I often bridle at news articles that focus on a single individual who has suffered in some way, as opposed to on the wider issue and the many others who have suffered similarly. Often, the article will also simplistically demonize a particular thing or entity as the sole cause of blame.
In such articles, the thing being demonized is the 'scapegoat', but what is the term for a victim arbitrarily picked out from many?
'Martyr' doesn't fit as typically they (the martyr) die pursuing an abstracted goal or cause. The unknown soldier is a good example of a martyr, but they fought for something and remain anonymous. The victims I am trying to find a term for are often acknowledged in sympathetic terms, but not revered, and their now unattainable aims always seem to be cruelly highlighted.
'Figurehead' is another term I considered, as the word often used for someone prominent in a campaign, but they are not always involved in campaign - and rarely lead - a campaign.
An example of this would be from today's Metro newspaper (UK):
Patrick dreamed of studying at Cambridge. But the 17-year-old turned turned to drugs from Silk Road before dying of an overdose as his friends on Skype looked on helplessly.
The hallmarks of this are that the victim is highlighted to make a point, and is caricatured, their dashed aspirations always being emphasised, rather than being presented in a sympathetic light.
What is the term for this?