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Images Most Commonly Used Aren't the Most Recent

"First it was the hoodie. Now photographs used in the media's coverage of the Trayvon Martin killing are the subject of widespread debate, as supporters of both the slain 17-year-old African-American and the shooter, George Zimmerman, say selectivity by some news outlets in which photos they use is proof of bias," Dylan Stableford wrote Wednesday for Yahoo News.

"The initial image of Martin — released by his family and widely used by media outlets covering the racially charged case — appears to show him at a younger age.

"On Wednesday, the website Business Insider came under fire for posting a pair of what it claimed were more recent photos of Martin. The site later removed the photos after it was revealed that one, taken from a neo-Nazi website, was not Martin.

"A second, purportedly showing Martin with what appear to be gold teeth, was thought to be taken from Martin's now-closed Twitter account. Numerous media outlets, including the Drudge Report and Yahoo News, used the photo in coverage of the case.

["The photo was picked up this week by Yahoo! News and the Drudge Report, among others," Weiner wrote Wednesday. "It has also been posted to various online forums and blogs, under headings such as 'the real Trayvon Martin.' "]

"The Daily Caller published the same photo along with 152 pages of what the site claims were Martin's tweets. (If they were, the Twitter messages prove that Martin was a pretty typical high school male, preoccupied with girls, sex and getting out of class early.) . . ."

In a more extensive examination Friday for the Poynter Institute, Alicia Shepard noted that the commonly used photo of Zimmerman is also problematic.

". . . The dominant photo of Martin shows him 13 or 14 years old, wearing a red Hollister T-shirt. Other photos, none of them recent, depict a young Martin in a youth football uniform, holding a baby and posing with a snowboard. He is the picture of innocence," Shepard wrote.

"The most common photo of Zimmerman is a 2005 police mugshot. He is 22 in the photo, which was taken after he was arrested for assaulting an officer. (The charges were dropped.) He looks unhappy, if not angry.

"The contrast — the two photos are often published side by side — has led to criticism that news media have tilted the story in favor of the 17-year-old victim and against the 28-year-old man who shot him.

" 'The images used are clearly prejudicial to both men,' said Kenny Irby, Poynter’s senior faculty for visual journalism and diversity. 'If those are the repeating images, then we continually reinforce prejudice and negative emotions. We never get to appreciate the life experience or further context of either individual.'

"Although more recent photos are now available, there are legal and contextual arguments against using them," Shepard continued.

"Take the newest Zimmerman photo. Last Friday, Orlando Sentinel reporter Jeff Weiner got a photo from Zimmerman’s last employer. In this one, he is smiling and wears a tie and jacket.

"The Sentinel obtained the photo through an unnamed source, but the paper hasn’t given anyone else permission to use it. It has, however, made the photo available to clients of McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. . . ." 

Focus of Trayvon Story Changed With the Platform

"Almost immediately after the February 26 shooting of Trayvon Martin, the conversation about the case began simmering on Twitter," the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism reported on Friday. "But it was nearly three weeks later, on March 17 — after the release of 911 tapes — before the story exploded on Twitter, on blogs and in the mainstream media to become the first story of the year to get more coverage than the race for the president.

"As attention to the story surged, the focus within these three parts of our media culture varied greatly, according to a special report by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

"On Twitter, the conversation has focused on sympathy for the slain teenager and expressions of outrage at the killing. On blogs, the emphasis has been on the role of race in the highly charged case. In the mainstream media, the Trayvon Martin controversy was heavily a cable news and talk radio story. And there, the primary discussion has focused on two politically oriented issues — gun control laws and the Florida Stand Your Ground statute, which gives citizens the right to use deadly force when they believe they are being threatened.

"Moreover, the Martin story has been a much bigger story on MSNBC, whose talk show hosts are liberal, and a much smaller story on Fox, whose prime time lineup leans conservative. The focus of the discussion differs as well. Conservative talkers paid the most attention to questions about who Martin is and to the defense of the man who pulled the trigger, George Zimmerman. Liberal hosts focused primarily on gun control and the Florida law."

AP Decides Not to Mention Zimmerman's Skin Color

The Associated Press has decided not to mention the skin color of Trayvon Martin's killer, George Zimmerman, noting that Zimmerman's race and ethnicity — his father is white and his mother Hispanic — are "complicated." Zimmerman has been identified as white, as Hispanic and as a "white Hispanic."

