A Framing Racialized Discourse: Media Coverage of Killing Trayvon Martin Story

Shui Leung Cheuk, Kannis

Media is a mirror of society. Media do provide significant influence over public understanding and opinion. However, media report story with racial bias. In this blog post, as Teun van Dijk explains the concept of “ideology infuses language”, I will provide a depth view of Martin and Zimmerman story; analyze how the media focused on racialized discourse coverage of the killing story by framing Martin and Zimmerman’s character, to shape the (mis)understanding of public.

(Picture from http://mattbredmond.com/category/black-panther-party/)

Trayvon Martin, a 17 years old African American high school student was shot by a off-duty neighborhood watch captain in Sanford Florida in 2012. The neighborhood watch, George Zimmerman, 28 years old mixed race Hispanic, shot the teen and claimed in self-defense. Zimmerman was judged acquittal but judged of second-degree murder and of manslaughter charges in August 2013.

Framing allows the media to present a story in a particular way, emphasizing specific aspects (Hirji, 2014). Media use the mono-angle (racialize discourse) to report the story of Zimmerman, to frame Zimmerman’s character as a fundamental racist and a violent white murder. According to a Washington blogger, Erik Wemple pointed out NBC News edited the dialogue of Zimmerman’s comments to a police dispatcher on the night he killed Martin. in cutting pieces. NBC reported the viewers heard Zimmerman say, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.” However, the full version is, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.” “OK, and this guy, is he black, white or Hispanic?” “He looks black.”

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(Picture from People.com)

On the other hand, media emphases on Martin’s identity, to frame Martin’s character as an innocent, black American victim. In the early investigation, People Magazine’s April 9, 2012 cover, which featured an old-age photo of Martin, look young and innocent and headline as “An American Tragedy.” More than that, Martin was framed as “unarmed teen”, “is killed in a Florida neighborhood”, “was fatally shot” and “How a chance encounter turned deadly”. We may question, it this cover represented fair judgment and accuracy? Kevin Z. Smith examines the cover with two uncompromising tenets of a responsible press. “Martin didn’t look like their respective images, …, with other photos at their disposal, elected to use ones that skewed reality and failed to provide a balance of truth about these suspects and victims, and that meant intent to deceive and establish an agenda.”

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(Picture from People.com)

Apart from that, the mainstream media, including CNN, CBC, BBC and New York Times (etc.) focus on reporting Martin’s family, how his parent respond, to frame the public emotion. The photos (as showed above) and headlines like, “Justice system ‘didn’t work for us,’ Trayvon Martin’s father says”, “Trayvon Martin’s dad recalls mild-mannered boy”. As the result, it shapes the public awareness and sympathy. Slogan like, “We are all Trayvon Martin” and “Trayvon is my neighbor” spreading all around.

In this case, media emphases on the racial difference of Martin and Zimmerman, and I believe that this mono-angle is the main reason to shape and lead to the issue of racism intentionally and drastic conflict among the black and the white community.

CBC News (2012, March 28). Trayvon Martin’s dad recalls mild-mannered boy. CBC. Retrieved from July 6, 2014, http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/trayvon-martin-s-dad-recalls-mild-mannered-boy-1.1199392

CNN Library (2014, Feb 22). Trayvon Martin Shooting Fast Facts. CNN U.S. Retrieved from July 6, 2014, from http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/05/us/trayvon-martin-shooting-fast-facts/

Ford, David (2013). Justice system ‘didn’t work for us,’ Trayvon Martin’s father says. CNN. Retrieved July 6, 2014, from http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/18/justice/trayvon-martin-parents/

Helling, Steve (2012). George Zimmerman Prays for Trayvon Martin, Says Friend. People Magazine. Retrieved July 6, 2014, from http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20582259,00.html

Hirji, Faiza (2014). The Colour of Difference: Race, Diversity, and Journalism in Canada. McMaster University.

Rocke, Ethan (2013). Reporting The Trayvon Martin Story: Media Ethics And Discourses On Race. University of Oregon.

