Frank Somerville, a nearly 30-year news veteran of KTVU, faced punishment after a reported disagreement with the station’s news director about how to cover the disappearance and homicide of Gabby Petito.
Somerville, like other news outlets, wanted to call attention to the racial disparity in media coverage when Black people and other people of color are reported missing and point out “the extraordinary level of media coverage devoted to the story,” The Mercury News first reported Friday (September 24).
Sources familiar with the situation reported that KTVU news director Amber Eikel disagreed with inserting the 46-second tagline about the racial disparity and the fall out over the story led to Somerville’s suspension.
The weeks-long national media coverage of Petito’s disappearance and homicide has generated conversation around the staggering number of Black people –– particularly Black women and girls –– who go missing each year.
The lack of media coverage, advocates say, only hurts in seeking answers about the disappearances of loved ones.
“I shouldn’t have to beg. I shouldn’t have to plead,” Carmen Bolden Day, mother of Jelani Day who went missing around the same time as Petito, told Good Morning America. Day’s body was identified three weeks after being discovered in a river.
“I shouldn’t have to feel that there is a racial disparity. I shouldn’t have to feel anything like that,” she continued. “I want these people that have these resources that this could happen to them.”
Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor. These additional resources are also available:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001
For more mental health resources, click HERE