According to AP spokesman Paul Colford, Tom Kent, deputy managing editor for standards and production, told AP staffers on Wednesday:

"Since Martin was black and many are casting the story in racial terms, Zimmerman’s race and ethnicity are relevant. And they’re complicated: Zimmerman’s father is white, his mother Hispanic. Zimmerman himself appears white to many and the police say he’s white; his family says he identifies as Hispanic (and therefore, they say, he can't be a racist). It would not be a contradiction to call him 'a white Hispanic,' since white is a race and Hispanic is not, but some readers might see 'white Hispanic' as confusing. At one point in the story, we called him 'a light-skinned Hispanic.'

"After discussion, our decision was to avoid any AP characterization of his skin color (re 'light-skinned Hispanic,' for example, how light is light-skinned?). We decided to stick to repeating the facts: white father, Hispanic mother. Those who think Zimmerman’s precise skin color is important can draw their own conclusions from his parentage or look at the photos. We’re applying the approach that precision is better than characterization."

Journal-isms posed the question to Colford after Linda Williams, senior editor/news at the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., asked in an email, "Why has the Associated Press stopped identifying George Zimmerman by his race? The stories now say that he has a 'white father and a Hispanic mother.' Leaving aside the dubious implication that his having some 'Hispanic' heritage has anything to do with how he reacted on that tragic night, what exactly does that mean. Hispanic is not a race.

"So that leaves me with the question as to what exactly is the AP's agenda here? It doesn't seem to have any journalistic justification. Is the AP trying to lend support to the dubious idea that some Hispanic heritage shields him from any questions about whether he had any racial motivation?"

Williams was not satisfied with AP's response. "This answer does not address the disparate treatment of the race and ethnicity of the two people," she wrote in an email. "It also does not address the race of Zimmerman's Hispanic mother. Trayvon Martin, like the majority of people designated as African Americans, also has a 'complicated' racial and ethnic identity. He is most likely mixed race, yet, according to this explanation, the label 'black' is all you need to know. Interesting that AP is willing to easily characterize Martin's race, but not Zimmerman's.

"Whether Zimmerman is a racist is not really the important question. The relevant question is whether police and prosecutors looked at the two people involved and gave one a white racial privilege. That is did they easily accept Zimmerman's version of events without a proper investigation because he was a white man who claimed he was menaced by a black person.

"By erasing Zimmerman's race, the question becomes whether AP has, whether inadvertently or not, taken sides with the people who would like to have the question of a possible racial privilege in taken off the table."  

Trey Buchet, El Now, Pocho Ñews Service: National organization revokes Zimmerman’s Latino credentials (satire)  

Suzanne Gamboa, Associated Press: Florida shooter's race a complicated matter

NBC's Black Journalists Offer Personal Testimony

"The shooting of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin by volunteer neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman has ignited a national conversation about prejudice, justice and the treatment of young African-American men," according to an NBC News description of a segment on Wednesday's "Rock Center" program. "NBC News anchors, correspondents and contributors discuss the feelings that Martin's death sparked and relate their experiences covering the story."

Some of the remarks:

David Wilson, executive editor, theGrio.com:

"If I go to a convenience store, I find myself not having my hands in my pockets. Or if I go into a drug store and I leave the store— without buying anything, I feel anxious. — so I— I have to buy something because I don't want anybody to believe that I actually stole something."

Tamron Hall, anchor, MSNBC:

"I am followed in department stores. I have walked in — dressed professionally or dressed in jeans and I have walked into stores and instantly security is on my back."

Touré, contributor, MSNBC:

"I see moments when people are clearly clutching, cringing, 'I'm near a black person who I don't know,' even if I'm in a suit. You know, this sort of automatic clutch of the purse or what have you or, you know, just a little cringe. . . . But we know that just wearing a suit does not change anything. You know, they're not really looking at the suit. They're not really looking at the hoodie. They're looking at the skin."

Ron Allen, correspondent, NBC News:

"You know I think I'm very fortunate that I don't have to think about race and racism every day of my life. But I — but it's there in the back of my mind— on a lot of occasions. At work, in the course of my work. 'Is this happening to me because I'm black?' But I sometimes find it a burden. I sometimes find it tiring to have to deal with — these issues. You know, I— I sometimes wonder, 'What would it be like if I didn't have to worry about (LAUGH) racism and — and — and race? And you could just live your life as — as a normal person?' "

Lester Holt, anchor, NBC News:

"I used to work in Southern California. And there were certain perceptions that were formed about police and how they perceive African Americans. I never had a problem. But why was it when I'd be driving late at night through a posh neighborhood and I'd see police behind me, my palms would get sweaty, I'd get that feeling in the pit of my stomach, because I formed a perception. I formed a perception that they were a threat because I was an African American."

