Trayvon Martin


Ebony editor: ‘The extremists are the ones with the megaphone’

When a Florida jury pronounced George Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin on July 13, Ebony magazine Editor-in-Chief Amy Barnett had to cope with two surprises:

First, she didn’t expect that the former neighborhood watch captain would completely escape punishment for shooting Martin, famously bearing just a can of iced tea and a bag of candy.

And she had a magazine which had to be put to bed in just eight days. What to do?

What Barnett eventually did, was scramble her staff to pull together an 18-page look at the issues raised by the verdict, including four separate cover shots featuring Martin’s parents and their surviving son, along with NBA star Dwayne Wade, filmmaker Spike Lee and actor Boris Kodjoe — each posing with their sons in gray, hooded sweatshirts to symbolize the “hoodie” Martin wore the night of his death.

The headline on each: “We are Trayvon” (excepting the cover featuring Martin’s parents, which reads: “We are all Trayvon.”)

“It was a team effort,” Barnett said of the decision to go with the four covers. Read more


Pew: 31% of tweets reflected anger following Zimmerman verdict

Pew Research Center

The Pew Research Center analyzed nearly 5 million tweets in the first 26 hours after the George Zimmerman verdict. Pew found that 39 percent of the tweets shared news sans opinion. Of the 38 percent of tweets that reflected opinions, 31 percent expressed opposition or anger and 7 percent supported the verdict.

Pew’s Mark Jurkowitz and Nancy Vogt explain:

The sentiments decrying the verdict were often emotional and frequently evoked a racial subtext, according to an analysis of the Twitter response to the trial outcome from 10 p.m. July 13 to midnight on July 14. Among that group, the largest component (15% of the Twitter reaction ) was criticism of the criminal justice system, including charges that it is biased against African Americans. Another 14% accused Zimmerman of wrong-doing, such as deliberately profiling Martin. And 2% spoke of Trayvon Martin as an innocent victim.

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George Zimmerman, Shellie Zimmerman

Can stories like the Zimmerman trial point to a better journalism?

The verdict in the George Zimmerman trial and juror B-37’s interview with CNN reveal what may be the greatest challenge to modern newsrooms on socially divisive issues: how best to get different communities to engage with each other.

Since Trayvon Martin’s death became a flashpoint in early 2012, news organizations have excelled at highlighting poignant, diverse voices offering up their analysis and personal experience. Fabulous writers penned passionate arguments. Social media gave rise to creative commentary. We all participated in the debate — the most committed of us by demonstrating, the rest of us by talking with each other face-to-face and sharing and commenting on social media. Now, the revelations about one juror’s point of view are sparking even more conversations about how our individual experiences inform our views.

And yet, we are as divided as ever. By democratizing publishing, the Internet and social media promised that we could all have a platform. Read more

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George Zimmerman Trial

Zimmerman attorney says he plans to move quickly in lawsuit against NBC

The Washington Post | USA Today | The Huffington Post | Journal-isms

George Zimmerman plans to move quickly against NBC now that he’s been found not guilty, The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple reports. Zimmerman attorney James Beasley told Wemple:

“We’re going to start in earnest asap, we just have to get the stay lifted which is a ministerial act.”

Following Saturday night’s verdict, Zimmerman attorney Mark O’Mara answered questions from reporters. While talking with them, O’Mara blamed the media for turning Zimmerman into a “monster.”

He was like a patient in an operating table where mad scientists were committing experiments on him and he had no anesthesia. He didn’t know why he was turned into this monster but quit honestly, you guys had a lot to do with it. You took a story that was fed to you and you ran with it, and you ran right over him.

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Why Gawker contributor posted photo of Trayvon Martin’s body

Gawker | Bad Journalist.

Adam Weinstein writes on Gawker that his motivation for posting a photo of Trayvon Martin’s dead body (which you will see if you click that link) was “Good old-fashioned rage.” A tipster sent him the image last night, which Weinstein said he didn’t see on TV. His source told him it ran on MSNBC for a “second or two,” Weinstein wrote in an email to Poynter, after people in the court considering charges against George Zimmerman saw it. Read more

George Zimmerman

Pointers journalists should keep in mind when covering the Zimmerman trial

As media coverage of George Zimmerman’s murder trial begins this week, we already know a few things that will happen.

Tiny Sanford, Fla., will become the center of the media universe, with hundreds of journalists expected to travel to the Seminole County Courthouse for the trial of the Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed unarmed 17-year-old black teenager Trayvon Martin, kicking off international protests when police hesitated to prosecute him.

Media outlets, which staked out a position on the incident when coverage exploded in March 2012, will likely echo it in their work now. So expect liberal-focused MSNBC to follow the lead of anchor Rev. Al Sharpton, who was a spokesman for Martin’s family while also hosting his 6 p.m. show on the newschannel last year. As Mediaite columnist Matt Wilstein noted, MSNBC needs the ratings boost from people of color, which could come from championing the Martin family’s perspective now. Read more

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George Zimmerman

How news organizations are covering Day 1 of the Zimmerman trial

George Zimmerman’s trial for murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin began Monday in Sanford, Fla., with jury selection.

• The Orlando Sentinel has a Twitter account for the trial, and it’s a good follow; it aggregates tweets from journalists and others. The Sentinel, like other outlets including The Huffington Post, are running live coverage from the trial.

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On anniversary of Trayvon Martin death, lessons and reflections on race and media

What stands out about Trayvon Martin is how easily his name might not have become a household word.

Martin, 17, was shot dead by George Zimmerman a year ago today — on Feb. 26, 2012 — while walking to a home he was visiting at a subdivision in Sanford, Fla. Later, after his case became a worldwide cause, people around the world learned the youth was unarmed, holding a bag of Skittles and a container of iced tea after a trip to a nearby convenience store.

Zimmerman was a volunteer neighborhood watch captain who killed the youth with a gun he was legally licensed to carry after they got in a fight; the state’s Stand Your Ground law provided possible justification for using lethal force if Zimmerman felt his life was in jeopardy.

But one of the first reports on the shooting, an 86-word piece printed in the Orlando Sentinel on Feb. Read more


George Zimmerman sues NBC over editing of 911 call about Trayvon Martin

Lawyers for George Zimmerman, who has been charged in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, announced Thursday that their defendant has sued NBC for defamation.

Zimmerman is also suing two people fired by the network and an owned-and-operated affiliate for their role in airing edited audio of a 911 call that was made before the shooting. Also being sued is one person still employed by the network, as well as the network itself.

As Andrew Beaujon reported in October, when sources told the New York Post such a suit was imminent,

NBC broadcast three reports using audio edited to make it appear Zimmerman said, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.” The first report was produced by WTVJ in Miami, which fired reporter Jeff Burnside, who was involved in editing it. “Today” broadcast a report apparently influenced by WTVJ’s that edited the audio the same way; reporter Lilia Luciano lost her job with the network after that.

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Trymaine Lee: New MSNBC gig is a chance to ‘flex different muscles’

Maynard Institute
Trymaine Lee, the Huffington Post reporter who helped move the Trayvon Martin story into the mainstream, is taking a job at MSNBC.

Reached by phone, Lee told Poynter he was taking most of November off to spend time with his daughter, who was born in August. His exact role at MSNBC “will be tightened” after he gets there, he said, but he expects to focus on what he said were “issues that are important to progressives,” such as gun rights and gun control.

As a police reporter at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Lee was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for its Hurricane Katrina coverage. He also contributed reporting to The New York Times’ Pultizer Prize-winning coverage of Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s downfall, Richard Prince writes. Read more


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