You will hate George, you will hate George, youwillhateGeorge, youwillhateGeorge, you…

The title of this blog is meant to reflect a comment I have made over at the Conservative Treehouse that I would like to, in essence, repeat here. It’s in regards to a certain aspect of writing or reporting if you will which I find detestable when used nefariously. That aspect of writing is how an author describes the person or people involved in whatever they are writing, which we can normally find within news articles. When a writer misuses the use of not only descriptors of the people involved but how they use their names it can simply be described as a tactic, a rhetorical tactic. It’s an aspect that I feel is important for people to understand, hence the blog. Think of it as a lesson if you will, something to look out for in future reporting and to be able to guard yourself against it.

So a prime example of the use of this dastardly tactic comes by way of one Rene Stutzman, writer for the Orlando Sentinel. But first allow me to provide you with three examples of other articles written by Stutman within which we will find the proper use of applying people’s names in and throughout an article. By looking at these examples we will be able to contrast it with another of Stutzman’s articles, and what we will find is just how stark that contrast is. The following three examples were picked on the critera that it have nothing to do with the George Zimmerman case and that it be some sort of crime, it was merely the first three I could find that looked to be as such. The articles were chosen by searching “Rene Stutzman” in the Search bar on the Orlando Sentinels website and clicking on Story which at this time has 161 stories in it.
Here is a link to that list;
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/search/dispatcher.front?Query=rene+stutzman&target=adv_article&date=&sortby=contentrankprof

 

So let’s look at our first example;
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-dead-cats-20120927,0,7280314.story

As you can see in that article, Stutzman first uses the persons first and last name;

Alfonso Vilela-Ramirez was arrested…”

Subsequent to that, every time Stutzman uses his name she uses his last name. Here are the remaining uses of his name;

“…in Vilela-Ramirez‘s grandmother’s…”
Vilela-Ramirez was supposed to…”
Vilela-Ramirez was being held…”

Now there is nothing wrong in and of itself by using his last name as opposed to his first name. And really, it’s not like there’s some law that says you must use a name one way or the other. But there are traditional standards and once one applies a double standard, which we will soon see, then that says something of the writers character, particularly if they are truly being objective in their reporting or not. But also as I stated earlier it’s more nefarious than that because when this is abused it’s meant to sway within the reader certain emotions, hence why it is a rhetorical tactic. With that let’s look at two more examples by Stutzman within which she displays the traditional, fair and objective standard.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-sanford-hospital-patient-fondling-20120925,0,6098099.story

As we see again, Stutman first introduces him by his first and last name then goes on to use his last name for the remainder of the article.

Jesus Efrend Marquez-Veglio was arrested…”
“…Marquez-Veglio grabbed her…”
“…complaints about Marquez-Veglio…”
Marquez-Veglio was not available…”

A third example;
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-sanford-attempted-murder-20120917,0,2174246.story

Gregory Eugene Taylor Jr. is accused…”
“…according to Taylor’s arrest…”
“…report that Taylor and…”
“…on Sept. 9 Taylor flagged…”
“…Taylor was released…”

So it is clear the Stutzman not only understands the principle but she applies it consistently from article to article and throughout each article. That is until she reports on the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case. Now we will clearly see a double standard and this nefarious rhetorical tactic at play. Here is the example we will use;

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/trayvon-martin/os-george-zimmerman-evidence-trayvon-20120428,0,1555215,full.story

Again, consistent with Stutman’s other articles, she begins with both the first names and the last;

“…prompted her to charge George Zimmerman with murdering Trayvon Martin?”

