911 Tapes Ignite Trayvon Martin Case
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, joins other family members in the Miami Herald offices Thursday for a 90-minute interview. (Video)
The release of 911 recordings in the Florida shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin prompted an explosion of interest in the case over the weekend, with the Justice Department announcing late Monday that the Civil Rights Division and the FBI will investigate the killing, and many African Americans drawing parallels with their own experiences or with other cases receiving far less publicity.
The mention of the case in a Sunday conference call with the Rev. Jesse Jackson led the veteran civil rights leader to note the Chicago area police shooting in February of a 15-year-old autistic African American boy.
Jarvis DeBerry, columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, compared the case with that of Wendell Allen, "the 20-year-old Gentilly man shot in the chest by a New Orleans police officer during a March 7 raid to rid our streets of weed."
Others went back to Emmett Till, lynched in Mississippi as a 14-year-old in 1955, or to Amadou Diallo, shot at age 22 by New York police in 1999.
Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said, "Make no mistake: This tragic shooting represents the National Rifle Association’s vision for America. The NRA's vision is an America that looks just like Florida, where it’s easy for criminals and dangerous people to get, carry, and use guns."
Steve Inskeep, the co-host of NPR's "Morning Edition" who is neither African American nor an anti-gun activist, posted a photo and wrote on Facebook, "It brings to mind this vivid book by my colleague Michele Norris, which I saw in a bookstore while browsing — it centers on how she discovered her father, a black man, was once shot by a white cop."
Inskeep said his program would be covering the shooting this week. In fact, Judd Legum wrote Monday for thinkprogress.org, "Martin has merited coverage by the New York Times, the Washington Post, and USA Today. The story has been covered by all three broadcast networks and extensively on cable. But there is one outlet that has barely mentioned Trayvon Martin — Fox News.
Nor was the shooting covered on the Sunday talk shows, which stuck to their usual discussions of politics and policy.
Frances Martel mentioned a Saturday column by New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow in assessing media coverage Sunday for Mediaite.com: "Most of the media is crying neither racism nor murder, saying next to nothing, though given that the online uproar began in earnest over the weekend, the next week will provide many opportunities to bring the story to light," she said.
"As of now, however, the most vocal in bringing the story to light have been cable news tweeters like Blow himself, Touré, Goldie Taylor, and Roland Martin, among others. Al Sharpton has announced he is organizing a rally in support of Trayvon Martin. Many black commentators began using a phrase that I had never quite understood before to describe the situation: 'There but for the grace of God go I.'
"As for coverage of the matter on television, the TV Eyes television transcription database shows that CNN has been on the forefront of covering this story since March 10 — particularly Don Lemon on his broadcast yesterday. Among the non-CNN cable news networks, only MSNBC’s Al Sharpton, Martin Bashir, and Alex Witt, Melissa Harris-Perry, and Fox News’ Harris Faulkner having the distinction of reporting on the story at all. To date, the most thorough panel discussion on television about the matter appeared on Roland Martin’s Sunday program, Washington Watch, where Trayvon Martin’s parents appeared to tell their story."
The 911 calls were released late Friday.
"Gunfire and screaming can be heard . . .," Rene Stutzman and Bianca Prieto wrote for the Orlando Sentinel.
"In one call, placed by the shooter George Zimmerman, he actively pursues the teen before the deadly shooting.
" 'Are you following him,' an emergency dispatcher asks after Zimmerman describes Trayvon as a black male who was acting suspiciously.
"Zimmerman responds: 'Yeah.'
" 'OK, you don't need to do that,' the dispatcher says.
"The recordings were released after Trayvon's family spent two hours with city officials, listening to the calls that documented the 17-year-old's last moments alive.
" 'What you hear on that tape is shocking. It's riveting,' Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Trayvon's family, said after the group emerged from their meeting with officials late Friday.
