Trayvon Martin

Report: George Zimmerman to sue NBC over botched edit of 911 call

New York Post
Accused Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman is preparing a lawsuit against NBC, NBC News President Steve Capus and correspondent Ron Allen, the New York Post’s Page Six reports.

A source tells us, “The suit will be filed imminently against NBC and its news executives. The network’s legal department has put everybody in the news department involved with this incident on notice, telling them not to comment.”

Poynter has confirmed that NBC is not commenting in this matter.

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. The Allen report was broadcast after those two, and apparently used the same audio track as the second.

Correction: NBC’s Miami affiliate is WTVJ not WTVR as this post originally stated. Read more

George Zimmerman, left, walks out of the intake building at the John E. Polk Correctional Facility with an unidentified man on Sunday, April 22, 2012, in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman posted bail on a $150,000 bond on a second degree murder charge in the February shooting death of 17 year-old Trayvon Martin In Sanford, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

Trayvon Martin story revitalizes black press, mobilizes ‘new guard’

As George Zimmerman is released on bail from a Florida jail after being charged with the second-degree murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, the case has ushered in “new guards” of black media, reports Jeff John Roberts, in a story that appeared on paidContent and CNN this month.

“African American news site has helped drive NBC’s coverage of the Trayvon Martin tragedy,” Roberts reports. “Since its first piece on March 8, theGrio has published more than 250 stories on Martin and many of its videos have landed on shows like the ‘Today’ show and ‘NBC Nightly News.’ The Grio’s success reflects the rise of a new generation of African American news as well as a new symbiosis between niche and mainstream media outlets.”

A look back

The U.S. black press began in 1827 when John Russwurm and Samuel Cornish started Freedom’s Journal in New York. Black newspapers were most popular during the 1920’s and ’30s, when major papers virtually ignored black America.

During that time, major newspapers wouldn’t even run African-American obituaries, writes Larry Muhammad for the Nieman Foundation. Black newspapers and magazines were once the dominant means of communication for African Americans, as depicted in the documentary “Soldiers Without Swords.” But with circulations in free fall, their continued relevance had been questioned in recent years.

Martin’s story is turning that idea on its head.

Trayvon Martin coverage

The black press has the freedom to stay on top of stories like Trayvon Martin’s, even when other news happens, a freedom that may not exist at other types of publications, said Nisa Muhammad, chairwoman of the National Association of Black Journalists’ Black Press Task Force.

“Black audiences, in particular, are not going to get everything they need to know about this story from the mainstream media,” said Muhammad, who is a staff writer at The Final Call newspaper. “Passion and commitment to the story to the end is what readers get from the black press. We’re going to stay on this story until justice is done.”

The black press was started so that black journalists, black people, could tell their own stories, stories that were often overlooked by mainstream publications. Martin’s story, ironically, was initially overlooked and ignored by mainstream news organizations that didn’t connect with the big picture or think Martin’s plight would resonate with its audiences.

George Zimmerman, left, walks out of the intake building at the John E. Polk Correctional Facility with an unidentified man on Sunday, April 22, 2012, in Sanford, Fla., after posting bail on a $150,000 bond. (Brian Blanco/AP)

It was black websites and black bloggers that helped bring attention to the story. But just as mainstream media lagged behind in reporting on the unarmed 17-year-old who was killed by a neighborhood watchman, so did black newspapers.

Black newspapers missed the story because of their production cycles — many are weeklies and don’t have strong online presences. Publications that do have websites update them on a weekly basis, according to their print production schedule. The cycle fits the papers’ shoestring budgets, but it also means black newspapers are often late to the story.

The future of the black press

Black websites, however, including The Grio, and TheRoot.comall niche publications that are not black-owned — operate on 24-hour news cycles, just as their parent companies do. The Grio is a subsidiary of MSNBC, Black Voices is owned by Huffington Post and The Root is a part of The Washington Post Company.

While national coverage of Martin’s story has waned, the niche sites continue to publish key developments in Martin’s case and are also connecting it to larger stories and issues that are similar to Martin’s case. While mainstream publications debate whether the hoodie Martin wore led to his death or whether racism played a role in his killing, black publications see an opportunity to fulfill a greater mission. They are also more focused on the specifics of Martin’s case than more mainstream news organizations.

