The Tragic Tale of Trayvon Martin: An Analysis of Representative Anecdotes and Their Implications

Open Access
Adams, Briana P
Area of Honors:
Communication Arts and Sciences
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Kirtley Hasketh Wilson, Thesis Supervisor
  • Lori Ann Bedell, Honors Advisor
  • Trayvon Martin
  • representative anecdote
  • media
  • coverage
  • dramatism
  • pentad
For my honors thesis, I will be analyzing the 2013 State of Florida v. Zimmerman case in order to gain a better understanding of the communication patterns surrounding this racially charged case and how coverage differed across various media. In order to execute this project, I will divide my thesis chapters by media type: print media (newspapers/news articles), television media, the National Public Radio and social media. Using a critical approach through Kenneth Burke's concept of the representative anecdote, I hope to uncover the narratives used to describe Trayvon Martin and to elucidate the way the media framed the case for their listeners. How did these narratives overlap? How did they differ? How did the narratives told in black press relate to mainstream coverage? How did the media make sense of the incident and what are the implications of these narratives from a rhetorical standpoint? Using this background, I will offer my interpretation of the case as it unfolded over time, taking into consideration the coverage presented by the media and the representative anecdote theory by Burke. By exploring these research questions, I hope to provide an in depth media analysis of one of the most controversial cases of this decade.