From that point on though the double-standard is revealed. Here is every other use of George’s and Trayvon’s name’s, and descriptors, for the remainder of the article (I will forgo the context for each use unless the names are close together which I will also highlight);

Zimmerman
unarmed black teenager
Zimmerman’s
He[George]
Trayvon
teenager
Zimmerman said he shot Trayvon…”
teen
the defendant
Zimmerman
Zimmerman
the defendant
Trayvon’s
Trayvon
“…heard Trayvon and Zimmerman fighting…”
Zimmerman
Trayvon
Trayvon’s
“If Zimmerman is telling the truth and Trayvon…”
teenager’s
Trayvon’s
“Police gathered Trayvon’s and Zimmerman’s clothes…”
Zimmerman’s
“If Zimmerman told the truth and Trayvon was on top…”
teenager’s
Zimmerman’s
“…if Zimmerman were bleeding and Trayvon kept punching him, the teenager may have had Zimmerman’s…”

As you can clearly see Stutmzan has personalized Trayvon by using his first name as opposed to his last conversely for George she has chosen to use the more distant use of his last name. And that’s exactly the emotional stance she would like to guide her readers to, personalize Trayvon/distance to Zimmerman. There are other dynamics at play here such as the use of Trayvon’s race, two people involved, working in the word “murder”, etc. but for now the point is to concentrate and remain focused on this particular rhetorical tactic of name use. This is purposeful and even more effective when used so close together in a single sentence as Stutman has had done with just this one article seven times, twice in one sentence though the last one was a descriptor as opposed to a name.

To be sure this was not merely to point out any one writer. It is merely a prime, contemporary example of which we can examine to help in our efforts to remain critical thinkers and guard ourselves from such dastardly tactics.

UPDATE: Something rather odd has happened. I was surfing for any of the latest articles on the George Zimmerman case and came across this article on a website called therecord.com. As I was reading along I was thinking to myself how this is the perfect example of the good example of how it ought to be done, contrary to Stutzman example above. Then I looked at the author. To my surprise there was listed Rene Stutzman, along with her partner in rhetorical crime Jeff Weiner. Did my blog cause them to have a sudden turn around? I wouldn’t flatter myself. Looking at the article as it is on the Orlando Sentinel however, I find something even stranger. All the “corrections” that were made in the therecord.com version have been “re-corrected” so to speak, that is, put in the style as I have blogged about.

Perhaps whoever copied the article from the Orlando Sentinel to therecord.com noticed Stutzman’s and Weiner’s folly and decided to correct it? Doubtful. Hmmm, what could have happened here? My guess? The article was originally written as it was copied to therecord.com from the Sentinel then later Stutzman and/or Weiner went into their article and “fixed” it, so to speak. I’m almost thinking that one of them, or someone else, writes the article then they come in and spin it or simply replace all the “Martins” with “Trayvons”. Either that or they are just saying hello to me. If that’s the case they could have just sent me a message, what’s with all the drama? Keep in mind my blog was written hours before the Orlando Sentinels.

Here’s what it currently looks like;

Orlando Sentinel
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/trayvon-martin/os-george-zimmerman-race-fight-fbi-fdle-20121012,0,6973848.story

therecord.com
http://www.therecord.com/news/world/article/816961–strategy-shift-by-george-zimmerman-lawyer-race-has-no-place-in-case

OS: “George Zimmerman’s lawyers…”
TR: “George Zimmerman’s lawyers…”

“…in Zimmerman’s prosecution…”
“…in Zimmerman’s prosecution…”

“…given that Zimmerman is…”
“…given that Zimmerman is…”

“…29-year-old Zimmerman…”
“…29-year-old Zimmerman…”

“…of Trayvon Martin, the…”
“…of Trayvon Martin, the…”

“…that Zimmerman was…”
“…that Zimmerman was…”

“…deprive Trayvon of…”
“…deprive Martin of…”

“…because of Zimmerman…”
“…because of Zimmerman…”

“…accused Zimmerman of…”
“…accused Zimmerman of…”

“…Trayvon on the night…”
“…Martin on the night…”

“Zimmerman’s neighbors…”
“Zimmerman’s neighbors…”

“…dozen of Zimmerman’s…”
“…dozen of Zimmerman’s…”

“…attorney for Trayvon’s…”
“…attorney for Martin’s…”

“…portrayed Trayvon as…”
“…portrayed Martin as…”

“…and Zimmerman as…”
“…and Zimmerman as…”

“…murdered Trayvon…”
“…murdered the teen…”

Oh, and the original read;
“…whether 29-year-old Zimmerman, a light-skinned Hispanic, violated…”

Now it’s;
“…whether 29-year-old Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, violated…”

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