The Battle for ‘Trayvon Martin’

Link

http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/4947

Abstract

One of the biggest news stories of 2012, the killing of Trayvon Martin, nearly disappeared from public view, initially receiving only cursory local news coverage. But the story gained attention and controversy over Martin’s death dominated headlines, airwaves, and Twitter for months, thanks to a savvy publicist working on behalf of the victim’s parents and a series of campaigns offline and online. Using the theories of networked gatekeeping and networked framing, we map out the vast media ecosystem using quantitative data about the content generated around the Trayvon Martin story in both offline and online media, as well as measures of engagement with the story, to trace the interrelations among mainstream media, nonprofessional and social media, and their audiences. We consider the attention and link economies among the collected media sources in order to understand who was influential when, finding that broadcast media is still important as an amplifier and gatekeeper, but that it is susceptible to media activists working through participatory or nonprofessional media to co-create the news and influence the framing of major controversies. Our findings have implications for social change organizations that seek to harness advocacy campaigns to news stories, and for scholars studying media ecology and the networked public sphere.

Summary

‘Mapping the Trayvon Martin Controversy.’ MIT Center for Civic Media blog. http://civic.mit.edu/blog/erhardt/mapping-the-trayvon-martin-media-controversy

Controversy Mapper

Research Assistant at the MIT Center for Civic Media in partnership with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, studying how a major media controversy changes over time and through the involvement of different actors in its media ecosystem, December 2009 – March 2012.

Website

Controversy Mapper at civic.mit.edu

Details of Work

  • Lead authored a case study of Trayvon Martin controversy from spring 2012
  • Advanced controversy mapper network research methodology using HITS algorithm to score the authority of media sources
  • Normalized and visualized multiple, disparate sources of media content along a time series to chart ebb and flow of story
  • Presented findings in multiple venues
  • Prepared slides for presentation of findings by PI on multiple occasions