Hall:

"I remember my father, who was a master sergeant, telling my brother when he first started to drive, 'If you're pulled over, don't take your hands off that steering wheel. You look forward until they tell you what to do. You answer, "Yes, sir,' 'No, sir." Don't make any sudden movement, because we don't want the police officer, who may be a good guy, we don't know. But we don't want that officer to believe there's a black man in that car who's making a sudden move and I've gotta take action.' "

Tony Dungy, pro football analyst:

"When I was coaching, I used to have a list of things — that I talked to my players about and said, 'If you do this, you're gonna avoid 99 percent of the trouble. Don't be out after 1 in the morning, OK. Don't be around guns. Don't be around drugs and alcohol. Don't drive your car 25 miles over the speed limit. If you do those things, you're going to avoid 90 percent of the problems.' And that's — that's common sense. And that's the tough thing about Trayvon's case. None of that was involved, you know. And trouble still found him. And that -- that's the disappointing thing."

Wilson:

"You know we — we have this rap of being brutes — and — and thugs and all these negative things. But I challenge anyone who has that impression of a — a black man or young black men to go to some of the toughest neighborhoods in America, find a black kid standing on the corner, a black teen standing on the corner. Have a real conversation with him and you'll see that he's just a kid hiding his insecurities. He thinks the world is after him. And the world has given him a good excuse for that."

No Correction for Statement That Trayvon Dialed 911

Chicago's ABC-owned WLS-TV has taken down a video of one of its reporters declaring that Trayvon Martin had dialed 911 — a statement that found its way around social media — but will not issue a correction, Janet Hundley, assistant news director, told Journal-isms on Friday.

"The reporter misspoke," Hundley said of Paul Meincke's March 26 report. It was George Zimmerman, the shooter, who dialed 911.

Pamela D. Reed, an associate professor at Virginia State University, was among those who saw the report on the Internet. "According to this ABC 7 Chicago report, TRAYVON MARTIN DIALED 911 'BEFORE HIS DEATH,' " she wrote in a Facebook posting. "This story ran on Friday evening. Amazingly, it is buried at the 2:40 mark of this segment," she said, posting the video. "I'm wondering why this is not 'Breaking News.'"

"This is the relevant part of the report by ABC 7's Paul Meincke:

" 'Trayvon Martin made a 911 call shortly before his death and the FBI is attempting to determine if that recording, which captured Zimmerman's voice in the background, can be audio-enhanced to more clearly hear what was said, and that may very well be the key to what happens next.' "

Hundley said by telephone, "We took the action that we thought necessary to correct it, which was to remove it from our website and to report correctly on the next newscast on the air the correct information."

Meincke's report is still circulating in cyberspace, however, with no correction attached. It now exists as an audio report. 

". . . once the report was issued by ABC 7, the story took on a life all its own. Which is why, I explained, a correction might be in order," Reed messaged Journal-isms.  

Audra D.S. Burch, Miami Herald: Trayvon case has become pop culture phenomenon  

Kelvin Cowans, Tri-State Defender, Memphis, Tenn.: Trayvon Martin & '‘The third shot heard around the world’'  

Mary C. Curtis, Women's Media Center: Trayvon Martin Case: Do We Communicate More, Listen Less?  

Kevin Powell, the Guardian, Britain: Trayvon Martin and the fatal history of American racism  

Richard Prince with Cash Michaels on "Make It Happen," WAUG, Raleigh, N.C.: Media coverage of Trayvon Martin case (Segment 2)  

Akiba Solomon, ebony.com: An Open Letter to Joe Oliver  

Solange Uwimana, Media Matters for America: How The Right Deals With A Problem Like Trayvon Martin  

Touré with Piers Morgan on "Piers Morgan Tonight," CNN: Piers Morgan Defends Zimmerman Interview (video)  

Juan Williams, Wall Street Journal: The Trayvon Martin Tragedies

Sportswriter's Layoff Reversed at Philadelphia Inquirer

John Mitchell, a sportswriter for the Philadelphia Inquirer targeted two weeks ago as one of 40 journalists laid off or taking a buyout, will not be laid off after all, Bill Ross, executive director of the Newspaper Guild/CWA of Greater Philadelphia Local 38010, told Journal-isms on Friday.