Eric Deggans, TV and media critic for The Tampa Bay Times, said on “Morning Edition” last week, “I think at some point, this story became different things for different media outlets, depending on how they galvanized audiences.”

For the black press and its audience:

They recognized this story as an opportunity to say that sometimes there is a suspicion that the institutions in society don’t work for people of color the way they work for white people. The central concern here was maybe the police and prosecutors who were initially involved didn’t do as thorough a job as they should have.

For example:

  • The Root produced a multimedia package entitled “Beyond Trayvon: Black and Unarmed,” which looks at 17 unarmed black men who “lost their lives to law enforcement officers or others who decided that they were dangerous enough to die.”
  • Black Voices reported on whether Martin’s death, and the initial response to it by Sanford, Florida police, where Martin was killed, is part of a practice and pattern of law enforcement in the small town.
  • The Grio routinely stuck to using wire copy, posting opinion and some daily news updates, along with the site’s reporting. Its managing editor, Joy Ann Reid, landed on news TV programs such as the “Today” show and “NBC Nightly News.” David Wilson, The Grio’s executive editor who helped launch the site in 2009, told Roberts the niche publication’s influence on its parent company was “…the trickle-up effect.”

Wilson said websites such as his, are now the “new guards” in black media. Based on this coverage, he may be right. Meanwhile, the story is also revitalizing the old guard. Read more


CBS credits Mark Strassmann with breaking Trayvon Martin story

Maynard Institute | New York Times | Miami Herald | Orlando Sentinel

The Trayvon Martin case has gotten relatively quiet, so is it time to revisit who first helped spread the story? Bob Schieffer said on Sunday that Mark Strassmann, who works in the network’s Atlanta bureau, was first. Richard Prince noted yesterday that Strassmann’s story appeared the same day Trymaine Lee’s piece in the Huffington Post was published: March 8. It’s probably wrong to ask which piece had bigger impact; they resonated in different ways.

Strassmann was also credited with being first in a March 25 New York Times piece by Brian Stelter, who wrote:

The first national attention appears to have come from CBS News, on March 8, after the network’s southeast bureau, based in Atlanta, was tipped off. Mark Strassmann, a correspondent, and Chris St. Peter, a producer, contacted the family’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump, and then sent an e-mail suggestion to a group of “CBS This Morning” producers. “We can interview the victims’ parents tomorrow,” they wrote in the e-mail, promising an exclusive. Within 40 minutes, the producers had said yes.

Stelter notes that Lee’s piece, and another on, were also published March 8. Recently, Tracie Powell wrote for Poynter that the three people who deserved credit for moving the story are Lee, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Charles Blow. (I think you could also argue that Jonathan Capehart played a big role.) Read more

Trayvon Martin's mother Sybrina Fulton, center, closes her eyes as the family attorney Benjamin Crump rests his head against her shoulder, next to her son Jahvaris Fulton, left, during a news conference about the arrest of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin, at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, on Wednesday, April 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

How 5 news sites monitor, moderate conversation about Trayvon Martin stories

A Huffington Post story about George Zimmerman’s second-degree murder charge had generated more than 15,000 comments by Wednesday evening. By noon today, the story had more than 25,000 comments.

Editors at smaller news organizations say their sites and social media platforms have also been inundated with comments.

“It’s a difficult thing to manage, in part because the volume of the comments is so extreme,” said Miami Herald Managing Editor Rick Hirsch. “It’s almost like a Twitter feed.”

Hirsch and other journalists I talked to all agree that people want to talk about the Trayvon Martin story and that news sites should provide forums for this conversation. But they have different thoughts on how to moderate the conversation, and have taken a variety of approaches.

Moderating all comments to keep the conversation focused

Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton, center, closes her eyes as the family attorney Benjamin Crump rests his head against her shoulder, next to her son Jahvaris Fulton, left, during a news conference about the arrest of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin, at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, on Wednesday, April 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The Huffington Post relies on a combination of an algorithm and staffers to moderate its comments. All comments are pre-approved before they appear on the site and are posted only if they meet the Huffington Post’s commenting guidelines.

“Our community is very good at flagging,” Community Manager Justin Isaf said by phone. “We do definitely pull things down that are problematic.”

Readers who have flagged a lot of inappropriate comments that the moderation team ends up deleting are given “community moderator badges.” When readers with this badge flag a comment, the moderation team gives the flagged comment priority review. (Isaf wouldn’t say how many staff and reader moderators there are altogether.)

