Evaluating Trayvon Martin media coverage

Trayvon Martin
In this undated file family photo, Trayvon Martin poses for a family photo. College students around Florida rallied Monday, March 19, 2012, to demand the arrest of a white neighborhood watch captain who shot unarmed teen Martin last month, though authorities may be hamstrung by a state law that allows people to defend themselves with deadly force.

A grand jury that was set to convene Tuesday in the Trayvon Martin case has been called off.

On Monday, special prosecutor Anglea Corey decided that a grand jury is not needed to file possible criminal charges against George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who killed the teen February 26.

Corey could still decide to charge him with a serious felony such as manslaughter which can carry a lengthy prison sentence if he is convicted.

A recent Pew poll found that 56 percent of Republicans think there has been too much coverage of the case altogether. The poll reveals a sharp partisan divide - only 25 percent of Democrats say the media has gone overboard.

And the gap is even deeper along racial lines, with 58 percent of African Americans saying the death of the black teen is their top story, compared to 24 percent of whites. Has the coverage been excessive, or has the story just become a political litmus test?

"The results are not surprising if you understand how the African American community has historically viewed law enforcement and the criminal justice system," said Earnest Perry, associate professor of journalism studies at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

Perry will join The Daily Circuit Tuesday to discuss the media coverage of the case. Richard Prince, Maynard Institute for Journalism columnist, will also join the discussion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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