In my last post, I discussed how nationally-covered murder trials like the George Zimmerman trials are the modern day “bread and circuses” to distract the populous from the present woes that grip the nation. As I mentioned in the article, we cannot blame the media solely for this because at the end of the day it is up to the individual to decide how they become informed.
However, we cannot fall into the trap of solely blaming the individual, either. It is easy to dismiss people as being apathetic or lazy. It is easy to forget that for a majority of Americans, TV news is how they stay informed.
It is important to keep in mind that being an informed citizen is not easy. It requires time, resources, and even money. People have responsibilities that take up all three and there is very little left to devote to alternative sources outside of TV to stay informed.
Yes, mainstream cable news stations show what gets them the most ratings because their parent company is often times more concerned about profits than anything else. At the end of the day, they are businesses and we are consumers.
However, the media drives the narrative in this country. The George Zimmerman trial wasn’t about civil rights; it wasn’t about race relations in America. It was about a guy who wanted to be a cop and took matters into his own hands when he thought he saw suspicious activity.
Should Zimmerman have ignored the police and followed Trayvon Martin? No. His role should have ended after phoning the police. Now, he has to live with killing a 17-year-old boy, which won’t be easy even if it was in self-defense. Still, there is no evidence that race was a major factor in his decision to act.
There are many cases like this one that go unheard of nationwide, but this case was easy for news sources like CNN to push the narrative of it being an issue of race relations.
CNN has done much more harm than good with the Martin/Zimmerman story. They have done irreparable harm by taking the narrative over race to such an extreme that they were able to elicit a desired response and then turn around and say, “see, we told you so.” It was sensationalism to its worst degree.
The power of influence mainstream media sources like CNN have is something the media often abuses. While the majority of Americans still rely on television news sources to stay informed, cable news stations have a responsibility to provide citizens with information they need, not just speculative conjecture just to boost ratings.
I am not saying that no attention should have been given to the George Zimmerman case. It raises the question over how laws like Florida’s Stand Your Ground law are written and enforced. It highlights the structure and purpose of the judicial system, but at the end of the day, there were far more important things to cover that took a backseat to nonstop coverage of the case.