One of the moderator team’s main jobs is to make sure that a vocal minority aren’t dominating the conversation. They’ve had to watch for these types of comments on the Trayvon Martin stories, which have generated some offensive and generalized remarks about race and gun control, Isaf said.

“People will argue until everyone else leaves and they think they won the conversation, but really, everyone’s just tired of the same exact thing and not being able to move the debate forward. We try to stop that from happening before it happens,” Isaf said. “It’s about making sure that people who want a real debate can have that discussion rather than having someone come in and hit them over the head with caps lock.”

The Huffington Post also looks to see what people are saying on Twitter and Facebook, where the conversations sometimes differ from those in the comments section.

“We don’t see things that are as bad on Facebook as we do on the site,” Isaf said. “Real name identities really cut down on that.”

Relying on readers to flag offensive, inappropriate comments

The Miami Herald’s Hirsch said it’s been difficult to moderate comments on the site’s Trayvon Martin stories because of the sheer volume. The Herald has published numerous stories about Martin, who is from Miami. doesn’t have a designated staff of moderators, but instead tries to make it a shared responsibility among editors, producers, reporters and readers. The site’s online producers are asked to monitor comments on active stories. They get emails whenever readers have flagged an inappropriate comment and then look to see whether the comment has violated the site’s guidelines.

“Reporters and editors here are very much in the habit of looking at what’s being said in the stories they’re involved with,” Hirsch said by phone. “Some stories have gotten 4,000 or 5,000 comments. I don’t think any one person can read all of those.”

It would be easy to just turn off comments and not have to worry about moderating them. But that’s not an option that many news sites have been willing to take with this story.

“I’m reluctant to opt for the nuclear option, which is just to shut off comments,” Hirsch said. “There are times when we’ve done that on some stories, but I think that’s always a last resort.”

Even the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, which typically shuts off comments on stories that address racial issues, has allowed comments on all Trayvon Martin stories. Terry Sauer, assistant managing editor/digital, said the Tribune has a dozen staffers who moderate comments in shifts. “The discussion on our site on the Trayvon Martin case has been very active, but remarkably civil,” he said.

Rewarding readers for contributing thoughtful comments

The Orlando Sentinel has been trying to engage with readers who post civil comments. The Sentinel’s story about the charges against Zimmerman has about 400 comments so far.

“It’s not unusual for stories related to [Trayvon Martin] to generate hundreds of comments from readers,” said Mike Lafferty, the Sentinel’s opinions editor. “We’ve also seen a sharp uptick in comments on our Orlando Sentinel Facebook page for posts related to that case. We saw a similar reaction Wednesday night after we started posting news of the special prosecutor’s press conference in Jacksonville.”

Rather than turn off comments on Trayvon Martin stories, Lafferty said the site is trying to pay closer attention to the comments to ensure that readers comply with the site’s commenting guidelines. Throughout the day, various Sentinel staffers monitor comments and check on the ones that readers flag.

“If a comment is found to be in violation we unpublish it and send the violator a message that includes a reminder about our terms of service and our right to stop that person from further commenting,” Lafferty said via email. “In an ideal world we might try to ask someone to modify their comments but that’s a very time-consuming proposition. Instead we remind them of our rules and ask that they abide by them.”

The Sentinel has had to remove comments that violate the site’s guidelines, but not as many as you might expect, Lafferty said. “While some try to skirt the edges of the rules, people seem genuinely interested in talking about the broader issues the case has raised, issues that involve race relations, gun laws, self-defense and equality of justice. We’ve not yet closed any of those stories to comments.”

The site’s social media coordinator has been monitoring the conversation on Facebook and Twitter to let the site’s followers know that someone’s listening. Lafferty said he’s also made it a practice to enter the conversation — sometimes by clarifying a point, providing supplemental information, or thanking someone for commenting.

Outsourcing comment moderation, leaving social media conversation take its course outsources its comment moderation to a company called ICUC. Kate Myers,’s product manager for social media, typically gets a several questions per week from the company about how to handle specific comments, but said she doesn’t recall getting questions about comments on Trayvon Martin stories.

“Nothing has come up that has caused our moderators to reach out to us specifically about the comments,” she said by phone. “We do occasionally look at some of the conversations. As a small team, we don’t have the capacity to look at all of them but we do have people emailing us directly to take a look at a particular conversation.”