Smith, Kevin (2012). ETHICS. Quill Magazine. Retrieved July 6, 2014, from http://digitaleditions.walsworthprintgroup.com/display_article.php?id=1088550

Wemple, Erik (2012, December 6). George Zimmerman sues NBC over Trayvon Martin reports. The Washington Post. Retrieved July 6, 2014, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2012/12/06/george-zimmerman-sues-nbc-over-trayvon-martin-reports/


Is Media Ignorant On Some Racist Issues?


Today, we tend to realize that the power of discourse in society cannot be underestimated. Racist talks are very evident in every day conversations. However in contemporary Western cultures talking openly and making racist comments is a taboo.Over the last decades racism has been increasing. People have their own thoughts when it comes to people with different cultures. W e comes across such behaviour, that is based on racism almost everyday. People have various thoughts for certain cultures. For example a large population tend to see Muslims as terrorists, some people believe that Black people are criminals, Jews are always bad. These are believes of people not based on any fact but only on their instincts.


picture taken from:Muslims debate.

In some cases the media tends to turn to particular individuals within the community, and give them the position of spokespeople. One random person chosen by the media is seen to represent the whole community an its opinions.The media only focus on getting a story and giving their judgements on it. When people of colour or aboriginal are given the chance to speak, their words are often surrounded with quotes or even preceded with alleged.Media too is responsible for putting negative valuation on people of colours well as aboriginal people. The media is increasing to be more judgemental rather than providing the true side of the story.


Picture taken from:living at the edge.

Donald Sterling who is an American business,former attorney as well as the owner of Los Angeles Clippers Professional basketball franchise of the National Basketball Association. Donald Sterling recently made many racist comments on the Black, but the media never brought this story into the lime light. It was only after TMZ got a clipping of his remarks and he was considered racist. However the media did not find it important to mention about his racist views, which was probably intentionally done. No one seemed to care including National Media. Sterling also paid nearly $3 million for settling federal charges, since he had tried to drive out Black and Hispanic renters out of his buildings. This news was not covered at all. Was the media sleeping?What does this tell about media? Again this brings us again to the thought that media is corrupted, it makes mole hills out of mountains and on the other hand such a racist behaviour by Donald Sterling was kept away from people.


Picture taken from: Donald Sterling investigated by NBA as Clippers owner denies being a racist

Racism and the Media.

Donald Sterling’s Racism: Why have the national media snoozed until now?

Fashion and Feminism.


When we think about fashion and its relation with feminism, several questions tend to make way in our brain. A very significant question being that is fashion feminist? This question has been posed over again and agin in the past decades and is continuing to be debated about every now and then. However, the fashion industry has always been criticized for focusing on the view that a woman’s appearance is her most valuable asset. But this statement is not acceptable by many women in the world who go with the view that fashion is a method of individual empowerment.


Picture taken from: Fashionably informed: fashion $ feminism 101.

Feminism emerges in the late 1960s as well as early 1970s. This was the era when women started rejecting their traditional feminine roles. Women were seen as an object and disrespected for many decades.Today Feminism amy have different meaning for different people but the basic fact remains that women are equal to men and deserve to be treated in the same manner. Feminism strongly suggests that women should be valued as human beings and not just visual objects.


Picture taken from: Fashionably informed: Fashion $ Feminism 101.

Fashion and feminism go hand in hand. However fashion strongly agrees with the fact that it should really not matter what we look like and again it contradicts this statement by telling us how to dress like women. However the issue of the 21st century is that todays teens as well adults, have a very hyper-sexualized idea of how a women should look. It is easy to blame fashion for what has happened to the perceptions of femininity in the past years. Some decades back power suits were the female armour rather tan Bum lifts or fake eyelashes.


Picture taken from:Ask Allie: Feminism and Fashion

However every individual has their own thoughts. I feel clothing is basically a part of a women’s image or her personality, a woman should not be judged by her appearance. A woman can be intelligent and as well as a leader if she is capable of carrying herself with confidence.Fashion and feminism have long been part of each other.

