As a once respected media house, the Guardian may well believe maccoing to be its thing. But as a former journalism lecturer, I am very sure it isn’t mine.
I am not, therefore, in the least interested in knowing who Michelle-Lee Ahye’s partner is. Or his or her sex. Or his or her gender.
I think it is a safe bet that the Guardian principals were very proud of themselves for having “exposed” the 26-year-old Commonwealth Games 100m gold medal winner’s sexual preferences on yesterday’s front page. They must have thought they were awfully clever. I imagine them congratulating themselves on their big scoop, patting one another on the back, pleased as Punch.
Not too easily distinguishable, I have to add, from the Punch.
It reminds one of Newsday’s “Dick is in” headline in the run-up to the Rio Olympics. Only I have never heard Newsday boast about being a “family newspaper,” neither before nor after it carried a picture of Thackoor Boodram’s severed head on its front page one New Year’s Day. The 100-plus-year-old Old Lady of St Vincent Street has, however, made the phrase a recurrent theme in its advertising.
In fact, in the early 1990’s, I had the misfortune to sit in on a meeting at which a high-placed company representative (HCR) spent an awful lot of time tearing into the then Features Editor. She had been responsible for putting on the front page of the Carnival Magazine an authentic, unphoto-shopped photograph of a masquerader walking down Frederick Street with an over-sized phallus hanging from his waist.
His message delivered, Mr HCR then left, having announced that he was not taking any questions!
What was wrong with that? How could the Features Editor and the Editorial Committee not know that the Guardian was a family newspaper?
Well, times have changed. So I suspect that the Editorial Committee got no visit from any high-placed company representative yesterday or this morning. In fact, if we were not dealing with a paper that, in the mid-90’s, split the TT$500 prize for Employee of the Year between the two people whom they couldn’t separate, I would have said that the Editor probably received a bonus cheque in the course of the day yesterday for having boosted sales so healthily with his choice of lead.
That was before the s**t hit the fan, And the sporting fans began to hit back at the Guardian for its s**t..
You see, I don’t think the Guardian principals quite realise just how much times have changed. Maybe they missed it but just last week the local courts made a landmark judgement which should have clued them in to the ways of today’s world. Maybe they have been asleep on the job for so long that they no longer even bother to wake up and smell the coffee—or read the morning paper.
So I think, I hope that, in seeking to “expose” Ahye, they have merely exposed themselves to the contempt of right-thinking people.
Just over two weeks ago, Ahye was involved in a very public exchange with four-time Olympic medallist Ato Boldon prior to the departure of the national contingent for the Gold Coast. The spat which, I am reliably informed, was continuing unabated on Facebook as late as yesterday might well have led to Ahye’s decision not to participate in the 4x100m relay in Gold Coast.
Did the Guardian think to interview Ahye or Boldon about their ongoing feud? Of course not! Or to put a few pointed questions to TTOC’s Brian Lewis about what his organisation proposes to do about it? Of course not! Well, since I never looked beyond the front page of yesterday’s paper, I should say simply that I doubt it.
After all, there was low-hanging, eye-catching, potentially sales-boosting fruit on Facebook.
Raffique Shah reveals in today’s Express that the Carifta and Commonwealth Games squads were top-heavy with officials. There were 23 officials to service the 51-member contingent in Gold Coast and 18 to minister to the needs of the 42 athletes who went to the Bahamas.
For the ten-day stay in Australia, Shah estimates, taxpayers would have had to cough up the princely sum of some US$225,000. Seems to me that, in this guava season, a good reporter might have made a pretty compelling story out of that.
But who needs research and hard wuk when there is low-hanging, eye-catching, potentially sales-boosting fruit on Facebook?
Sort of like shooting lurid questions at the soon-to-be resident of President’s House.
Truth be told, I have no idea what T&T as a whole is thinking about the Guardian today. But if the reaction of one Twitter user is any indication, I am not alone in my resolve to have nothing to do with the Guardian after yesterday.
“I wouldn’t even put my zaboca to ripe in d Guardian newspaper,” she wrote. “The T&T Guardian is CANCELLED.”
So maybe I was wrong. Maybe the Editorial Committee will get a visit from a Board representative today.
“You can damage my reputation as a family newspaper,” the Guardian’s principals might well hear, “but don’t you mess with my bottom line!”
I’m finished with the Guardian but I don’t want to end with the Guardian. I want to end by relaying a message to the entire media from the 26-year-old Ms Ahye.
“I am old enough to make my own choices,” I say on her behalf, “whether it be whom to run after or whom to run with. And no slew of sordid, sensation-seeking front pages will change the image that will abide with sports fans.
“That image is the picture of one Michelle-Lee Ahye, me, crossing the finish line at the Commonwealth Games, first a little fist pump of triumph, and then, pumped, making an adrenaline-driven high-speed ‘lap’ of honour which only ended when realisation finally sank in and I collapsed in a relieved, exultant, grateful heap on the Carrara Stadium track.”
Yeah, Ato, talk nah!