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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Second NBC journalist fired over edited George Zimmerman 911 call



A second NBC journalist was fired for involvement in the editing of a tape of the 911-call from George Zimmerman just before he shot unarmed, African American Florida teen Trayvon Martin, Poynter reported on Wednesday, April 25. The call was edited to imply that Zimmerman was suspicious of Martin simply because he was black -- similar editing of a tape that aired on the Today show resulted in NBC firing a producer.

WTVJ NBC6 reporter Jeff Burnside in Miami was fired Friday, April 20, and so far there is no word on whether NBC believes the editing was intentional or an oversight, according to SFLTV.

Two other employees were disciplined, according to the Miami Herald, which also noted that the video aired without any manager editing it. As such, the station intends to hire an assistant news editor and improve the editing process. “We take this incident very seriously and apologize to our viewers,” said WTVJ spokesman Matt Glassman, as quoted by the Herald. “After conducting an extensive investigation, we are putting a more stringent editorial process in place to ensure this does not happen again.”

The transcript of the 911 call reads:
Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.
Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?
Zimmerman: He looks black.

The tapes were edited so that the dispatcher's question was eliminated with Zimmerman saying, "This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black," according to the Huffington Post.



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