The volume of comments on NPR’s Trayvon Martin stories has varied. One of the site’s stories about Zimmerman being charged with second-degree murder didn’t generate any comments in the comments section. By contrast, a blog post about the same topic generated about 325 comments by midday Thursday.

That same blog post generated more than 1,200 comments on NPR’s Facebook page, which has more than 2.3 million followers. Many of the Trayvon Martin stories NPR has posted to Facebook have generated more than 1,000 comments each.

Unlike the Orlando Sentinel, Myers said’s social media staffers don’t typically join the discussion on Facebook.

“It’s extremely rare, partially because of how fleeting comments on Facebook are compared to comments on our stories,” she said. “We do delete some egregious spam comments on Facebook, but we usually let the community take care of itself. In a 2,500 comment thread, our comment’s going to get lost.”

Responding to emails & tweets, but not comments

Huffington Post Senior Reporter Trymaine Lee, who just won the Sidney Award for his coverage of Trayvon Martin, said he doesn’t engage with people who comment directly on stories.

“I almost feel that that’s a safe space for folks to say whatever they want to say without me chiming in. That’s just me. I think some other reporters do engage with readers in our comments section.”

Lee, who co-wrote the Huffington Post story that has generated 23,000+ comments, typically contributes to the conversation about his work via Twitter, in part because “the platform just doesn’t allow lengthy diatribes and it’s just easier to be brief and to the point.”

Lee has found that some readers want to have a more private conversation about Trayvon Martin coverage, rather than posting their comments online for everyone to see. Since he started reporting on Trayvon Martin, Lee has been deluged with emails.

“In the beginning, most were from supporters of the family. They were either calling for Zimmerman’s arrest or asking me to keep shining a light on the case. At some point there was a shift and the majority of the notes were from critics of Trayvon Martin or from racists,” Lee said via email. “The mean notes are harder to handle. For one I don’t really want to encourage unproductive dialogue with someone who is just trying to be hateful or provocative.”

The journalists I talked to said they plan to continue to monitor the conversations surrounding Trayvon Martin stories, whether they’re taking place in comments sections, on social media or via email. The Huffington Post’s Isaf said this is exactly the type of story that news sites should want people talking about on their sites.

“This is a national conversation, and just because it’s controversial doesn’t mean you should hide from it,” he said. “The more controversial it is, the more important it is to have a conversation about what the story’s addressing.” Read more

1 Comment

Why report on neo-Nazi activity related to Trayvon Martin shooting?

There are lots of people from fringe groups saying stupid things in the wake of Martin’s killing and the push to arrest Zimmerman. Tampa NBC affiliate WFLA-Ch. 8 reported Wednesday that neo-Nazi groups were handing out literature as people gathered just before Corey announced her decision on charges. … But media should be more responsible. We don’t run to neo-Nazi groups for comment on every racial controversy because we know two things: such groups only represent a small sliver of opinions, and giving racist groups media attention only helps them grow and spread.”

Related: Neo-Nazis respond to media skepticism about Sanford patrols by offering up a questionable source

Eric Deggans, Tampa Bay Times


How CNN homepage evolved with news of Zimmerman charges, arrest for Trayvon Martin shooting

Breaking news is often fluid, but journalists had time to plan Wednesday for news that George Zimmerman would likely face charges in the February shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Florida State Attorney Angela Corey scheduled a 6 p.m. press conference to announce her decision, during which the Top 10 news sites generally updated their homepage once or twice with either a new headline or new photo or both. Based on checks I did every 15 minutes or so, and screenshots I grabbed between 5:50 and 6:55, CNN was the only one of those sites to update the story headline and/or photo more than twice in that hour. Here’s how its coverage progressed.

CNN’s initial homepage story at 5:57 p.m. — just before the news conference began — relied on anonymous sources and photos of Zimmerman and Martin.
Read more
State Attorney Angela Corey, special prosecutor in the Trayvon Martin case, announces that George Zimmerman will be charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin during a news conference Wednesday, Apr. 11, 2012, in Jacksonville, Fla. Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin as he walked home in Sanford, Fla. on Feb. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Rick Wilson)

Special prosecutor in Trayvon Martin case: ‘The media has helped’

Florida State Attorney and special prosecutor Angela Corey praised journalists during the news conference in which she announced that George Zimmerman has been charged with murder in the second degree for the February 26th shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

“It is regrettable that so many facts and details got released and misconstrued,” Corey said Wednesday evening. “But we hope that — and the media has helped, toning it down a lot and making sure that people understand Florida law and the process. And we hope that people will continue to do that.”