"A newsroom employee volunteered to leave and he was recalled from potential layoff," Ross said. "I'm very happy for John. Mitchell was hired in November to cover the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers. Gregory H. Lee Jr., president of the National Association of Black Journalists, said in a March 15 statement that Mitchell's departure would leave the Inquirer's sports department with one full-time black reporter.

In another development, Kia Gregory, a general assignment reporter at the Inquirer, said she was leaving to join the Metro staff of the New York Times, covering Harlem. Gregory joined the Inquirer nearly four years ago.

Mike Armstrong reported for the Inquirer Friday, "The sale of The Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com will likely be announced Monday, according to several sources.

". . . The buyers of Philadelphia Media Network Inc. are a group of local investors, led by George E. Norcross III, executive chairman of Conner Strong & Buckelew, a South Jersey insurance brokerage, and Lewis Katz, former chairman of Interstate Outdoor Advertising."

Ex-Editor Says HuffPost's Black Voices Aren't Always

"I’m a former managing editor at The AOL Huffington Post Media Group," Rebecca Carroll wrote Friday in the Daily Beast as part of an essay on the plight of black women in the corporate world.

"Last year, I was tasked with relaunching an all-black news and opinion Rebecca Carrollsection for the site. I had been running GlobalBlack, the joint venture launched by Arianna Huffington and former BET cofounder Sheila Johnson; after The Huffington Post merged with AOL, the decision was made to replace GlobalBlack with a relaunch of a similar AOL web page, called Black Voices.

"The goal was to assemble a team of black writers and editors who would write, research, and edit stories about things that interested them as individuals. I was excited about the mission. Others weren’t. Shortly after I’d been hired, I asked a white supervisor how to respond to reader inquiries about GlobalBlack. She said: 'Ignore them! No one cares!'

"It came to sum up my experience to a large extent. Although we did assemble a great team of black writers and editors, the more I tried to guide the mission forward — proposing thought-provoking stories and headlines that countered stereotypes and truly represented black voices — the more clear it became that this was bad for business. An in-depth multimedia profile of Anita Hill to mark the 20th anniversary of the landmark case was deemed not buzzy enough. A provocative black media figure I suggested as a regular contributor was dismissed as 'gross.' My idea of ignoring Black History Month, which many black Americans feel has become nothing more than a diluted and packaged ritual, was deemed unacceptable, given the advertising dollars it generates.

"I’m not saying this is racist — a business needs to stay in business. As Erica Kennedy points out, 'A corporation exists to make money, not to salve societal ills.' But still.

"In the days leading up to the relaunch of Black Voices, an executive decision was made to have white journalists at The Huffington Post write most of the stories featured on the first day. The voices were white. Mine is not."

"News Corp. is assembling the required rights from pay-TV carriers and sports organizations, said the people, who requested anonymity because talks are private. While a final decision to move forward hasn’t been made, the company is considering converting its Fuel action-sports network to the new channel, two of the people said.

"With a national network, Fox would join Comcast Corp's. . . . NBC Sports Network and CBS Corp.’s . . . CBS Sports Network in taking on the dominant ESPN. News Corp. last year secured rights to the Pac-12 Conference and [Big 12] Conference games and owns 20 regional sports networks. The company in October won TV rights to soccer’s World Cup in 2018 and 2022."  

". . . The big picture may include less sports coverage, a decadelong trend throughout the country. Television news directors at many stations have scaled back sports coverage — even sports departments — particularly in the 10 and 11 p.m. slots.

". . . The trend reflects the ease with which sports fans now find scores and more elsewhere. They are watching games on their phones and online, and don’t have to wait until 11 p.m. for results, according to a communications instructor at Buffalo State College."

"In hearings on Wednesday, the courts' conservatives seemed poised to issue a ruling in June that would invalidate the entire law. And that would have a major impact on African-Americans. An estimated seven million of the 30 million who would eventually get health insurance under the law are black.

