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Trayvon Martin pictures shape our perception on the case

12:34 PM, Mar 29, 2012   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida - How tall was Trayvon Martin? 5'5," 5'8" or maybe 5'10"?

According to what has been released by the Sanford Police Department, the teen was actually six feet tall and weighed 160 pounds. But you probably wouldn't know that, based on most of the pictures circulated by the media.

Related: Trayvon Martin Facebook pictures

That's because most of the pictures shown until this week were taken years ago.

"As we talk about the contemporary issue now as the investigation goes on, what happened on that unfortunate night and that interaction we need to see as close a representation of who Trayvon Martin was at that point as possible," said Kenny Irby, a senior faculty member at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg.

Irby says the media has a responsibility to provide some context to the pictures it uses in the case.

Even the mug shot that most news outlets have been using of George Zimmerman is nearly seven years old. It wasn't until last week that a newspaper secured a more recent photo of the man who fatally shot Martin.

The newer picture is dramatically different than Zimmerman's mug shot.

"I think we have to step back as journalists and do the due diligence to say we need to be as fair and as balanced as we can moving this story forward."

Irby says using older pictures without any context can wrongly shape the perception some people have of the individuals involved in the case. He goes on to say it's not that pictures of a younger Martin don't have a place, but again he says they need to be accompanied with some explanation.

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