There is already too much hyperbolic coverage of the very sad case of a shooting that ended the life of a teenager in Florida, and dangerously escalating reaction to it, without restraint or recourse to facts.

So I’ve stayed out of the fray, hoping truth and goodness prevail, naive as that may sound. But there are a couple of articles that particularly caught my attention, both of them disturbing. Yes, it’s all disturbing. But these stood out.

This one shows the carnival like atmosphere that has sprung up around a human tragedy.

From the T-shirt and hoodie sales to trademarking slogans like “Justice for Trayvon” to the pass-the-hat rallies that bring in thousands, the case of an unarmed black teenager killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer is quickly turning into an Internet-fueled brand.

Websites are hawking key chains bearing Trayvon Martin’s likeness. His parents have bought two trademarks, saying they hope to raise money to help other families struck by tragedy. Trayvon clothes, bumper stickers, buttons and posters are up for grabs on eBay.

Vendors selling Martin T-shirts and hoodies have become fixtures at rallies in Sanford, the central Florida town where Martin was shot last month. At one Sanford rally this week, a man had a variety of T-shirts laid out on the ground as marchers went by, yelling out, “I’ve got every size!”

I’m reminded of Augustine’s description in Confessions of his friend Alypius in the arena, first horrified by the spectators’ eager involvement in dehumanizing bloodsport and then falling into fascination with it himself.

Anyway, the other article was this serious assessment of the media’s collective role in whipping up a public frenzy.

The news media are taking on an increasingly police-like role in the Trayvon Martin slaying by using modern forensic techniques to analyze evidence, an approach some legal experts say can lead to a distorted view of the case because a lot of the key evidence is still under wraps.

The public has been whipsawed back and forth as new revelations emerge, appearing to support one version or the other….

Legal and forensic experts cautioned that none of the media-led investigations, which are done in many high-profile cases, has been conclusive.

Media-led investigations are very selective these days. And very, very political. As someone said on one media panel, ‘This is not about a black and white thing. This is about a right and wrong thing.’

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....