"Police had previously refused to release the calls. Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood crime watch volunteer, has not been arrested and is not charged with a crime. He claimed the Feb. 26 shooting was in self defense."
Michelle Guido, the Sentinel editor supervising the coverage, said by email that "when the shooting originally happened, there was very little information on it, and as you probably know by now, it happened the same night as the [NBA] All-Star game here in Orlando so there was very little attention paid to it at that time."
But, she said, "some of the things we have done that have moved our reporting beyond others, is an exclusive, sit-down with the police chief and lead investigator on Friday, which was included in our Saturday story
"I believe we're the only news outlet that has taken the time to explain the law at the center of this, Florida's Stand Your Ground law.
"This is our Sunday story, which told a little more about Trayvon and the shooter George Zimmerman, and included how social media has catapulted this story to one of national importance."
The Miami Herald deployed reporter Frances Robles to the scene, though Orlando is 250 miles away. However, since Trayvon lived in Miami with his mother, Sybrina Fulton, the story became local, Managing Editor Rick Hirsch told Journal-isms. Trayvon was visiting his father, Tracy Martin, and his dad’s fiancée in Sanford the weekend he was killed. Family members came into the Herald offices Thursday for a 90-minute interview with staffers, including syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts Jr.
The editing of the video prompted some viewers to accuse the Herald of racial insensitivity when a reporter was shown asking whether Trayvon's favorite food was fried chicken, a question some social-media users alleged fed a stereotype. The news operation took down its five-minute version of the video and reposted a longer one that showed the mother volunteering first that fried chicken was among Trayvon's favorites.
Hirsch said the Herald distinguished itself with a Friday story that "put together contradictory statements from some of the witnesses about what they saw and what they heard." The news organization was also "able to put together a pretty illuminating portrait of Trayvon Martin and wrote "a very strong story off of the tapes."
The police said the cry for help came from Zimmerman. "But now," Hirsch said, "it sounds like Trayvon's cry for help."
- Genetta M. Adams, theRoot.com: What If Trayvon Was Standing His Ground?
- Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: What if Charlize Theron had adopted Trayvon and not Jackson?
- Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: The Trayvon Martin case.The MSM is finally noticing.
- Keith Boykin, bet.com: Trayvon Martin and the Vilification of Young Black Men
- Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post: Under ‘suspicion’: the killing of Trayvon Martin
- Ta-Nehisi Coates blog, the Atlantic: On The Police 'Investigating' The Killing Of Trayvon Martin
- Henry Pierson Curtis, Orlando Sentinel: 'Stand Your Ground' law: What's legal?
- Carolyn Edgar, CNN.com: Trayvon Martin, not George Zimmerman, was engaged in self-defense
- TheGrio.com: White House comments on Trayvon Martin case: 'A local law enforcement matter'
- Trymaine Lee, HuffPost BlackVoices: Trayvon Martin Case Recasts Century-Old Battle Lines For Local Activist
- Judd Legum, thinkprogress.org: All Major News Outlets Cover Trayvon Martin Tragedy, Except Fox News
- Dr. R. L'Heureux Lewis, ebony.com: Will there Ever be Justice in the War on Black Males?
- Demetria L. Lucas, essence.com: Real Talk: Trayvon Martin Isn't the First Victim, and Won't Be the Last
- Roland S. Martin, Creators Syndicate: An Admitted Killer Walks Free in Florida
- Jack Mirkinson, Huffington Post: Melissa Harris-Perry On Trayvon Martin Killing: Remember His Name (Video)
- Brother Jesse Muhammad blog, Houston Chronicle: Trayvon Martin: What is Black life worth in America?
