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April 01, 2012

Sunday Morning Open Thread

You've probably seen this by now, but NBC is doing an internal investigation over its editing of the Zimmerman 911 call.

NBC told this blog today that it would investigate its handling of a piece on the “Today” show that ham-handedly abridged the conversation between George Zimmerman and a dispatcher in the moments before the death of Trayvon Martin. A statement from NBC:

“We have launched an internal investigation into the editorial process surrounding this particular story.”

As a reminder, here's NBC's version:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.

And here's the actual portion of the 911 call:

Zimmerman: 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.

Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black. (emphasis added)

It's not obvious at all what they were doing here, is it? Nope, just cutting out some irrelevant filler.

I've seen a couple of stories where they've referred to the call as being "selectively edited". That phrase doesn't really mean anything, because the process of editing is, by its very nature, "selective". What they really meant was that the call was deceptively edited. And it was.

While we're on the topic of vocabulary words, another one to pay attention to in this case will be "whitewash". It'll come in very handy after NBC's internal investigation determines that this was an honest mistake made by a low-level staffer who has been suspended for two weeks without pay.

Webster's defines "whitewash" as "[exoneration] by means of a perfunctory investigation or through biased presentation of data", which is right in the NBC news organization's wheelhouse. There's no word yet from the AP or NYT stylebook editors as to whether it will be referred to as "white hispanic wash" in this case, though. We'll keep you posted.

I find this all terribly shocking, because NBC has never done anything like this before.


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posted by Andy at 07:55 AM

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