Dear Editor: Fear factor; the Guardian’s disturbing headline story on Michelle-Lee Ahye

“Irrespective of where one stands on LGBTQ rights, the story was shameful. It demeaned one of our island’s greatest athletes [Michelle-Lee Ahye] for no countervailing journalistic purpose. Not only was the premise of the story flawed, the merits of it too.”

The following Letter to the Editor on today’s Trinidad Guardian article on Commonwealth Games 100m champion Michelle-Lee Ahye was submitted to Wired868 by Dr Emir Crowne, barrister (New City Chambers) & senior lecturer (Mona):

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye enjoys her golden moment during the Women’s 100m final medal ceremony at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on 10 April, 2018.
(Copyright Saeed Khan/AFP 2018/Wired868)

Earlier today, the Trinidad Guardian devoted its entire front page to Ms Michelle-Lee Ahye, a sprinter of international standing. The headline, front page and accompanying story, however, were not devoted to her sporting prowess. Rather, the story consisted of an entirely sensationalised account of Ms Ahye’s personal life.

The Guardian indicates that a photograph of Ms Ahye and her partner, in a “compromising position”, was “leaked online.” It was a thinly veiled attempt by the Guardian to trade off the recent, and intense, interest in LGBTQ issues and rights.

Well, the marketing ploy failed miserably.

Irrespective of where one stands on LGBTQ rights, the story was shameful. It demeaned one of our island’s greatest athletes for no countervailing journalistic purpose. Not only was the premise of the story flawed, the merits of it too.

First, the impugned photo appeared on either Ms Ahye’s Instagram account or on an account of someone close to her. I’m not sure how this qualifies as a “leak”—but such is the language one uses in the quest for sensationalism.

Photo: Commonwealth Games 100m champion Michelle-Lee Ahye (right) is the target of world attention after snatching the title on the Carrara Stadium track on 9 April, 2018.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Next, the allegedly “compromising position” is also fairly benign. It simply shows Ms Ahye and her partner taking a photo in a mirror, with Ms Ahye’s hand in an amorous position. It could also be said that the photo was Ms Ahye’s way of indicating that once taboo aspects of their relationship are no longer so, owing to the recent ruling in Jones v. AG.

Either reason matters not. It was a photo of two people in a loving relationship. Nothing more.

In fact, it is safe to say that the only “compromising position” revealed in this story is the lack of responsible journalism on the Guardian’s part. By placing the personal life of a private citizen on the front page of a national, daily newspaper, you are implying that the story is—quite literally—the most pressing item of public interest in Trinidad and Tobago that day.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The headline, the front page and the accompanying “story” were all highly sensationalised and nothing more than an ill-conceived ploy to increase sales and/or readership.

The story is also a continuation of the sheer disrespect that we show our national athletes. Athletes devote their bodies and lives to the service of our country, often with little or nothing in return. They deserve our utmost respect and certainly not the level of contempt shown by the Guardian today.

Photo: A pensive Trinidad and Tobago sprinter Michelle-Lee Ahye has a  look at her 100m gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
(Copyright AFP 2018/Wired868)

Indeed, on a day filled with stories surrounding the Windrush Generation and counterfeit pharmaceuticals, the Guardian’s choice to sensationalise a ‘non-story’ about Ms Ahye must be condemned. Perhaps the silver lining in all of this is tomorrow’s unqualified apology that the Guardian should issue, given that their editorial policy appears to be based largely around social media outrage.

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  1. Pkease Leave the Young Woman alone concentrate on what she is she is an Athlete and what she did for TNT,Miss Ahyee please ignore these People this will soon die and natural death

  2. Anything for a story. Should be shame of their actions.

  3. I don’t ascribed to that life style…but i wouldn’t persecute anybody for it either…i think it’s all about respect…you respect me and i will likewise….that front page was made to embarrass and shame that young lady…why d arse didn’t they ask for an inteview and allow her to come our an make her sexual preference known….?

  4. Now guardian saying sorry, keep that the damage already done,still not buying guardian

  5. I totally agree!! The Guardian should issue an apology to Ms.Ahye. The Sportswoman brought pride to this country and insteas of lauding her we shamed her with sensational headlines!

  6. The funny thing is that people who saying it’s a ‘non-issue’ have made this nonsense an issue.

    • Nonsense, Brian? Just what is ‘nonsense’? The fact of what the Guardian did or the fact of the 26-year-old MLA’s sexual preferences? I think you should make your position clear…

  7. Simply put Lasana it literally made no sense to me maybe because I’m a person who minds my own business be it celebrity, friend, foe, national figure. It was foolish propaganda and it seemed like a fruitless attack. This is the world now why highlight a persons sexual preference? My simple question is why her when there are thousands like her in Trinidad and Tobago. Who can cast the first stone though? I hate people who judge people and they are worse off. They say Jesus is coming soon right so make sure you put your house in order first before you look at your brother. We will all be measured. Hmm and that made front page. Really?!

  8. She not a shame of her preference why should the guardian be a shame for printing it,,to me that did not warrant front page

  9. Agreed. It was demeaning by an experienced media house. Would the public consider it demeaning if it was an ordinary citizen sex preference/ orientation was made public or a LGBT citizen was abuse violently or otherwise?

