(Image Source: MSNBC)
 

BY MADISON MACK

ANCHOR LAUREN GORES


Al Sharpton has been crusading in cases of racial controversy for 30 years but his front-and-center position in the Trayvon Martin case has the media asking once again – should a journalist be an activist in the story they’re covering? Fox News has a clip of Sharpton speaking at a rally for Travyon Martin.  

“You cannot defend yourself against a pack of skittles and iced tea. Don’t talk to us like we stupid, don’t talk to us like we ignorant. ...  Lock him up!”

Sharpton has spoken at several rallies in Sanford, Florida, pushing for the arrest of Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman. He has also solicited donations and accompanied Martin’s parents to a meeting with Justice Department officials -- before all of the evidence about Martin’s killing has come out.

Fox News barred host Sean Hannity from filming his show at a Tea Party rally in 2009. The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz says by covering the case and advocating for Martin simultaneously, Sharpton’s essentially covering himself.

“In what other context would a news organization allow someone to become such an integral part of the story and then represent the organization? Shouldn’t Sharpton have to choose between his dual roles? Would it be okay if he attended a rally for President Obama, asked the crowd for money and then interviewed Obama immediately afterward?”

And on CNN, Eric Deggans says the problem isn’t that people don’t know that Al Sharpton is a hybrid, the problem is that MSNBC has to cover the Martin case as a news organization.

“...we’re getting to the point where George Zimmerman is starting to speak up … He has a side. Is he going to feel like he can talk to NBC News or MSNBC and be treated fairly when one of their signature on-air personalities has spent weeks talking about how he should be arrested and he should be in jail?”

MSNBC told the Tampa Bay Times, they’ve always been upfront and transparent about Sharpton’s activism.

“When Rev. Sharpton joined MSNBC, it was with the understanding that he would continue to do his advocacy work.  We’re fully aware of that work and we have an ongoing dialog. His participation in these events is very public and our audience is completely aware of where he stands on the issues.”

And a writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says he was once skeptical of Sharpton as a newsman, but has since been won over.

“Rev. Al isn’t afraid of raising his voice or mixing it up. ... What makes him a rarity is his consistency in voicing unflagging support for the poor and the powerless. He’s not a limousine liberal like I suspect many of the progressives are on that network. Rev. Al hasn’t stopped marching just because he has a program on MSNBC.”

Kelly McBride, an ethics instructor at the Poynter Institute, tells the News-Sentinel Sharpton’s activism represents a growing trend in journalism.

“It certainly represents a change in our traditional view of the boundaries between journalism and activism ... I’m not saying this is without problems ... I think it’s very confusing. But it’s certainly the way we are moving in the journalism industry.”

ABC News reports Sharpton is organizing an Occupy Sanford, Florida, event for Easter weekend.

Sharpton Pushing The Journalist/Activist Boundary Too Far?

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Mar 28, 2012

Sharpton Pushing The Journalist/Activist Boundary Too Far?

(Image Source: MSNBC)
 

BY MADISON MACK

ANCHOR LAUREN GORES


Al Sharpton has been crusading in cases of racial controversy for 30 years but his front-and-center position in the Trayvon Martin case has the media asking once again – should a journalist be an activist in the story they’re covering? Fox News has a clip of Sharpton speaking at a rally for Travyon Martin.  

“You cannot defend yourself against a pack of skittles and iced tea. Don’t talk to us like we stupid, don’t talk to us like we ignorant. ...  Lock him up!”

Sharpton has spoken at several rallies in Sanford, Florida, pushing for the arrest of Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman. He has also solicited donations and accompanied Martin’s parents to a meeting with Justice Department officials -- before all of the evidence about Martin’s killing has come out.

Fox News barred host Sean Hannity from filming his show at a Tea Party rally in 2009. The Daily Beast’s Howard Kurtz says by covering the case and advocating for Martin simultaneously, Sharpton’s essentially covering himself.

“In what other context would a news organization allow someone to become such an integral part of the story and then represent the organization? Shouldn’t Sharpton have to choose between his dual roles? Would it be okay if he attended a rally for President Obama, asked the crowd for money and then interviewed Obama immediately afterward?”

And on CNN, Eric Deggans says the problem isn’t that people don’t know that Al Sharpton is a hybrid, the problem is that MSNBC has to cover the Martin case as a news organization.

“...we’re getting to the point where George Zimmerman is starting to speak up … He has a side. Is he going to feel like he can talk to NBC News or MSNBC and be treated fairly when one of their signature on-air personalities has spent weeks talking about how he should be arrested and he should be in jail?”

MSNBC told the Tampa Bay Times, they’ve always been upfront and transparent about Sharpton’s activism.

“When Rev. Sharpton joined MSNBC, it was with the understanding that he would continue to do his advocacy work.  We’re fully aware of that work and we have an ongoing dialog. His participation in these events is very public and our audience is completely aware of where he stands on the issues.”

And a writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says he was once skeptical of Sharpton as a newsman, but has since been won over.

“Rev. Al isn’t afraid of raising his voice or mixing it up. ... What makes him a rarity is his consistency in voicing unflagging support for the poor and the powerless. He’s not a limousine liberal like I suspect many of the progressives are on that network. Rev. Al hasn’t stopped marching just because he has a program on MSNBC.”

Kelly McBride, an ethics instructor at the Poynter Institute, tells the News-Sentinel Sharpton’s activism represents a growing trend in journalism.

“It certainly represents a change in our traditional view of the boundaries between journalism and activism ... I’m not saying this is without problems ... I think it’s very confusing. But it’s certainly the way we are moving in the journalism industry.”

ABC News reports Sharpton is organizing an Occupy Sanford, Florida, event for Easter weekend.

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