Fashionably Informed:Fashion $ Feminism 101.

Fashion and Feminism – How Do They Fit Together?

Is fashion a feminist issue, after all?

The Judgemental Views of Media.

Amninder kaur

The Media, radio,television as well as cinema have now become the arenas through which every individual receives most of their information about the world as well as entertainment. The media assist the majority of the population in knowing what significant events are taking place around the globe.Apart from this the media offer powerful interpretations of hot to understand these important events.The media makes use of language and images to create meaning about the environment around us.Through various methods of representation the media offers us explanations. This enables people to make sense of what is going around the world. However, in carrying out these activities the media tend to give privilege to some issues and devaluate others and thus the audience end up obtaining judgemental views.


picture taken from: Media influence:stop it or use it.

However, sometimes Media tends to exaggerate very small issues to a great extent.An example would be Paul Henry, who is a New Zealand based radio and television broadcaster. He is no stranger to controversy.Henry was suspended from his job because in a recent clip he cracked a joke on the name of New Delhi’s chief minister Sheila Dikshit, he stated her name as “Dick Shit” and the media judged it as being racial because Sheila Dikshit was an Indian and the news created the misunderstanding that Paul Henry was being racist. He clarified his statement in an interview saying that it was his job to entertain audience, he apologized but yet he was brought into news by media for being racist. His intentions were not what the media stated them as. Henry broke his silence later in an Australian Programme. Paul Henry was blamed of being racist by the media. The media turned a mole hill into a mountain for which Henry faced a lot of issues, even ended up losing his job due to the pressure the media had imposed on this news.


Picture taken from Fire Paul Henry activism update, Boycott TVNZ Advertisers campaign gearing up.

We usually see many comedians or hosts making fun of people and the media would just ignore them but since Henry had previously made some comments, his words were blown out by media to a great extent. The media destroyed the image of Paul Henry and he ended up losing repeat from people which he deserved. The audience tend to follow the media and every word they say. The media influences the audience, be it with their own personal judgements and the audience believes the word of the media as the last word.


Racist discourses and power in the media.

Indians protest Paul Henry’s new media jobs.

Fashion a Feminist issue?

Amninder kaur
July 3.


Picture from Is fashion a Feminist issue.

Is fashion a feminist issue? This has long enough been a debated topic for many years. However, there are some sexist reasons for this. One significant answer to this question is that females in our society are very much seen as ornamental, they are highly valued for their looks, the way they dress, the way they carry themselves rather than on their accomplishments or success.But the fact yet remains that women have a lot more choice and leeway in fashion as compared to men. Women have a wider range of colours, fabrics, jewellery, make-up as well as hairstyles.We tend to observe that entire categories of clothing’s are available to women while men have limits to their wardrobes.If fashion was considered to be a language than the women would have a very much wider vocabulary than the men.

It is certainly correct to say that fashion is a form of expression in which women have more freedom than men. one may oppose this view but this comes as a fact that fashion and style are primarily a women’s art form. In my view this statement is treated as trivial because women too are treated like trivial.


Picture taken from: Fashion is a Feminist issue.

Many questions occur in our brain as we think of fashion and feminism.There was an Israeli Fashion Week named “Equal/Unequal” which was related to the feminine emotions such as compassion, care and love. The fashion week was to give respect to women as individuals. This fashion Show was for the recognition of the feminine emotions. This show was a platform to draw attention to the society about the exploitation of women.
Fashion, has been associated with women, even though it may be dismissed as trivial but on the other hand it shapes how we are read by other people on the levels of gender, race as well as class.The way we are read by others is the way we are treated in the workplace whether we are respected or how well we are paid. History, fortunately has demonstrated how feminists can harness fashion and use it for political purposes too.


Picture taken from:If the Clothes fit: A feminist take on fashion.


Fashion is a feminist issue.

Is there such a thing as feminist fashion?

If the clothes fit: A feminist takes on fashion.