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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Third NBC journalist loses job over doctored 911 call in Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida



A third journalist has lost a job in further fallout from NBC stations' misleading editing of the call George Zimmerman placed to 911, just before he allegedly shot and killed unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin, according to TVNewser. An NBC spokesperson confirmed that Miami-based correspondent Lilia Luciano is no longer with NBC News, but it is unknown whether she was fired or resigned, reported The New York Times.

NBC's "Today" show, as well as NBC affiliate WTVJ-TV in Miami, edited the 911 call to make Zimmerman sound like he was emphasizing Martin's race, the Associated Press explained. WTVJ reporter Jeff Burnside was fired in April and an unnamed "Today" show producer also was fired.

The actual transcript of the 911 call reads:
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.

The first two tapes were edited so that the dispatcher's question was eliminated with Zimmerman saying, "This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black." Luciano's editing resulted in the phrase "This guy looks like he’s up to no good or on drugs or something. He’s got his hand in his waistband. And he’s a black male," said the Huffington Post.

As Hollywood Reporter noted, news coverage of the killing of Martin -- especially NBC's tepid reaction to the controversy over the edited tapes -- has been criticized for over-emphasizing race.

Zimmerman faces second-degree murder charges for Martin's death.



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