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: