This article in the Missoulian talks of the disappearance and death of Hanna Harris, a single mother on an Indian Reservation. Those two social constructions are key to this article; they take the forefront in how the story is laid out and portrayed to the audience. They cause us, as the article News as Myth by Jack Lule outlines, to make assumptions about the subject of the news and construct reasoning behind her tragedy.
Hanna was a single mother to her son Jeremiah who lived on an Indian reservation. She left her son in the care of her family when she went downtown on Tuesday, July 2. She told her family she would be home later so they could all go to the fireworks show together, but she never returned. Her family reported her missing on Friday, July 5 to the Lame Deer police. The police wouldn’t do anything about her disappearance until the following Monday saying she was probably just out drinking and would turn up. Her body was discovered on July 8 and, though the family suspects foul play after she was seen in a surveillance tape with two individuals who were in possession of her car keys, the FBI and Bureau of Indian Affairs aren’t giving them any answers, just saying that it’s an ongoing investigation.
Stereotypes presented in this article about irresponsible single mothers and Native Americans as heavy drinkers goes to show how these constructions play into our news every day. These things don’t have to be in the forefront of the article, but they are because they construct a narrative that is normalized in our society. Though we see single fathers as successes over the stereotypical “deadbeat dad,” our construction of single mothers is one of irresponsibility. The narrative says that Hanna should have never been downtown because she shouldn’t have left her son; it says she was probably just out drinking because our society has constructed stereotypes about Native Americans, especially ones on Reservations, are drunks. These stereotypes become normalized through the article and, though her family has presented what I view as legitimate reasons for their suspicions, the evidence is brushed off because of them.
As in the essay, News as Myth, Jack Lule tells of the construction of news through the normalization of mythical narratives. In his essay, Lule points out just how much news relies on the myths. News stories often repeat the same narrative; in this case, there are the narratives of the single mother and of Native Americans. News relies on these narratives so the story can flow. In this way, news stories don’t always create their own narratives; they’re able to use pre-constructed narratives to propel the story forward. This becomes problematic when readers just take what they read at face value. Instead of looking forward into the true story and the true narrative, readers take what’s already been constructed and run with it.