April 17, 2012

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 TheGrio.com, 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.)

Poynter’s Kelly McBride did a very thorough forensic examination of how the story traveled, giving particular credit to bloggers:

African American bloggers around the country started telling the story. Nick Chiles at MyBrownBaby.org wrote, “These kinds of stories cut me deeply because I see my own life, my own son, my own circumstances, all up in the details.” South Florida single mom blogger known as DebsVintageSoul wrote, “I am grateful for Social Media and the Internet that brings us these important stories and make it less likely that people like Trayvon Martin will live and die and vanish away without leaving an imprint.”

In the next two days, many more blogs cried out, including Globalgrind,RavingBlackLunatic, and NewBlackMan.

Also in Trayvon Martin media news: The Miami Herald and the Orlando Sentinel are among the media organizations filing motions requesting access to the file of George Zimmerman, who is accused of second-degree murder in Martin’s death. “[L]awyers for the news agencies pointed out that the lawyers never notified the media organizations of their request to seal documents, and never showed actual evidence that a future jury would be prejudiced by the coverage,” David Ovalle reports.

Zimmerman’s attorney filed a motion asking Judge Jessica Recksiedler to recuse herself, because her husband works with attorney Mark NeJame, who is analyzing the case for CNN. “Exactly what the motion says was not clear because the court file is sealed, but Recksiedler is almost certain to grant it,” Rene Stutzman reports. “Under Florida law, all a person needs to show is a reasonable belief that the judge might not be fair.”

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Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

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