18 July 2013

Beating A Dead Horse "For Trayvon" Pt. 1

Controversy continues over motive of Patterson Park beating

By A.F. James MacArthur Ph.A.L.

Have you had enough of George Zimmerman or Trayvon Martin yet?

On Sunday when I wrote about a group of Baltimore teenagers who beat up a man in Patterson Park, I really didn't feel like doing another story about the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman trial aftermath. Not because I though there weren't important lessons to be learned, or meaningful discussions to be had. Because there actually are. But since virtually a million outlets already had stories about the case, out of respect to my readers, I figured I'd back off a bit.

After all, you didn't come here to read stuff stuff you can easily read anywhere else.

Open Source Intelligence

v. re·port·edre·port·ingre·ports v.tr.1. To write or provide an account or summation of for publication or broadcast: report the news. 2. To relate or tell about; present: report one's findings. See Synonyms at describe.
3. To carry back and repeat to another: reported the rumor of a strike.

On Sunday night, a reader made me aware of a "reported" assault on a Hispanic man. The incident was supposedly in retaliation for the controversial Florida verdict. The initial claim was a group of Black teens in jumped the man, and as they beat him down, they told him "this is for Trayvon [Martin]."

After doing basic research a brief was filed. I attempted to outline, what seemed at the time, to be a pretty shocking story. In a city with hundreds of murders and shootings per year, for an assault to be considered newsworthy, there has to be something a bit unusual or different about it. A group of gang bangers delivering a racially motivated beating definitely fit this criteria.

Within 24 hours the story was seen by thousands of people from around the world. In fact, it quickly became the most read Baltimore Spectator piece, in a long, long time.

But it seemed as if the media might have missed it. A whole day passed before The Baltimore Sun decided to even acknowledge the incident having taken place. In their original article, crime reporter Justin George fills in many of the details missing from my initial account.

Eventually the story gained the attention of national media. But was it because it was first reported here on this blog? Not hardly. George's story quickly went viral, and he eventually wound up on national TV discussing it. It's too bad we've since learned the primary thrust of his story appears to be totally incorrect. But well get back to that later.

On Twitter, I expressed disappointment. George should have at least acknowledged that the story was first reported here. But according to reporter Carrie Wells, -- not the pretend TV detective -- of The Baltimore Sun, putting a story on an internationally recognized blog like The Baltimore Spectator, is not real 'reporting.'

Or is it?

Although now a well known reporter for a major metropolitan daily newspaper, Ms. Wells was once a novice journalist. Back when Wells was a journalism student at University of Maryland, and her current audience had no clue who she was, I actually followed a bit of her work. 

Her zeal and excitement towards journalism encouraged me about the future of the craft. At a time when I'd just about lost all faith in the direction the press was going, Wells made me think there was hope.

It's kind of funny, but apparently as a student, Wells was well aware of my non-reporting at The Baltimore Spectator, as well.

The Baltimore Spectator, breaking news & first to cover stuff since 2009. Even  novices noticed.

Riding High On The Horse

At first, when none of mainstream media picked up, or even seemed to have an interest in the story, I honestly was a bit surprised. If for nothing else, the story (or what seemed to be the story), had all the appearances of the kind of sensational fodder media thrives on. But this would soon change.

Sun staffers gabbed with great glee and excitement about all the sudden attention "their story" gathered. First The Drudge Report picked it up, then George even got to be a guest on Fox news.  

Baltimore Sun reporter Justin George, spreading truth to the masses.
But as Baltimore Sun staff reveled in the recognition received for such a captivating story, their reported version of events began to slowly unravel.

In an interview with WMAR ABC 2's Brian Kuebler, Baltimore Police Detective Angela Carter-Watson said, "our investigation is basically saying that there is no Trayvon connection.  This incident is again, an isolated incident."        

Four days after first appearing on The Baltimore Spectator, three days after The Baltimore Sun reported it, and pretended not to have first heard of it from us, George reluctantly relents that the "for Trayvon" claim could be bogus. 

If this whole episode was good for nothing else, at least it showed us what "real reporting" ought to look like.

Involved in media since 1991, community activist, independent journalist, and entrepreneur, A.F. James MacArthur has grown used to getting no respect.

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A.F. James MacArthur -- American patriot & lover of liberty.

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