Don't lose sight of the facts

April 7, 2012

Bruce Hetrick [March 26 column] included a paragraph which seemed to demonstrate what many professional journalists decry in the social media. Statements, and innuendo, based on unknown “facts:” “When Zimmerman called 911 to report this “suspicious” character, the dispatcher told him to wait for patrol officers and not give chase. Zimmerman gave chase. Then he shot Martin dead. He claimed self defense and the cops let him off.” (italics mine.)

According to a local radio show, it was said that evidence now showed that the physical altercation took place beside or near Zimmerman’s car. If that is the case, then surely the use of the term “Zimmerman gave chase” is wildly inaccurate and provocative.

Almost equally provocative is “cops let him off.” A more objective closing might have read, “Officers on the scene released Zimmerman pending a complete investigation.”

If the original version of the story is true, certainly Zimmerman should be put away. However, inaccurate and provocative reports to the public will make justice more difficult to achieve. This is what leads to protest marches by people who, unfortunately, rely on the Hetricks of the world to give them accurate, honest information.


Fred McCarthy

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