Sunday, February 20, 2011

Media coverage of Forde trial (updated)

Much has been written and said regarding media coverage of the first-degree murder trial for Shawna Forde, especially the lack of national media coverage of the case.

Pima County Superior Court
A Pima County Superior Court jury found, on Feb. 14, that Forde, 43, was guilty of two counts of first-degree murder, the attempted first-degree murder of Gina Gonzalez, the wife of Raul Flores and mother of Brisenia Flores, as well as one count of burglary in the first-degree; one count of aggravated assault, serious physical injury; one count of aggravated assault, deadly weapon/dangerous instrument; one count of armed robbery; and one count of aggravated armed robbery.

On Feb. 15, the jury found that Forde was eligible for the death penalty on the two first-degree murder counts. Since then, the jury has heard mitigation evidence that the defense hopes will allow the jurors to grant Forde leniency and sentence her to live in prison as opposed to death by lethal injection. The jury began deliberations on Feb. 18 and will resume deliberations on Feb. 22.

While I represent only of the local media outlets, the Green Valley News and its affiliates, including the Everett Herald in Washington. The only other local print news representative in attendance throughout the trial has been the Arizona Daily Star.

Also in attendance has been a freelance writer representing the online news outlet The Daily Beast, a photojournalist from online Detroit publication The Looking Glass and for opening statements the Los Angeles Times sent a staff reporter who is based in Denver.

Along the way, reporters from, the New York Times, Reuters and the Christian Science Monitor have spent time in the courtroom

During the first day and a half of testimony, local television news outlets, KVOA-TV, KGUN-TV and KOLD-TV, were in court to record opening statements and testimony from victim Gina Gonzalez. Joining the local TV news outlets. Curiously, KGUN-TV was not present at any time for the closing arguments in the penalty phase last Friday. KMSB-TV has not sent anyone to report on the proceedings.

Judge John S. Leoanrdo
The first day-and-a-half was a reporter and producer from the CNN program AC360. Since last Wednesday local TV news has not attended the trial. A crew from Univision, a Hispanic television network, did attend the morning that a witness, attempted to enter the courtroom in disguise entered only to be banished by Judge John S. Leonardo, the veteran jurist who is presiding over the case.

A crew from Telemundo was present on Feb. 14 when guilty verdict were returned in the first phase of the trial. And, a reporter from CNN/New America Media has attended the trial periodically.

Last week, a crew from Al Jazera also attended a morning session of the trial. They were last heard from as they headed towards Arivaca.

Today, producers from Dateline NBC, a reporter from National Public Radio and a reporter from Arizona Public Media have joined us in the gallery. 
Pool photos courtesy of Jonathon LeFaive