A few weeks ago, I mentioned that the Trayvon Martin shooting case in Florida dominated our incoming e-mail and phone calls. The national media had just started reporting on the story, so we expected that we’d receive large volumes of reader feedback.
Then things got quiet. Until last weekend, that is, when The Post ran a piece about newly released evidence in the case. But it wasn’t the story that bothered readers, it was the photograph, which was of a young-looking Trayvon Martin, taken years before he was killed at age 17.
Readers complained that this was unfair, especially when placed next to the mug shot of an older-looking George Zimmerman, and accused The Post of being biased toward Martin.
We received, however, a pretty typical explanation from our photo department as to why it seems all the photos of Martin depict him as a young teenager.
Initially after the shooting in February, Martin’s family provided photographs to be used in the media, a standard practice. These are the photos readers see in the paper — photos given to the wire services, including the Associated Press. The Post has permission to use them, and verified that the photos are those of Trayvon Martin.
So in this instance, it’s not that The Post is choosing to publish old photos when newer ones are available on Facebook and elsewhere on the Internet but that The Post cannot use the newer ones unless it has the rights to them and they have been verified.
The other issue that’s gotten the most attention is The Post’s coverage of Mitt Romney.
It started with the story about his days as a high school student at Cranbrook School in Michigan and the prank he and others played on a classmate. The ombudsman (who addressed the story in a recent blog post) received a record number of e-mails and phone calls on this topic, with more than 60 voice mails left in less than 48 hours.
Then this week The Post’s piece on the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre in Arkansas carried out by a Mormon militia only added fuel to the still-burning fire.
One reader wrote:
“Seriously? Time and effort spent to make sure we know about an attack made by the Mormon militia in 1857? To what end? This is beyond silly.”
The story, timed to appear with the Arkansas presidential primary, made the point that although many Arkansans in this region still have ties to victims of the massacre, and hence an anti-Mormon bent, the story seems to conclude that Republicans there won’t be dissuaded from voting for Romney simply because he is of the same faith.