Friday, September 30, 2011

Jaime Zapata Case Study

Originally posted at the Future of Journalism.


In the case of the murder of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, agent Jaime Zapata the media had adequate coverage. It is actually surprising that this Latino man wasn't stereotyped in the way that other Latinos in the news may be. This could be partly due to the fact that he was part of the American enforcement team, but either way, this is a good example of the media doing fair coverage of a Latino.
A headline from one of Fox News' blogs read "Who was Jaime Zapata? Hero Remembered." In a report done by ABC News investigations go further with a headline that reads, "Random Act or Ambush? Feds Probe Shootings of U.S. Agents in Mexico." The only controversial headline and story that I came across wasn't from a big media outlet, but from a blogger for "Truth About Guns" who writes, "What Was Murdered ICE Agent Jaime Zapata Doing in Mexico," which speculated any affiliation that he could have had to the drug cartel.
Recent news from Houston Chronicle Blog about this includes a Border funding bill that was named after Jaime Zapata being passed through the House panel. This is a situation where the media can actually be commended for their coverage of this man. It was like he was given the same coverage that a white man would have received.
At the risk of sounding racist - it seems like to an extent the media covered this story like they would had if he had been white. Of course the circumstances are different and the news coverage within the articles did include the fact that he was a Latino, but the headlines for the most part didn't mention him as a Latino, and that's may actually be considered a good thing, the media focusing on the fact that a human life was loss and not focusing on what the ethnicity of the human life was. Unfortunately, the only news and media coverage I have to go by are the headlines I read online and a few of the Youtube videos I saw from news organizations, I did not see the news coverage live on television from when it first happened, and maybe if I had I would have seen something negative in the reporting.
Specifically I watched ABC News' Good Morning America video on Youtube in which Zapata was reported about and it was called "Jaime Zapata Shot and Killed; Mexico for Spring Break, Bad Idea?" I think that that was the most negative coverage that I saw - mostly because it suggests that people shouldn't go vacation in Mexico for Spring break due to what happened. The reporter, Brian Owens, spoke of Zapata as if he was an American (which he was an American, but also a Latino). There was footage of girls drinking and screaming and lots of dancing and alcohol. Then they say that all the spring break hot spots are far away from where the shooting occurred - so why even bother mentioning it?
As news representatives we learn that all stories should be reported equally, in the sense that it shouldn't matter the color of the person's skin the way that the story is reported should be universal. There shouldn't be more focus on a white person's death or something heroic a white person does - just as there shouldn't be more focus on a crime committed by a black or Latino person.

This is the video and during my oral presentation with my group we discussed how terrible this video was and what a bad job was done in the reporting:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Future of Journalism: Casey Anthony Case Study

Originally posted at

Written by Nikky Raney

Casey Anthony is the most hated person in America and the way the news media covered her trial as well as her life in general didn't help the people in our society think highly of her. CNN, MSNBC, FOX, ABC and the rest of the televised news media tried to be objective by interviewing prosecuting attorneys as well as defense attorneys, but the look on the faces of those reporting and the tones in their voice showed that they had an opinion and the opinion was not favorable.

The print media was not much better where the blogs were overtaking the online news sites and the papers and magazines didn't paint her in a favorable light either, and Newsweek even did an article after the fact that suggested that she could be placed in the same category as OJ Simpson as someone who got away with murder. There was also an article in Newsweek titled Did Casey Anthony Get Away With Murder? With a title like that it's hard to not have a biased opinion.

Is the reason that so many people hate her due to the media coverage that was done of her? Probably. Very few people it seems actually went out and did their research, but even those that have done the research (like myself) don't have favorable opinions of her.

The media let it be known that the 22-year-old got a tattoo reading "Bella Vita" meaning Beautiful Life, and by getting that while her daughter was missing it makes it a bit confusing as to why she thought her life was beautiful if her daughter was missing and probably dead. As the aforementioned article stated:

"Thirty-one beautiful days of parties, new boyfriends, and 'hot body' contests. Thirty-one beautiful days without her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee Marie."

That paints a picture already that makes the reader feel an unfavorable way towards Anthony. So what was bad about it?

Clearly it was bad that every single person that reported about it basically thought she was guilty.There was nothing being reported that would suggest that she didn't do it. There was not any occasion where I watched, read or listened to a news source that didn't hint toward Anthony deserving a guilty verdict. Hell, once the verdict was reached that she was proven not guilty of anything other than four counts of lying to police the news media was outraged and once jury members began to be contacted and spoke out saying that "not guilty doesn't mean innocent."

ABC News online posted a piece called Casey Anthony Juror: Jury Sick to Stomach Over Not Guilty Verdict. Within that article included the interviews with jurors:

"'I did not say she was innocent,' said Ford, who had previously only been identified as juror No. 3. 'I just said there was not enough evidence. If you cannot prove what the crime was, you cannot determine what the punishment should be.' "

And by using phrases such as "surprising guilty verdict" like so many sources did, it just shows so much bias, but what did the news media do that was good?

The news media interviewed people who could give both sides - sort of. There were more interviews done with people who thought that she was guilty and of the interviews with people who didn't believe she was guilty a majority of them were with men who said she was "attractive." There was even speculation that the reason she got off was due to her looks and her gender, and maybe even the color of her skin.

What could have been done better would be to get more interviews from both sides and using less adjectives that would suggest that the verdict should have been guilty. Less emotion from the anchors that were covering the stories and basically people needing to be more objective and just putting the facts out there no matter how difficult that actually is.

