Hooded Thug or Innocent Sixteen Year Old

Five years ago on February 27th, a young man by the name of Trayvon Martin got shot after he had been in a physical altercation with neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman. This all started with a simple craving for sweets as Martin went to get skittles from his local 7/11. When he left he was being followed by Zimmerman until they eventually go into a fight and Zimmerman shot him on the grounds of self defense. CNN (http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/18/justice/florida-teen-shooting-details/) And the Guardian(https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/mar/20/trayvon-martin-death-story-so-far)

took different approaches in capturing this story, and used stacking, sourcing, and diction to alter the audience’s perspectives.

In the CNN article, the first thing you see is pictures of Zimmerman being injured, this includes scratches, wounds, bruises, etc. This along with the description of martin walking out of the store “the hood from his dark grey sweatshirt over his head” makes it seem like Martin started the fight and was a thug right off the bat.Martin’s image is further tarnished by the next quote “ he’d been there for seven days, after being suspended for the third time from Dr. Michael M. Krop High School in Miami, in this instance, for 10 days after drug residue was found in his backpack.” The stacking used in the beginning along with the pictures suggest that Zimmerman had a right to be afraid and therefore use self defense. As the article goes on it starts to talk about Zimmerman’s call to the police. In this, he asks the police if he should follow Martin and they reply “”OK. We don’t need you to do that.” This quote is pretty much the only bad thing against Zimmerman in this article, and it is almost hidden in the middle paragraphs. This stacking of quotes seems to hide the fact that Zimmerman was also to blame. Although stacking was the main tool of this article, diction, and picture choice helped the author show that Martin was more of a thug than once perceived, and that Zimmerman had a reason to use his weapon.

The Guardian chose a very different approach than CNN, we see a completely different view by just looking at the picture, a sunny memorial of where Martin got shot. This picture already shows the reader that this piece will be more geared toward defending Martin. Within the first paragraph we hear mentions of the NBA all star game and we hear the phrase “He carried a bag of Skittles and a can of Arizona iced tea for his little brother.” Talking about getting candy for his little brother right from the get go shows the reader he was a humane person and not a thug like the CNN wanted to portray. This stacking continues off the tone set by the picture. In the next paragraph the first word they use to describe Trayvon is “unarmed” this diction is a lot less harmless compared to the “hooded” description in the CNN article. As the article continues they compare the weights of the two men when talking about the fight “Zimmerman, weighing 250 lbs and armed, and Martin, weighing 140lbs and unarmed” and they feel the need to say unarmed again. From this far on in the reading, the diction, stacking, and pictures, favor Martin unanimously. As the article ends it shows a picture of Martin looks skinny, innocent, and happy with a boyish smile.

When you compare these articles, you would think these are two completely different stories. The authors purposefully do this so you can see this from only one perspective. If you looked at only the picture and first paragraph from the CNN article you would think Martin was a hoodrat, while if you looked at the first paragraph and picture from The Guardian, you wouldn’t be surprised if he was in choir. Both of these authors chose pictures and descriptions very precisely. For example The Guardian made sure to repeat the phrase “unarmed” over and over again to drive the point that Martin was harmless, compared to how CNN talked about his drug use. Without either article this story would seem very one sided, so to get the full story the audience had to see the facts from both sources. Although they may be stacked differently and with different views, these two are needed to show the whole story.

Like what you read? Give michael ritchie a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.