For the last few weeks, the most divisive story in America has been the tragic death of Trayvon Martin. On February 26, Trayvon, a black teenager, was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. Since then, the media has been a whirlwind of reports and opinions, and everyone has something to say or post about it.
To sift through the news reports, newspaper op-eds, retweets and hashtags, Facebook posts, and Tumblr tumbls, here’s our round-up of the widespread media responses to the death of Trayvon Martin:
Back on March 18, ThinkProgress posted “What Everyone Should Know About Trayvon Martin,” a bullet-pointed list of information about the case. It was many Internet users’ first introduction to the case, and the article has amassed more than 11, 500 retweets, 170,000 Facebook likes, and 2,466 comments.
In student media news, the Daily Texan, the school newspaper for the University of Texas-Austin, posted an extremely controversial political cartoon (pictured below) about media coverage in the Trayvon Matrin case in their March 27 issue. While Stephanie Eisner, the cartoonist, may have been trying to comment on yellow journalism in the case, it comes off as ridiculously racist.
Last week, mustachioed journalist and opener of famous empty vaults Geraldo Rivera took to Fox News to discuss Trayvon’s hoodie. He urged Black and Latino parents not to let their children go out of the house wearing hoodies because of the impression that white people have of them.
This, supposed Rivera, would then then lead to a tragedy like Trayvon Martin’s. Rivera said, “I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.” Even more than before, everyone hates Geraldo. He’s since apologized, once on Twitter and then on Politico
The hoodie has recently been taken up as a symbol for justice in the Trayvon case, and many people have posted pictures of themselves in hoodies on Facebook and Twitter to show their solidarity with the Martin family.
However, many have simply stopped at donning the hoodie. As Kelly McBride writes for ESPN’s Poynter Review Project blog, just posting a picture on Facebook does not change the world. This is slacktivism, an enduring term in journalism that has taken new meaning in the world of social media. Someone can just put a bumper sticker on their car, sign an Internet petition, or reblog a video, and believe that they’ve supported the cause. In reality, it is an easy replacement for substantial activist work, and does nothing but making someone feel good.
Finally, nothing can happen in America without 4chan, the uncensored Internet board, rearing its ugly head. Gawker reports that a white supremacist hacked into Trayvon Martin’s e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, and posted his findings to /pol/, the politics section of 4chan.
The hacker, user-named Klanklannon, put together four slides with information supposedly lifted from his e-mail and social media accounts. All of the slides tried to portray Trayvon as a black child delinquent. According to Gawker, “a slide titled “Trayvon Martin Used Marijuana Habitually,” features an exchange between Trayvon and a friend about getting high. Another slide, “Trayvon Martin was a Drug Dealer” features Facebook messages and photos that supposedly prove Martin dealt drugs, including a picture of Martin posing ‘aggressively with a large amount of cash in his hand.”
Gawker also received a screenshot of Trayvon’s G-mail inbox. It’s filled with e-mails about the SAT and college searches, a familiar sight for any junior in high school.