Analysis: All eyes remain on Florida jail as neighborhood watch volunteer awaits release on bail

| No Comments

The article All eyes remain on Florida jail as neighborhood watch volunteer awaits release on bail by the Associated Press for the April 22 Minneapolis Star Tribune is an example of a national news story.

All eyes remain on the Florida jail where the man charged with murdering 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is awaiting release on bail, and it could be several days before he leaves.

This is a pretty solid lede. It is eye-catching and interesting while still telling the facts. The passive "is awaiting" could just be "awaits" and there should be a separate sentence at the conjunction.

George Zimmerman's attorney was still working Sunday to secure the money for bail and a safe place for the 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer to stay. But residents in Sanford, where Martin was killed, don't expect a ruckus once Zimmerman is released.

"Is still working" could just be "still worked" to avoid passive voice. Conjunctions at the beginning of sentences should only be used sparingly, and I think it could have been avoided in this situation easily.

City commissioners haven't received calls from nervous residents. Protesters haven't showed up outside the jail. And talk at one local coffee shop seldom focused on the case.

I stand by my comment on conjunctions at the beginning of sentences from before. I also wonder how this reporter knows these things aren't happening. Did the reporter actually go to the coffee shop and listen? I think this needs to be sourced. It's nice color, but it seems easily made up.

"It's just kind of a non-issue now," said Michele Church, a server at Mel's Family Diner. "That's pretty much all anybody in Sanford wanted, was an arrest, so it could be sorted out in the court system."

Nice quote and a good source.

On Friday, a Florida judge agreed to let Zimmerman out on $150,000 bail. Defense attorney Mark O'Mara has said there are several options for where Zimmerman should go, but would not disclose any of them. Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester on Friday indicated Zimmerman would be allowed to leave the state if arrangements with law enforcement could be made for him to be monitored. He will be fitted with an electronic device.

"Has said?" Why not just "said" to avoid passive-ness? I think the second "on Friday" could be left out since it was already said once. The last sentence seems awkward. I know what the reporter means, but it just sounds very strange that he will be fitted with an electronic device. Maybe if the reporter had specified what kind of device it was it wouldn't be so weird.

About a half-dozen photographers and cameramen remained camped outside the Sanford jail Sunday, focused on the door marked "Bonds Rooms," where other people who had been arrested and released on bail exited. By mid-afternoon there was still no sign of Zimmerman, who entered the jail about a week earlier after more than a month of nationwide protests calling for his arrest.

"Remained camped" should just be "camped" since it means the same thing, really. That first sentence is really wordy and could probably be broken up into smaller sentences. There is nice detail, though. This reporter uses color well.

"The mood in Sanford has calmed down tremendously," said Sanford Commissioner Patty Mahany, whose district includes the neighborhood where Martin was killed. "I think now that people are able to see the justice system taking place, even though they understand it's going to be quite slow, people are willing to just remain calm and really we're all getting back to our daily routines."

Is she the police commissioner? When it just says commissioner, I wonder what exactly she is commissioner of. That's a good quote, but it didn't really add much that hadn't already been paraphrased before.

She said there were no special plans by the city under way in anticipation of Zimmerman's release.

A spokeswoman for the Seminole County Sheriff's Office declined to release any information about whether they were increasing patrols or security.

The "under way" seems out of place and should have gone after "special plans" instead of "city," I think. Even though the Sheriff's Office declined to say anything, I think that was an important question to ask. Too bad that's all the reporter could get, though.

Zimmerman has been the subject of scorn and debate in the weeks after he shot and killed Martin, who was unarmed and returning from buying Skittles and iced tea at a convenience store. The case has been the focus of continuing attention and sparked a discussion about race and the laws of self-defense. Before he turned himself in, members of the New Black Panthers had put out a bounty for his arrest.

This is very important background on the story and I think it could have been higher. Obviously, I think everyone in America has heard of this case. But since the article is about what unrest may occur after he is released from jail, it might have been nice to know that the New Black Panthers had put a bounty on him before. It would have put things in perspective of how serious this could be.

Defense attorneys for other high-profile clients who awaited trial on bail have said Zimmerman should leave Florida and refrain from going out in public. Sanford residents say they aren't expecting to see him around the neighborhood anytime soon.

It is weird that the reporter quotes defense attorneys without naming specific ones. It seems too vague. Also, "have said" could easily just be "said." Also, shouldn't it be "Sanford residents said" in the past, not present tense?

"They've already said they're going to move him to a safe place," Church said. "Everyone has calmed down. That's all anyone in Sanford wanted, an arrest."

That's the second time someone has said all people wanted was an arrest. That theme could have been exploited a lot more to make the story more interesting and obvious. Everyone expects there to be drama when this guy is released, but the residents really don't care. That could be more prominent.

Meanwhile, Martin's parents published a "Card of Thanks" in The Miami Herald obituary page Sunday. The note says Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin express their appreciation for all the public's support since their son's death. The notice includes a photograph of Trayvon Martin dressed in a hooded sweatshirt, similar to one he was wearing the evening he was killed.

"Words will never express how your love, support and prayers lifted our spirits and continue to give us the strength to march on," the letter says.

This is very nice detail and very touching, but kind of irrelevant to the story. Quotes are usually pretty weak kickers, and this is not the exception. It should also be "said" not "says."

Overall, this was an interesting follow-up to do on a story that is very well known and will be followed for months to come. Inquiring into what will become of the shooter after he gets out of prison was good reporting. Unfortunately, the story fell a little flat since people didn't really seem to care about his release. That might have been spun into a more intriguing story, but the way it was written didn't do that. Otherwise, the writing technique was pretty solid and so were the sources and reporting. A lot of work went into the story, the color and detail shows that.

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by ryanx790 published on April 22, 2012 5:51 PM.

Analysis: Northern Minnesota boy, 8, improving after boat accident; brothers' funeral set was the previous entry in this blog.

Analysis: Deadly attack on Nigeria's Bayero university in Kano is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.