Trayvon Martin update: Story is now more covered than presidential race
The Project for Excellence in Journalism says press coverage of the Trayvon Martin case, simmering in social media and some websites for more than a week, exploded on March 17 to become the first story in 2012 featured more than the presidential race on top news outlets.
Of course, March 17 marked the release of 911 tapes which contradicted some facts disseminated by police -- they had said Martin's shooter, George Zimmerman, didn't know the teen's race, but he told the operator he was black -- and added details, including the screams of someone who abruptly stopped yelling after a gunshot.
According to the PEJ, different types of media outlets have focused on the case in different ways. On Twitter, there's mostly been outrage at Zimmerman and calls for justice, on cable news and talk radio discussion has focused on the state's laws for self-defense and gun control, on blogs the focus has fallen on race.
Just as predictably, the story has been a bigger focus on MSNBC, where the storyline of a black teen killed by a non-black person fits the channel's liberal sensibilities and one of its signature anchor personalities, Rev. Al Sharpton, is an adviser to Martin's family and has led rallies pressing for Zimmerman's arrest. Conservative-oriented Fox News has offered less coverage, focusing more on who Martin is and defending Zimmerman.
Last night, CNN also had interviews with a witness who claims to have seen the moment Martin was shot. But that person, whose identity was concealed, couldn't add much beyond saying Zimmerman didn't look injured after the shooting and there may have been two shots. Also on CNN, Piers Morgan had an interview with a new voice, Zimmerman's brother Robert, though he added little beyond restating the story his brother has already told police -- that Martin attacked him, noting that medical records will prove his injuries.
The channel also has a town hall meeting planned for tonight, hosted by Soledad O'Brien.
While listening to his story, I did recall a thought which has occurred to me before; what if Zimmerman, who says the fight started when he reached for his cellphone, inadvertently made Martin think he was reaching for his weapon instead? Might explain why a kid with no history of violence would go after a strange guy who is following him in an unfamiliar neighborhood.
Also, as Gawker points out, the effort to de-legitimize Martin by uncovering information which makes him look like a thug might involve a white supremacist who hacked into the teens social media accounts. Lovely.