Readers respond: How well did the media cover the Zimmerman trial?

Public reaction remains strong to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. In a recent Monitor op-ed, Doug Spero decried what he saw as biased coverage of the case. Monitor readers on Facebook had strong views on the topic, too.

Phil Sears/AP
Civil rights lawyer and activist John Due is interviewed by a CNN crew on July 17 during sit-ins at the Florida state capitol in the wake of the George Zimmerman trial verdict. Some Monitor readers have been vocal about the media's coverage of the trial.

Even though George Zimmerman was acquitted in the death of Trayvon Martin more than a week ago, public reaction to this highly charged case remains strong. Race and other issues continue as a hot topic on social media.

Doug Spero, a mass communication professor at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C., wrote in a recent op-ed for the Monitor that he "couldn't believe the lack of balance in [TV news] coverage" of the Zimmerman trial.

We asked Monitor readers on Facebook how the media's coverage of the trial affected their perception of the case. One user summed up many of their sentiments well.

Jo-Dee Collins: "It didn't [affect my perception of the case]. It only affected my perception of the media."

Several readers spoke of what they saw as TV networks' push to increase ratings and profits.

Tim Irvin: "TV news media want ratings, because ratings mean profits. The best way they can do that is to sensationalize stories in a way that divides and conquers the masses, in a way that pits one half of ordinary people against the other. The elites – including media elites, corporate elites, political elites, and economic elites – can continue to stick it to the middle class as long as they can successfully get us to fight each other along the lines of race, gender, religion, and political party. They want us to hate each other – it keeps people fired up about current events, keeps them 'rooting on their side' and brings more money to those who already have lots of it."

Gerry Bulger: "It showed me that the media tried to create a race war to improve their ratings. Absolutely disgusting how all the 'news outlets' gave [Al] Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and [others] a pulpit to preach hate and intolerance."

Keith Vaglienti: "I can't say that [the media's coverage] affected my perception of the case or the media. Mainly because I don't have much faith in the media to begin with. … It is plain the media will lie to promote any agenda they support or simply to improve ratings so they can charge more for advertising."

Lee Woodward: "I would guess the American people were failed by the media because it was so overdone. Lots of other murder trials going on elsewhere – black on black [crime], crime waves in Chicago and other cities. These do not get national attention and this should not have either. Some, but not all, media intentionally fan the flames of racism to try to meet some agenda they may have."

Russell Allen Miller: "TV news has been showbiz since before Fox News came along, and I’m not sure if returning to an 'if it bleeds, it leads' philosophy would improve things. Fox News has made things worse by relentlessly distorting stories to fit into an ideological agenda. It is an equal shame that other networks are indulging in the same airheaded baloney with an opposite spin."

Other readers focused on what they see as the decline in the quality and unbiased integrity of the TV news media.

Symmi DeFrancesco: "The media is killing itself. No one trusts it anymore and the government either. It's a problem."

Gail Seaton Humbert: "I ignored it. It was their new O. J. Simpson trial. What I hated was how the world could be coming to an end and they still only would cover that trial. Grrrr!"

Gary Chavez: "Just proves a liberal bias!"

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