  10. They are ashamed that she did what none of them could have done bring a moment of joy to our country with all the depressing news we hear every day

  11. Some ppl just have no class and are very out of timi
    ng their heart is so cold that they will never see the good part of another ask them what they ever did for the country but they will move anything to bring it down

  12. Why did they not put a picture of the CJ?
    They only trying to get away from the real issue of why the Act was amended…

  13. Don’t play mas if you fraid powder!!!

  14. Not defending the guardian….but it is what it is….and as being a sport personality, we were just being informed a little bit more about her especially in light of a recent court verdict. I guess if it were a non personality or regular person pictures…it would have just been circulated.
    I understand that the young lady closed her social media accounts…is she feeling guilty about something, one must ask.
    I am against gay based on upbringing and religion, but if one choses to live like that …..then it’s up to them and the good Lord. I have nothing to do with.
    And that’s my 2 cents…
    It is what it is.
    I have also noticed persons who have been bashing these ppl are now saying singing a different tune.

  15. Kept my $2 this morning and will not buy that newspaper again until they issue an apology!

  16. Stop buy the guardian is time we stand up in this country

  17. I too wishes to condemn the Guardian for its attempt to shame Ms. Ayhe. That’s why I have stopped reading it’s publications.

  18. Same thing they did to our President. Disgraceful. -_-

  19. I only hope that Michelle saw the outpouring of support for her. It must be so disheartening to work hard and achieve for a country, only to have them spit in your face- but this time, at least, it was one segment, and the rest of us were almost universal in our condemnation of it. I hope she can take some comfort in that, at least.

  20. So people were saying mean, homophobic things about Michelle-Lee Ahye on Facebook, I gather. Is there a story in that? Perhaps. I think Guardian just missed the right line.
    There was no “leaked” photo and I am not sure if “smear campaign” is the right phrase to describe it. Guardian never came close to backing up either claim.
    Guardian just reproduced empty social media chatter instead of finding a way to turn what was happening into a proper conversation.

  21. What is amazing to me is the fact that no seniors at the Guardian taught this was wrong.

  22. Permit me to disagree with you Dr. Crowne.

  23. No better words spoken. Guardian should hang it’s head in shame.

  24. We expect so much of our athletes and give so little in return.

  25. I agree with the writer. None of our athletes must ever go through this again. Disrespectful and in extremely poor taste.
    The Guardian never considered her family, her achievement, het damn hard work.

    Call a protest…i will be there

  26. It was utterly disgraceful and disrespectful by not only the journalist but the editors who decided to go ahead and publish the article!

  27. No matter what the take from she..They cannot take her dignity. Stand proud Queen Michelle

  28. No matter what the take from she..They cannot take her dignity. Stand proud Queen Michelle

  29. It was uncalled for, and what was the point you were trying to get across Guardian? What were you guys hoping to prove? I hope it worked and you as a newspaper feel good about yourselves.

  30. So is it shameful to post someone with their significant other when other athletes win they and their significant others are splashed all over usain bolt was even posted with other person than the person he was in a relationship with.

    • If you decide to embark on a your particular lifestyle, and you are a public figure, and you are proud of what you do,…..what shame should there be?

      Dwight Yorke was shown on numerous occasions with different types of females when he was in his prime, who spoke of privacy. Minister Young was allegedly thrown out of his house by his mistress. We only knew of the mistress after this incident, was it a matter for privacy? How many incidents of Jay Z and his Wife Beyonce we were privy of ? Bajan pride and joy Rihanna and all of her change of partners, we saw all the details of each and every one, didn’t we?

      If she is proud and comfortable with he status, why is this a shaming? Is it shaming by publishing what is factual or true? Then it should hold true for all athletes, entertainers and public figures. Don’t publish Darryl Smith, Padarath, Moonilal or Marlene s Business; what good for one …. should be good for all. Gay, Bi, Jammette, Horner etc..

      I just have a problem with that particular media house, and their errenous, and outta timing publications, so has moved away from patronizing their offerings….

    • Evans, please check your dictionary for the words RELEVANT and RELATED. Then come back and let us know what you think.

    • Yes yes yes Andy Morris well said.

    • Andy Morris all the incidents you spoke of were covered in the tabloids and not in the main papers.
      I don’t think Guardian aspires to be a tabloid.

  31. The Guardian was described by Dr. Eric Williams as the Jamette of St Vincent St. Nothing in their behaviour has proved him wrong. Why should anyone’s sex life or sexual orientation be anybody’s business but his/her own? While Trinidad and Tobago is drowning in corruption, murders, kidnappings, theft by banks and individuals in unrecognisable proportions, the jamette focuses on what Ahye does with her partner. Windrush should be a page one issue, but then our Prime Minister is himself very quiet on the issue unlike the Prime Ministers of the other islands.

  32. I agree with you totally, it’s a sad day when we overlook someone’s great achievements ,an instead try to assassinate their character, stand strong Michelle , we love you.

  33. Guardian T&T. Shame on you!

  34. A friend of mine described the story as “vomitous.”

    Not sure I agree with the word but I sure as hell agree with the sentiment.

    Can you imagine the level of desperation it takes to allow a journalist to stoop so low? I feel 99% revulsion and 1% of pity.

  35. stink and dutty was how guardian behave

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