On CNN, legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin noted that Florida’s Sunshine laws mean cameras in the courtroom for Zimmerman’s trial.

“This trial will be a trial by television,” Toobin said. Read more


The 10 things to do before Zimmerman charges are announced

State Attorney and special prosecutor Angela Corey is expected to announce today at 6 p.m. whether criminal charges will be filed against George Zimmerman, who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., in February. The Washington Post reports that Zimmerman will be charged, though it is not clear with what crime.

Zimmerman’s lawyers resigned Tuesday after losing touch with their client, who they said contacted Corey, as well as Fox News’ Sean Hannity. Zimmerman also talked about his new website via email with student journalist Wesley Lowery.

Before the charges are announced, here are eight things your newsroom needs to do:

Be ready to watch the conversation taking place around the stories you publish. This includes comments on stories, as well as those on Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. Decide who will be responsible for moderating and responding to them. Determine how you will handle racially charged comments. Consider asking a local expert to weigh in on comment threads for additional perspective.

Identify and contact local experts who can add context and give people a better understanding of the legal implications of the story. Also be sure to differentiate between opinions and expertise.

Discuss how you will flag and verify new information and photos circulating on social networks before you share them.

Find a local angle. How does this news affect members of your community, and how can you make it relevant to them? How are people in the community responding?

Understand what the legal charges mean. Learn the difference between first-degree murder, second-degree murder and manslaughter in Florida and in your coverage area. When the charges are announced, you’ll need to explain them.

Think about what the charges could mean for your state’s Stand Your Ground Law if you have one. How might this charge affect the law — in Florida and other states?

Remind staff to avoid coded language when talking about the racial components of this story. Decide how you will describe Zimmerman’s background and be consistent.

Have conversations about the images you’ll use to portray Zimmerman and Martin. How have you been using the images, and how will the news affect your use of them moving forward, if at all?

If you’re a newsroom manager, consider whether it’s important to send a reporter/crew to cover this story in person. Talk about it with your colleagues to hear their thoughts and advice.

Brainstorm the follow-up stories you may do after the charges are announced. What if new evidence turns up? Does the legal decision effectively end your coverage of this story? Or, is your audience and newsroom prepared for continuing coverage?

Julie Moos contributed to this report. Read more


Media repeat, but don’t check, claims of armed neo-Nazis where Trayvon Martin was killed

A leader of a neo-Nazi group called the National Socialist Movement says his group has organized armed patrols of Sanford, Fla., the town where George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin.

“You can either be prepared or you can be blindsided,” NSM Commander Jeff Schoep told the Miami New Times for a Friday morning blog post, the first to report claims of armed patrols. “This way, if something were to touch off a race riot, we’d already be in the area.”

But are they actually patrolling the area? The New Times story didn’t include comment from local authorities or any other sources that could confirm this. Its story went online with the eye-popping headline, “Armed Neo-Nazis Now Patrolling Sanford, Say They Are ‘Prepared’ for Post-Trayvon Martin Violence.”

The story spread rapidly to other media outlets, including the New York Daily NewsGawkerThe Huffington PostRaw Story, the New York PostMediaiteThe BlazeThe Daily Beast, Drudge and the Daily Mail.

All of them repeated the information in the Miami New Times article: Heavily armed patrols of neo-Nazis are underway. None of the articles included a comment from local police or residents.

It appears the first person to think it might be a good idea to get a second source on the neo-Nazis’ claim was William A. Jacobson, an associate professor at Cornell Law School, who runs the Legal Insurrection blog. (I spotted his post thanks to an item on NewsBusters about how this story spread.)

Here’s the response Jacobson got from the Sanford Joint Information Center:

At this time the City of Sanford has not confirmed the presence of Neo-Nazis groups. … We have no indication of any such patrols at this point in Sanford. The only large gathering was the children and their parents at the Easter egg hunt.

Yet by that point, the story was all over the Web. After Jacobson’s post started to get attention, some outlets, including the Miami New Times, updated their posts.

