Larry Schnackenberg and his family have a lot of explaining to do but the local media is letting them off the hook after his high profile disappearance and then rediscovery took up a not-so-inconsequential amount of resources and broadcast space that could have been utilized for more forthright causes.
Meanwhile, Mike “Never quite found a job in PR” Hendricks argues for public ignorance and a lack of any critical insight regarding mainstream media reporting. And I’m starting to believe that anti-crime activist Alonzo Washington has a point in pointing out the phoniness of this story.
The only part of the story that makes sense is the unwillingness of the family to be forthright about the guy’s reason for attempting to “go native” in the deepest recesses of the JoCo woods. Like it or not, their silence isn’t serving the public interest in missing persons cases.
Allow me to explain.
While it has never been codified, there is a symbiotic relationship between missing persons and media outlets who take up their cause. In the recent case of the dude found allegedly roaming around a Shawnee Mission Park Trail for almost a month the family used media resources to tout his cause and create a stir for an initial search. And again with an organized a press conference to call an end to the case. But because they won’t even come close to explaining the situation reveals a bit of hypocrisy that allows for secrecy when it comes to media relations with law enforcement.
When newsies serve as a “go-between” with authorities they’re expected to pose tough questions and keep these media events from becoming a merely an exercise in public relations. Reporters like Mike Mahoney and Chris Hernandez fire away at ANYBODY at the podium without mercy or preference and their fortitude keeps them from being played. And believe it or not, authorities are usually open to these questions despite the instinct of everyone in the public eye to avoid any real scrutiny. Still, in so many JoCo missing persons cases there are few real investigations. For instance, a couple of years ago press conferences on the murder of Kelsey Smith were nothing more than a vast array of PR maneuvers used to stifle any real inquiries and didn’t tell us anything about the circumstances of that murder.
In the case of the Wild Man Of The JoCo Woods, the whole affair ended nicely with the family reunited for a wedding and the mystery dad who simply played “wild man” for a bit in the park. Nevertheless, the fact that media is so easily led astray and won’t delve into the most interesting aspect of a grown man gone off the grid playing Suburban Sasquatch, once again reveals that sometimes this town is simply too polite to be taken seriously.