- Darryl E. Owens, Orlando Sentinel: Here's why people are so angry over Trayvon Martin's death
- Amy Pavuk, Orlando Sentinel: Trayvon Martin: Shooter was 'reacting to the color of his skin,' mom tells TODAY show
- Leonard Pitts Jr., Miami Herald: Tragic teen shooting raises old fears, questions
- Bianca Prieto and Robert Nolin, Orlando Sentinel: Tensions still simmer in Trayvon Martin shooting case
- Dr. Pamela Reed, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education: Until Justice Weighs Down — Trayvon’s Story
- Frances Robles, Miami Herald: Shooter of Trayvon Martin a habitual caller to cops
- Allison Samuels, the Daily Beast: Where’s the Outrage Over the Killing of Trayvon Martin?
- Rene Stutzman and Bianca Prieto, Orlando Sentinel: Trayvon Martin shooting: Screams, shots heard on 911 call
- Rene Stutzman and Bianca Prieto, Orlando Sentinel: Trayvon Martin shooting: Gun that killed teen was fired once [March 20]
"In 2011, the digital revolution entered a new era," Amy Mitchell and Tom Rosenstiel wrote Monday in the overview of their "State of the News Media 2012" for the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.
"The age of mobile, in which people are connected to the web wherever they are, arrived in earnest. More than four in ten American adults now own a smartphone. One in five owns a tablet. New cars are manufactured with internet built in. With more mobility comes deeper immersion into social networking.
"For news, the new era brings mixed blessings.
"New research released in this report finds that mobile devices are adding to people’s news consumption, strengthening the lure of traditional news brands and providing a boost to long-form journalism. Eight in ten who get news on smartphones or tablets, for instance, get news on conventional computers as well. People are taking advantage, in other words, of having easier access to news throughout the day — in their pocket, on their desks and in their laps.
"At the same time, a more fundamental challenge that we identified in this report last year has intensified — the extent to which technology intermediaries now control the future of news.
"Two trends in the last year overlap and reinforce the sense that the gap between the news and technology industries is widening. First, the explosion of new mobile platforms and social media channels represents another layer of technology with which news organizations must keep pace.
"Second, in the last year a small number of technology giants began rapidly moving to consolidate their power by becoming makers of 'everything' in our digital lives. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and a few others are maneuvering to make the hardware people use, the operating systems that run those devices, the browsers on which people navigate, the e-mail services on which they communicate, the social networks on which they share and the web platforms on which they shop and play. And all of this will provide these companies with detailed personal data about each consumer."
The authors decided to release chapters on different ethnicities separately to give "each individual ethnic medium a singular focus."
In PEJ's "Innovating News in Native Communities," Emily Guskin and Amy Mitchell report, "American Indians and Alaska Natives typically live in more rural and isolated locations of the United States, areas that generally have waited longer for internet broadband access. Many tribal lands still have only very limited connectivity.
"As a result, many Native people have moved straight to mobile internet, accessing digital content through cellphones that do not require broadband connection."
- John C. Dvorak, PC Magazine: Newspaper Ad Revenues Are Slow to React
- Tim Giago, indianz.com: Newspaper business should take a look at past
- Staci D. Kramer, paidcontent.org: Pew: Twitter, Facebook Aren’t Moving As Much News As You Think
- Brian Stelter, New York Times: News, the Good and the Bad
- Peter Suciu, E-Commerce Times: Newspapers May Find Salvation in Mobile Apps
Republicans and other conservative word warriors appeared to have scored a victory Sunday in their quest to rechristen the health-care reform law, known as the Affordable Care Act, "Obamacare." The Washington Post's Sunday Outlook section front was dominated by the headline, "Will conservatives save Obamacare?"
"Obamacare" had mostly been used in Post headlines over columns by conservative writers, or placed in quotes. It was repeated endlessly during the Republican presidential debates, exceeded as an insult only by "Romneycare," used to describe the Massachusetts health-care law implemented under Gov. Mitt Romney, now a presidential candidate. For some journalists, resisting the term became a battle of wills against the constant GOP repetition. A few surrendered.
Liz Spayd, the Post managing editor, told Journal-isms Monday that the term is still considered pejorative in Post news columns. So did the Associated Press, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.