"While much attention has been focused on the law's requirement that people purchase insurance, its expansions of Medicaid (the insurance program for low-income Americans), is perhaps just as important. Under the law, because of expansions of federal funding for Medicaid, an estimated 16 million low-income Americans, many of them black, would get coverage. (Under the new law, Medicaid would cover most families whose income is below $29,000 per year.)"

Meanwhile, about 100 attendees at the National Association of Black Journalists' annual Media Institute on Health: Health Policy and Health Inequities heard Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius at the White House on Friday.

Sebelius was part of a briefing on health. Additional panelists included Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin; Nadine Garcia, HHS deputy assistant secretary for minority health; Jocelyn Frye, deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy and director of policy and special projects for first lady Michelle Obama; Dr. Cara James, director of the Office of Minority Health, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services; and Dr. Grant Colfax, director of  the office of National AIDS Policy.  

Yanick Rice Lamb, BlackAmericaWeb.com: Health Reform: What’s at Stake for African-Americans  

Trudy Lieberman, Columbia Journalism Review: Health Reform and the Supreme Court: Day Three  

Ari Shapiro, NPR: 'Obamacare' Sounds Different When Supporters Say It [March 31]  

Short Takes  

Jeanne Fox-Alston, vice president of the Newspaper Association of America Foundation, is leaving on April 6, she told colleagues on Friday. Fox-Alston manages the foundation's diversity and Young Reader programs. The reason? "The American Press Institute of Reston will cease independent operations after 66 years and combine with a unit of the newspaper industry’s main trade group, the Arlington-based Newspaper Association of America, under a merger approved by the two organizations’ boards in January," Paul Farhi reported last week for the Washington Post. Caroline Little, NAA president and CEO, said in a statement, ". . . The new foundation will operate differently going forward in order to maximize resources to the greatest advantage. There is no intention to abandon all the efforts of the past, but there is a need to function in a manner that is more relevant in today's times."

"The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved the appointment of Maurice Jones, publisher of The Virginian-Pilot, to be deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development," Bill Bartel reported Friday for the Norfolk newspaper. The Senate approval came six months after President Obama nominated Jones for the post.

"The past month has been filled with more bad news for the Oprah Winfrey Network, which has struggled since its launch to build an audience. A fifth of its staff was laid off and Rosie O'Donnell's high-profile talk show canceled," Toni Fitzgerald reported Thursday for medialifemagazine.com. "But now come signs that the troubled network may finally be catching hold. During the first quarter of the year, ratings saw significant growth. OWN's primetime average rose 16 percent among adults 18-49 during first quarter, according to Nielsen, to 140,000, two-thirds of them women."

"Knicks star Jeremy Lin had lunch with the former ESPN employee who was fired last month for writing a headline about Lin that included a racially insensitive word," Anthony Rieber wrote Wednesday for Newsday. "Lin met with Anthony Federico, 28, of Connecticut, during a Knicks off-day on Tuesday. According to Federico, the two discussed their shared Christian faith and Lin's knee injury."

"Former weekend anchor and network correspondent Martín Berlanga is no longer with Univision. His departure has been confirmed, Veronica Villafañe reported Thursday for Media Moves. "An insider tells me he cleared out his desk yesterday morning. Moments earlier, he had sent out a tweet promoting his latest story for the network."

"John Buffalo Mailer, son of legendary author, journalist and Village Voice co-founder Norman Mailer, had just stepped forward to read a statement written by a woman he identified as Alissa," Joe Pompeo reported Thursday for capitalnewyork.com. "The statement described how as a minor she was abused by men who forced her into prostitution and marketed her through the adult services section of the website Backpage.com, which is owned by Village Voice parent company Village Voice Media."

"The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns attacks and threats against several journalists covering the aftermath of the March 22 military coup in Mali that ousted President Amadou Toumani Touré," the Committee said on Friday. ". . . Soldiers loyal to junta leader Captain Amadou Haye Sanogo detained and handcuffed French journalist Omar Ouahmane, a reporter with France's state-owned radio broadcaster Radio France, on Wednesday night, according to a CPJ interview with the journalist and an Associated Press report."

"A median of nearly two-thirds of adults (65%) across 133 countries and areas Gallup surveyed in 2011 say the media in their countries have a lot of freedom, essentially unchanged from the median of 67% found in 2010," Cynthia English and Lee Becker reported Thursday for the Gallup Organization. "These views still vary worldwide, ranging from a low of 23% in Belarus to a high of 97% in Finland."

Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (www.mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.

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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.