How the Death of Trayvon Martin Became Not ‘Just A Florida Story’

By Chris Ariens 

A Grand Jury examination, a Justice Department investigation and some dramatic 911 calls were enough to take the story of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin out of Florida and into the national conversation.

Martin was shot to death by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, FL Feb. 26. In its initial investigation, Sanford police said they didn’t have enough evidence to charge the shooter, 28-year-old George Zimmerman.

While the shooting happened more than three weeks ago, it took almost two weeks for it to hit the national airwaves. “CBS This Morning” first aired a piece on March 8. The next day, HLN, which has devoted much of its programming to crime and the courts, began covering it. The following day CNN began its coverage.

MSNBC began covering the story on Rev. Al Sharpton’s show on March 13. Sharpton will be in Florida Thursday to host his radio and TV shows and attend a rally with Martin’s family. “We’re going to lay out a call for justice,” Sharpton tells TVNewser about his mission. “Let’s be clear, until civil rights activists got involved, the media and law enforcement didn’t take this seriously. Without serious and continual indignation it will die in some law enforcement file,” he says.

According to a TVEyes search, Fox News, ABC, and NBC began covering the story over the weekend, when 911 calls were released.

“Once they saw the action, the media had to take where it was not a regional story,” says Sharpton. “Then they knew it wasn’t just a Florida story.”