History 303: Research and Writing Seminar in History
The cases of Rachel Newhouse, Aundria Crawford, and Kristen Smart are vital in evaluating how the San Luis Obispo media—specifically, the San Luis Obispo County Telegram-Tribune and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo school newspaper, Mustang News—have treated cases of violence against women in the past. On a larger scale, looking at the cases of these three women will reveal how missing female college students were treated by the media in the 1990s and if this treatment has changed in recent years. In the cases of Kristin Smart and Aundria Crawford, the Telegram-Tribune followed the predominant trend of media outlets by subtly blaming female victims for the crimes committed against them. However, the Telegram-Tribune chose to not blame Rachel Newhouse for her own disappearance. In contrast, Mustang News presented Smart in a positive manner but agreed with police that underage drinking was a large factor in Newhouse’s disappearance and did not adequately report on Crawford’s disappearance. Although the Telegram-Tribune and Mustang News varied on their coverage of each victim, these newspapers both followed the predominant trends of media outlets of subtly blaming female victims for the crimes committed against them and presenting victims as having unfavorable personalities.