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This time around, it is the media that is to blame

Posted on July 31, 2013 by Taber Times

Unless you were living under a rock, you are well aware of the recent American criminal case in which George Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder and/or manslaughter for shooting unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin.

Splashed all over major American and Canadian news outlets for weeks, the aftershocks are still being felt of both Americans and Canadians divided on whether the acquittal was just or not.

Division of opinion is not a bad thing per se if that division of opinion is  based on weighted facts on both sides of the argument spread over several segments.

But if that opinion is based on slanted 30-second sound bites inundated by questionable media practices, that type of division is squarely the fault of an institution that is predicated on trying to give as filtered view of an issue from the rhetoric as possible.

MSNBC, FOX News and CNN all had at times had their biases shine through with MSNBC concentrating coverage on Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law and the state’s sketchy race-relation history.

Fox News focused on Martin’s questionable past and statements from the defence.

Even the most agreed-upon ‘unbiased’ news outlet in CNN had at times having reporters ask baiting questions where it seemed the interviewer’s mind was made up regardless of how the respondent answered. Outlets have been forced to correct misinformation with NBC going as far as firing a producer who creatively edited a 9-1-1 call that made the defendant look like his confrontation was racially motivated.

This bias has helped fuel the racial and political divide that is emanating throughout North America.

Some outlets were using outdated photos by numerous years to make Martin look younger and more svelte than he actually was when forming the confrontation debate.  It harkens back to the Time Magazine cover of O.J. Simpson, which was altered to make him look more menacing in his murder trial back in the 1990s.

They are all sad examples of pandering to what sells both with viewers and advertisers, as opposed to what is right in trying to find balance, as much as possible in a story.

In the end, only Zimmerman himself knows what was in his heart that faithful day when he pulled the trigger, but it seems most major news outlets were pursuing his innocence or guilt instead of the facts.

It is perhaps prudent the public sifts through all the information from all the media outlets instead of just one to gather facts.

It is also prudent upon us, as the media, to try our hardest so our own opinions do not slant the way we cover events apart from personal column pieces.

Perhaps it is too lofty of a task to do completely right down the line, but nevertheless one we should endeavour to do as closely as possible and let the public make an educated decision for themselves.

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