thatssoproblematic says: In reference to the Sid Bedingfield quote, isn't it possible that the backlash against CNN's coverage of the George Zimmerman case is in and of itself racially motivated? We're talking about a station that covered Jodi Arias and Casey Anthony just as much, but it's only now that they're catching flack for covering trials? Of course, CNN's coverage has been very poor, but I can't help but feel as if the largely white mainstream journalism community doesn't see why the GZ case warrants coverage.
» SFB says: I strongly disagree with race being the root cause of the backlash in this case. For one thing, the thing that got them talking was Egypt: Sid Bedingfield’s comments were in direct response to Jay Rosen, a NYU professor and very prominent critic of CNN, saying that he had given up on the network entirely after spending a long period of time criticizing the network for numerous reasons. The Zimmerman thing is only the latest example of a long line in Rosen’s case. And while Bedingfield’s quote criticized the tabloid treatment of a case rooted in a racial issue, Rosen’s criticism didn’t touch this at all—in fact, his point was rooted in the fact a pretty major story, the Egyptian coup, was getting downplayed in the corner while the Zimmerman coverage continued. (The fact that CNN has a sister network it could throw the Zimmerman coverage to, HLN, is also a factor here.)
I think the Trayvon case is an important one and deserved the surfacing it received, but beating people over the head with the story, like CNN is, does nothing but damage the value of the conversation we have about it. It turns a case about real issues into another Casey Anthony case, a case a lot of people I know actively ignored because of media oversaturation.
It forces people with skin in the game and real things to add to the conversation to tune out. And it does a disservice to all the things that need to be said about the case. That was Bedingfield’s point—that CNN isn’t giving a sensitive story the care it deserves by treating it like Jodi Arias 2.0. And to me, that’s a significantly more important criticism to be made here—one, by the way, that courtrooms could solve in large part by getting rid of the cameras. — Ernie @ SFB
If I were sitting in the courtroom with pad and pen, no one would notice or care. The pen may be mightier than the sword — and a picture may be worth a thousand words — but video cameras alter reality. Their very presence changes the people and events they seek to capture. And, just to keep those cliches rolling, although seeing is believing, what we project for others to see is influenced — and reality is altered — by the fact that a camera is recording that projection.Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker • Arguing against the usage of cameras in courtrooms, particularly in high-profile cases such as George Zimmerman’s trial. Another great point in this: “Meanwhile, the notion of the public’s right to know every detail of what is essentially a show trial suffers a paucity of veracity. If our concern were truly to better understand the machinations of the judicial system, as some have argued, we would record and broadcast all trial proceedings rather than only the ones that involve key elements of modern tabloid storytelling, namely sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll — and race.”
CNN has always been willing to chase a popular story, but it has also balanced those ratings grabs with an equal sense of public service. The network spent enormous amonts of air time and money on important coverage that was unlikely to draw a big audience (and we often had the ratings to prove it!). Under the Entman test, CNN never reached tabloid status in the past. And for the record, I don’t think it has now either. But I wonder if the Zimmerman coverage marks a turning point.Former CNN executive Sid Bedingfield • Writing a criticism of CNN’s decision to cover the Trayvon Martin case over the situation in Egypt. “In this case, however, I’m tempted to agree with Jay Rosen, who believes it’s time to give up on CNN. I want to add a bullet point to his list of complaints,” he continues. “Can we all agree that responsible news organizations should tread carefully when covering a story that evokes such strong memories of our nation’s racial history?” Again, this is a former CNN executive, a guy who worked at the network for two decades, criticizing the network’s own coverage.