"we still avoid that term in the a-section, for the reasons you cite. but i'm forwarding your comment to the outlook editor in case he wants to respond," Spayd said by email. The Outlook editor, Carlos Lozada, did not respond.
New York Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said, "We do not normally use the term Obamacare in straight news contexts, since it's largely the term adopted by one side of the debate."
Jack Stokes of the Associated Press messaged, "In AP stories, Obamacare is generally confined to direct quotes. Otherwise, the term should be enclosed in quotes when used elsewhere." He gave this example from a weekend story by Connie Cass previewing the upcoming Supreme Court case on the new law:
"All four GOP presidential candidates now promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which they call 'Obamacare.' Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum calls it 'the death knell for freedom.' "
Joe Knowles, associate managing editor for editing and presentation at the Chicago Tribune, supplied the Tribune's style guidelines for the term:
"Obamacare. Note the lowercase 'c.' News stories should avoid use of the term except in direct quotes; allow columnists and editorial writers greater license. The formal name of the law is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, which frequently is shortened to the Affordable Care Act."
Henry Fuhrmann, the Los Angeles Times' assistant managing editor overseeing the copy desk and style committee, said:
"We treat 'Obamacare' as a political descriptive. On the news side, we take care to use the term only in direct quotes, not as shorthand for the healthcare law passed in 2010. When we cite 'Obamacare' in news stories, we often note that it is used by critics in a derisive, derogatory or pejorative manner.
"Most of our references to 'Obamacare' — in nearly 150 print items since 2008 — have appeared in editorials, guest opinion pieces and letters to the editor."
As reported in this space in January, President Obama has attempted to turn the slur on its head. "They call it Obamacare. I do care, that’s right," the president said at a campaign-style stop in St. Louis. "The question is, why don’t you care? You should care, too. Some of these folks [are] making central to their campaign pledge to make sure that 30 million people don’t have health insurance. What kind of inspiring message is that?"
CNN's Jim Acosta, left, covers Rick Santorum campaigning last week in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Video)
"Mitt Romney scored a landslide victory in yesterday's Puerto Rico presidential primary," David Green reported Monday for NPR's "Morning Edition." "Returns showed him easily beating Rick Santorum, his closest rival. Romney got much more than the 50 percent of the votes needed to win all 20 of the delegates at stake in Puerto Rico. Both men campaigned in the Caribbean territory last week. And for each of them that meant having to take a stand on the hot-button issue of statehood. Doing that may have sealed Santorum's defeat."
From San Juan, NPR's David Welna added: ". . . Asked by a local newspaper about his support for Puerto Rican statehood, a cause many local Republicans embrace, Santorum said Puerto Ricans would first have to learn to speak English.
". . . That offended many Puerto Ricans, who correctly pointed out that in fact there is no law requiring that English be spoken as a condition for statehood. Even Puerto Ricans fluent in English, who are perhaps a fifth of the island's four million inhabitants, thought that while Santorum's stance may please English-only supporters back on the mainland, it was a surefire way to lose yesterday's primary."
Meanwhile, Maureen Dowd, writing Sunday in the New York Times, zeroed in on Romney's Mormon religion in a way that others have shied away from.
"Just as Romney did not step up immediately after Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke 'a slut,' " Dowd wrote, "he has yet to step up as the cases have mounted of Jews posthumously and coercively baptized by Mormons, including hundreds of thousands of Holocaust victims; the parents of the death camp survivor and Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal; and Daniel Pearl, the Jewish Wall Street Journal reporter murdered by Al Qaeda in Pakistan. (His widow, Mariane, told CNN she was 'shocked.')
