I just shook my head as I watched Geraldo Rivera on Fox saying that Trayvon Martin’s hoodie was as much responsible for his death as George Zimmerman. Really? The hoodie made him do it?
I thought of the 1970’s. I was a kid back then and I remember how parents were told that bell bottoms turned your teenagers into druggies, even heroin addicts. Ridiculous! Well I wore bell bottoms and so did my parents. None of us were ever drug addicts.
I showed my 15-year-old son Geraldo’s video. Yes, my son wears hoodies. In fact, he wears one everyday to school. The first thing he said was “Where are his facts? Where are his statistics?” Those are good questions. My son who is in a high school journalism class told me that in his class he was told that journalists are supposed to have facts to support what they say or write. All I could say to him was “Well it supposed to be that way.” And then he sent Geraldo a tweet that read “Hoodies don’t kill people. I’d like to know where you got your facts.” He’s still waiting for a response.
Stick to the Facts
As journalists we have a huge responsibility not to add fuel the fire. We have the responsibility to report the news, and try our best to not take sides. Sure we get emotional, and sure at times we get carried away; but what we say and write—can hurt more than help. So censor yourself before you BURST!
Report the News, Don’t Become the News
What’s sad about this situation is that while we should be observing the case of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman and how it turns out; the public and the media have shifted to Geraldo. He has put “hoodies” on the map, and distracted from the real issue: The shooting death of Trayvon Martin. As I write this Geraldo is “trending” on Twitter. Someone has already started a website “Geraldo in a Hoodie.”
I want to make this clear. I like Geraldo. I think he’s done some outstanding journalism work in his career. I know at times some of his work has been a bit tabloid and theatrical.
Geraldo has promoted my journalism work on his past syndicated shows and given big donations to several journalism organizations. He’s always been a pleasure to talk to when I’ve run into him at journalism conventions. I just wish he understood how much power he packs in his statements and tweets and how the negativity reflects badly on all journalists.
This is the kind of stuff that makes the public; our readers, our viewers, our listeners disrespect and not trust the media. This is the kind of stuff that makes them stop reading our papers and websites, and turn their channels from news to reality shows.
Geraldo tweeted “My own son just wrote to say he’s ashamed of my position...” He also tweeted “Justice will come to Zimmerman the FLA shooter, but I’m trying to save lives like Trayvon’s…” Well from one journalist to another—Geraldo please help us save journalism and stop giving your opinion. Be a journalist and stick to the facts and only the facts.
Rebecca Aguilar is an Emmy award winning freelance reporter. She’s a board member with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Society of Professional Journalists-Fort Worth Chapter. She also sits on the National SPJ Diversity Committee.