In the future we as media representatives should try to keep our own personal opinions out of it and try to make sure that we can keep a straight face when there's a camera put in our faces or when there is someone reading our articles, unless of course it is a column or an editorial.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Paul Simon - The Sound of Silence 9/11 Ground Zero

Ten Years Later, It's a New Game

By-Matt Marino-Contributing Writer/Football Reporters Online/Pro Football NYC

As a kid growing up in Brooklyn, New York, I’d go up to the roof every July 4th for the fireworks, look to the left and the Towers were the first thing in sight. I’d be on my way home from school, driving towards Manhattan and they were the first buildings to come into view. Exiting Giants stadium from the upper tier, they were the first buildings you saw as you looked back towards the East. And when you came up out of the subway anywhere in the city and lost your sense of direction for a couple of seconds, you could always look up, find the Twin Towers and know exactly where you were. Growing up here, they became a compass.
The City’s sports teams did their part in the aftermath of 9/11. Then NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and MLB commissioner Bud Selig did the right thing and cancelled a weeks worth of games. But, it was also the right thing to do by resuming play a week later. The right thing because it was something people around New York City needed.
Following the 9/11 attacks, the city and the people of the city were shocked, hurt and exhausted. I remember listening to then New York Giants and New York Jets coaches, Jim Fassel and Herm Edwards, explaining that the scope of what happened did not set in until they drove by the commuter rail stations in New Jersey and Long Island respectively (where each team would practice) and see the same cars in the same parking spots and that’s when it hit them that those people were not coming back. It was also when they realized that their coaches and players needed do anything possible to help heal a city.
In the days after the attacks, athletes from the New York area teams began visiting the first responders at Ground Zero. Whether they handed out bottled water or just visited family members, who had lost loved ones, it was important they were there. They did not do it out of obligation to the team they played for, but because they were part of the community of New York City, representatives of the people of the city. Professional athletes that were playing for New York felt a new connection to the city, and its fans.
How we experience sporting events in this country changed that day. When you go to a stadium now, there is a good chance you will need to walk through a metal detector, there are mandatory bag checks, armed military personnel, and the Department of Homeland Security has trained teams on how to protect their stadiums against acts of terrorism. You will also see more American flags in stadiums displayed by fans than prior to the events of 9/11. There is now a seriousness to the national anthem and there certainly will be this Sunday. Video boards scan the fans, crowds cheer and chant USA as the camera locks on to a firefighter, police officer or a member of the Armed Forces - all things that were not a usual occurrence before 9/11.
Some people disagreed with the decision to resume professional sports after 9/11 but I recall the role the games that the New York sports teams played during that fall. Mike Piazza won the first game played in New York City after the attacks with a dramatic 8th inning home run. The Giants and Jets won their first games on the road, but were treated as the home teams with signs of love for New York visible across the stadiums in Kansas City and Foxborough. The Jets, being urged on by New York City Fireman Ed Anzalone, “fireman Ed”, were able to make the playoffs. The Giants played the first football game at home following the attacks and showed what a team and stadium of 80,000 people can do to brighten the spirits of a city.
And Even though the Yankees lost in the 7th game of the World Series, they gave New Yorkers three of the most dramatic nights in sports history with a first pitch from the President of the United States and back-to-back nights with game-tying ninth inning home runs and extra inning wins. All teams did this while showing their support by wearing the hats of the FDNY, NYPD and PAPD during their games.
The Jets and Giants were some of the first athletes to get to Ground Zero after the attacks and by doing so, demonstrated to others watching that, if these professional athletes are down there helping, maybe I can do something myself to help. It also gave the players an idea of what they meant to the fans of New York, and how much they were looked up to.
Those teams provided a place for people to gather and escape from what they were going through – if only for a few hours, it was still needed. Fans assembled in large numbers at stadiums around the city, all places that were deemed terrorist targets at the time. Sports gave complete strangers, who were in the same dilemma, a connection, and it helped keep memories alive of loved ones and acted as a form of therapy for others.
For the 10th anniversary of 9/11, with the NFL set to have its own pre-game ceremonies throughout the league, the Jets and Giants are involved in the largest tributes around the league. The Jets will don hats on the sideline with the FDNY insignia on them and will have the FDNY, NYPD and PAPD bagpipers perform Amazing Grace on the field. The stadium lights will be shut off at halftime for the start of another tribute created by 9/11 family members. The Giants will be playing in Washington – the site of the attack on the Pentagon on 9/11. And if Justin Tuck can play, I’m sure he will be wearing a New York Giants fireman helmet as he comes onto the field. The ceremonies commemorating 9/11 will be especially poignant for both teams. Although there are few players and coaches still associated with the Jets and Giants that were on the teams ten years ago, both teams still represent New York City. This Sunday will give everyone a sense of enjoyment, a coming together, something positive to share with one another for a couple of hours during a difficult time - the same thing that sports accomplished in the months following the attacks in 2001.
On this Sunday, we will be reminded of the significance of sports, not just as something to enjoy but also as a way to remember the past shared with family and friends. As my friend Mike Modafferi, the son of Rescue 5 Battalion Chief Louis Modafferi who died on 9/11, told me “Sports were something I could feel good about, it was a way of being close to him and keeping his memory alive because we both got so much enjoyment out of them. One of the reasons I love sports is because my father got me into them. When I go to games now, I think about being there with him.”