27 Aug, 2012 @ 10:00
1 min read

False Maddie trails

maddie mccann then and now

MORE than five years after Madeleine McCann’s disappearance, the media spotlight remains firmly on the little girl’s fate.

Despite continued speculation about her whereabouts and a consistent stream of potential sightings, the trail remains cold.

With each story that appears, hope is temporarily revived only for it to seemingly be dashed again, but the media has a duty to keep these cases in the public domain.

However unlikely or tenuous the link may be, there remains the possibility that one piece of evidence could become a vital piece in the jigsaw.

The danger is that the story becomes a case of the boy who cried wolf, and that when a genuine sighting emerges, no one takes it seriously.

Either way, the real tragedy of the case is that there are thousands of other missing children around the world who do not have the benefit of worldwide media interest in their fate.


  1. Good article and points. It’s a noble thing to want to search for a missing person, but once a case gains so much publicity you start having reports of ‘sightings’ everywhere. Unfortunately the media fuels this more than anyone. There are two different articles here on Olive Press alone talking about a McCain sighting – one in Nerja and another in an airplane. I can only imagine how many calls the police get about this every day, “Oh I think I saw the girl.” And, in reality, they are actually supposed to follow up on any deemed credible. But in practice it desensitizes and makes it something to ignore; “Oh another crazy person calling about this missing girl.”

  2. Agreed, a good, if short, article.
    One of the problems I see is that if a paper becomes too closely associated with one line of thought, it may become blind to the other possibilities. For a paper to take a particular political line in its editorial content, and to support broadly left or broadly right wing approaches to taxation, nationalisation, and austerity is one thing, but for a highly influential one, like the Sun, constantly to refer to “Disgraced ex-cop” and for Tony Parsons in the Mirror to tell the Portuguese Ambassador to Britain “just keep your stupid, sardine-munching mouth shut.“ and to denigrate the Portuguese police and by extension the people in a xenophobic way, is entirely another.
    Both of these papers carry enormous weight amongst the unthinking public.
    We know that proper investigative journalism and comment has been severely limited by the activities of libel lawyers acting for TM, and have to accept that they are now protected in a way rarely seen before. We know that comment and observations about the facts and the family and their friends causes outrage among those who support them unconditionally and without regard to the contradictions even in the evidence they supplied in the first few days.
    Your paper seems to be taking the line that all sightings should be reported. This is, as you know contrary to best practice agreed by police and press, which, for reasons of the safety of the child, is to allow the police to investigate thoroughly before putting the information in the public domain. There are well established protocols for this. One can only therefore assume that because so many papers are going against these protocols they already know or suspect that the “sightings’ are nonsense, and could not harm Madeleine by revealing the details. (In exactly the same way as publicising the eye defect put Madeline in significant danger. It is notable that Kate has more recently lied by saying “to be honest we haven’t put too much emphasis on her eye. Apart from trademarking the LOOK logo, using the eye as a feature in the Cup Final and so on ! ) But like the previous correspondent, I do worry that this incessant repetition of what is usually the same story is distracting from the search for the truth about what happened .

  3. Quite correct O.P. There are too many drooling loons with half-baked ideas that come on this site, who’s only effect is to further obfuscate an already confused picture. The worst one is the barmy psychic who has managed to convince himself of his omniscience. Give over the lot of you.

  4. First of all, I think PM has libelled Kate McCann in his comment above by openly stating she lied.

    Secondly, Madeleine’s abduction has highlighted the plight of all missing children. One quick glance of social media like Twitter and Facebook will illustrate that, in part, her story has raised the profile of all missing children and people. That’s a good thing, surely?

    Thridly, any time a ‘sighting’ of Madeleine is reported, it serves to remind people that she is still missing and findable. That other missing children are missing and findable.

    Normal decent people who really care about children don’t get ‘the boy who cried wolf’ fatigue. They don’t stop looking for Madeleine just because you post a story about a possible sighting. I would guess you are receiving emails from a group of people who don’t want Madeleine found and would rather you never mentioned her again, unless it was to accuse her family? You need to question their motives, not beat yourselves up for caring about a missing child.

    And there is nothing stopping you from highlihting the cases of other children alongside Madeleine, is there?

    Madeleine is high profile, so keep her profile high and use her story postively, by telling us about other missing children. It’s a win-win situation. If you go mute; Madeleine misses out, and so do all the other lost and findable children. I’m sure that’s not what you really want?

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