". . .Matthew Bowman, who wrote 'The Mormon People,' says Mormons 'have a hard time understanding why people from other religions find this so offensive. Mormons don’t think of these people as being made Mormon unless their spirit accepts the Gospel. They just think they’ve given them an opportunity. Mormonism is wildly optimistic.' "
- Aaron Blake, Washington Post: Santorum says Fox News "shilling" for Romney (March 13)
- Esther J. Cepeda, NBC Latino: Opinion: Santorum’s off-the-cuff problem
- Chris Cillizza, Washington Post: What Rick Santorum’s Puerto Rico sideshow tells us about his campaign
- Mary C. Curtis, Washington Post: Romney loves Puerto Rico but Sotomayor, not so much
- Pew Research Center for the People & the Press: Romney Leads GOP Contest, Trails in Matchup with Obama (March 14)
- Geraldo Rivera, Fox News Latino: Santorum, and The Battle for Puerto Rico
- Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Santorum needs Gingrich in the race
- Albor Ruiz, Daily News, New York: Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney fail Puerto Rico taste test in bid for GOP primary win
- Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star: The Republican Party’s odd quarrel with reality
- Bob Ray Sanders, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Texas may be important stop for GOP presidential candidates
- John S. Wilson, Politic365.com: Rick Santorum’s Puerto Rican Sunburn
"I went on a walk in Manhattan the other day with a young woman who once had to work these streets, hired out by eight pimps while she was just 16 and 17. She pointed out a McDonald’s where pimps sit while monitoring the girls outside, and a building where she had repeatedly been ordered online as if she were a pizza," columnist Nicholas D. Kristof wrote Sunday in the New York Times.
"Alissa, her street name . . . is particularly scathing about Backpage.com, a classified advertising Web site that is used to sell auto parts, furniture, boats — and girls. Alissa says pimps routinely peddled her on Backpage.
". . . Backpage accounts for about 70 percent of prostitution advertising among five Web sites that carry such ads in the United States, earning more than $22 million annually from prostitution ads, according to AIM Group, a media research and consulting company. It is now the premier Web site for human trafficking in the United States, according to the National Association of Attorneys General. And it’s not a fly-by-night operation. Backpage is owned by Village Voice Media, which also owns the estimable Village Voice newspaper."
According to Daniel Fisher of Forbes, Backpage issued a response to another such critic, Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, on Feb. 17:
"Taking down Backpage ads would have zero impact on the trafficking Mr. McKenna says he is eager to stop. As Forbes shows, his claim that Craigslist has 'eradicate[d]' such advertising is not true. Anyone can see erotic ads on Craigslist today. And arrests linked to Craigslist ads have continued all over the country, showing censorship doesn’t work.
"A Columbia professor reported this month that 61% of prostitutes advertise on Craigslist, with Facebook gaining fast. These ads are on thousands of web sites, where users use search engines to find them. Unlike Backpage, the largest search engines even let users instantly locate the closest teen escorts, watch explicit videos and read escort reviews. Searches for 'teen escort' produces tens of millions of postings including every city in America. Against these numbers, Backpage is a rounding error. . . ."
Rush Limbaugh, the nation’s most popular talk host, is still being battered by liberal activists and others for calling Georgetown law-school student Sandra Fluke "a slut" and "a prostitute" for her advocacy of mandatory insurance coverage for contraception, Paul Farhi wrote Monday for the Washington Post.
"Dozens of advertisers have declared Limbaugh’s program a no-go zone, at least temporarily. This has left his syndicator, Clear Channel-owned Premiere Radio Networks, to fill some of the commercial breaks on his program with freebie public-service ads.
"The fallout appears to have less to do with listeners' reactions to his derogatory comments — there’s no evidence that Limbaugh’s audience has abandoned him in the past two weeks — than with advertisers' nervousness about being associated with something 'controversial,' which is precisely what political talk radio strives to be."
- Peter Lauria, Reuters: Huckabee vs Limbaugh: Cumulus aims at Clear Channel
- Here we go again: Patrick Foster of USA Today published "Nine Twitter accounts every journalism student should follow," none of them by a person of color. As veterans know, USA Today was founded in 1982 as a model of diversity. Media critic Amy L. Alexander responded in a Facebook posting: "Really, USAT? No sign of Richard Prince or Charles Blow or the Maynard Institute? So.....we are to infer that no journalists of color or orgs devoted to improving INCLUSION in the media is worth being followed by J students today? Lovely."
