“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):
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.
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.
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.