The headline on the New Times piece now says it’s been updated, but it still includes the phrase, “Armed Neo-Nazis Now Patrolling Sanford.” Here’s the update that was added to the story, which is currently the most viewed and commented story on the site:

The Sanford Police Department says that it has no evidence of neo-Nazis in the area. “We have not seen any neo-Nazis on patrol nor have we had any reports of them,” says Sgt. David Morgenstern. He added that there had been no sign of the New Black Panther Party, either.

Other outlets that have updated their accounts include the Daily News, Mediaite and The Blaze. But there are still plenty of stories that make no mention of the important, contradictory information from police.

Contacted by email, Michael Miller, author of the New Times story, told me NSM leader Schoep still claims his volunteers are on the ground.

“To my knowledge, Schoep has not changed his story,” Miller said by email. “He has since told me that one of NSM’s patrols will meet with media in Sanford this afternoon. As I made clear in the article, Schoep claims there are only 10-20 NSM volunteers riding around Seminole County in several cars. He also says that, unlike on the Arizona-Mexico border, they are not brandishing weapons or flying Confederate flags.”

Why mention the Arizona-Mexico border patrols? Because in their articles, the New Times and others splashed photos of those heavily-armed patrols, helping to feed the impression that this was what was going on in Sanford.

Miller said his original report isn’t wrong just because police deny the presence of patrols. Responding to an email in which I called his piece incorrect, he wrote:

The fact that local law enforcement has not yet seen evidence of the Neo-Nazis does not mean that Schoep is lying or that the article is, as you put it, “incorrect.”

In a reply, I agreed that it’s possible there are patrols that haven’t been noticed by local police. I also pointed out that his piece didn’t make that element of uncertainty clear. Perhaps as a result, I wrote, this aspect “has been lost in all of the reports that followed your first story.”

Then there’s the question of whether the New Times, and all the outlets that piled on without adding any value, accurately portrayed what’s going on in Sanford. I’d point to the alarmist headline and the lead sentence from the New Times as answers:

Neo-Nazis are conducting heavily armed patrols in and around Sanford, Florida, and are “prepared” for violence in case of a race riot.

That doesn’t reflect the kind of context Miller offered in our email exchange. It sounds like exactly the kind of patrol you’d expect local authorities to notice.

Jacobson, the lawyer who unlike so many journalists thought to email Sanford officials for comment, had this to say about the story in his post:

I can’t say this is the worst example of rumor mongering and irresponsible conduct by bloggers and the mainstream media I have ever seen, but it’s a contender.

For The Daily Beast, Huffington Post, Mediaite, and The Daily News to spread such thinly-sourced claims without verification at a time when racial tensions already are high is irresponsible in the extreme.

Let’s hope Gawker, HuffPost, The Daily Beast, New York Post and all the other websites will update their respective stories as soon as possible to reflect the comments from law enforcement.

Let’s also hope journalists ask good questions at today’s planned press event with the NSM patrol group, that they consult other sources to back up what the group claims, and that their stories accurately reflect what is and isn’t happening.

Update: Miami New Times editor Chuck Strouse replied in the comments of this post. He writes in part:

High-minded criticism, indeed. But wrong-headed and Luddite. We reported the claims of one group and updated the post as quickly as we got the information. It was couched as claims. (Our only mistake: the headline should have included “group claims.” The story clearly made this point.)

I replied to him in the comments. The short version: The story didn’t qualify Schoep’s comments, and before the headline and the lead were changed Monday, they definitively repeated his claims. You can see Strouse’s and my comments in full below. Feel free to chime in. Read more


Should journalists show support for Trayvon Martin, ask for Scott Walker’s recall?

Two separate incidents involving journalists who work for Gannett and ESPN have renewed attention to the issue of how journalists should exercise their right to free speech.

Earlier this week, editors and publishers at several Gannett papers said that its journalists had violated the company’s values by signing petitions calling for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s recall. ESPN, meanwhile, dropped its ban on staff posting photos of themselves wearing hoodies to show solidarity with Trayvon Martin.

These news organizations’ decisions raise interesting questions: Which of these types of speech should journalists feel free to exercise? And should journalists who are covering these stories limit their speech more than those who aren’t?

We asked our Twitter followers about this (take our poll here), and hosted a related live chat with Reuters’ Jack Shafer. During the chat, we discussed both situations and responded to feedback and questions from chat participants.

You can replay the chat here …

<a href=”” mce_href=”” >What types of free speech should journalists be free to exercise?</a> Read more


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