- "It took almost a month — and a full-scale lobbying campaign — but the obituary for philosopher Ruth Barcan Marcus finally ran in the New York Times on Sunday," Sandra Fish wrote for the "She the People" blog on the Washington Post website. ". . . This isn’t the first time the Times obituary decisions have been questioned. 'Women rarely die, it seems,' a reader wrote Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane in 2010."
- Gerrick Kennedy of the Los Angeles Times is the National Association of Black Journalists' Emerging Journalist of the Year, NABJ announced on Monday. "[An] 'NABJ Baby,' Kennedy is now an award-winning journalist and blogger. He began at the Los Angeles Times in 2009 as an intern and contributed to both the metro and online entertainment teams as part of the paper's Metpro training program. He is currently a music reporter for the paper where he covers pop, R&B/soul and hip-hop."
- "Chicago police took two members of the media into custody Saturday, including an NBC Chicago photographer," Zach Christman reported for WMAQ-TV. "Photographer Donte Williams and WGN Reporter Dan Ponce were detained as they attempted to cover the story of a 6-year-old girl who was shot and killed. . . . The hospital apparently called police, complaining of trespassers."
- The New Mexican in Santa Fe called out a state tourism marketing campaign that sent out a casting notice saying that only "Caucasian or light-skinned Hispanic" folks need apply. "Hearing that term brings to mind a vision of casting agents holding up paper bags next to people's faces to ensure they can pass," the paper editorialized Friday. "We don't know, of course, who made it into the shoot and how New Mexico will be presented to the world once the campaign is unveiled. But really, light-skinned only? What were they thinking?"
- Syndicated Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. discussed the crisis of mass incarceration Thursday at a Miami bookstore with Michelle Alexander, author of "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness." In January, Pitts announced he was so impressed with the book he would give away 50 copies that he would pay for himself. He received 12,000 entries.
- In a profile of Amy DuBois Barnett, Ebony editor-in-chief, Johnson Publishing Chairman Linda Johnson Rice says, "What was important to me about Amy is that she brought more of a voice to Ebony. We had drifted a little bit. She built a strong perspective without losing the core of Ebony, which is about aspiration." Erin Chan Ding's article appeared Monday in the Chicago Tribune.
- "I recently got an email from someone who asked me when was I going to get my own show. And I said, 'Well, I already have my own show on TV One,' " Roland Martin said in the "Perspective" segment Sunday of his "Washington Watch" show on that network. "And they said, 'No, no, no, no, no. I mean one CNN or some other network — you know, a real show.' And it got me to thinking, 'Why is it that African-Americans somehow don’t believe that a show on a Black cable network isn’t a "real" show?' "
- At 38, Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC's newest talk-show host, is transforming herself into a media conglomerate, Gail Shister wrote Monday for TVNewser. "In addition to her academic and TV work, she is an author ('Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America'), a columnist for The Nation, and a well-traveled public speaker. . . . She’s never seen her own show, she says, because she'd focus on 'weird things' like her animated hand motions and her lisp. Then she’d try to edit herself on the air and her authenticity would be lost, she says."
- "Janet David, a vibrant labor and civil rights champion who became the Guild's first African-American staff representative, died March 11 of complications from a massive stroke suffered five weeks earlier," Janelle Hartman reported for the Newspaper Guild Thursday. "She was 79. . . . David joined the Guild in 1956 when she was hired as a cashier in the advertising department of the Amsterdam News, a Harlem-based weekly. . . . In addition to her work in the advertising department, David wrote an arts and entertainment column for the paper called 'Janet’s Spotlight.' African-American leaders and artists performing in New York regularly stopped by for interviews or simply to pay a courtesy call on David."
Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site BugMeNot.com provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.
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