in on how we cover the news. Email thvinsider@todaysthv.com, and we will respond to your questions, comments, complaints, and compliments on Today's THV.

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