ALICIA WALLACE: If PM doesn’t like the headlines he needs to change the story


Alicia Wallace

I HAVE taken issue with many headlines for various reasons, from being sensational to the point of misleading anyone who started and stopped there to the use of inappropriate language such as “unlawful sexual intercourse” instead of clear, correct language like “rape".

We all know that headlines are meant to draw attention, provoke conversation, sell newspapers, get clicks, and prompts comments and shares. They do not come from just the content of the article, but are crafted for this specific purpose — making us both look and want to draw other people into it with conversation or some other form of engagement. The headline on the front page of any newspaper, of course, is the reason to buy the newspaper. There may be interest in other articles, but unless a consumer is looking for something in particular, like the classified ads section, they will not turn the page to find those articles because they would not buy the paper if not for the singular selling point that is the headline.

Government push back on crime fears. Davis meets to protect tourism. Expect even more aggressive policing. Bail Act changes watered down. Anti-violence plan still not launched. More shanty homes being torn down. Don’t give crooks government contracts. New bail possible after bail breach. Prosecutors key to death penalty. Death penalty still an option. I was fired for following rules. Three more murders. Detention ‘is price we pay’. Two more shot dead. Three murders in less than 24 hours. Woman shot dead. Family is left to sleep on ground. PM’s ‘shock’ over murder spree. Those are some of the front page headlines since the start of the year. This is generally what they look like. Obviously, they are sometimes quite evocative, and at other times they are flat. In some cases, a rather uninteresting headline is followed closely by a shocking or particularly interesting one that raises questions.

While news media in The Bahamas is certainly not perfect, it gives us information. We find out about upcoming events, diplomatic visits, bills being tabled, opinions shared by politicians, and crime. We even get warnings, at times, when grocery prices are going to increase. With regular crime reports, we get a general sense of what is happening in the country and can assess the risk we face in general and when undertaking particular activities. Reporting helps us to plan. They help us to make decisions. When reporters follow up on stories, we can be quick to forget about, we get context, and this is even more valuable in helping us to understand what is happening around us and the likelihood that we would be directly affected by it. The news is for us. We need it, we buy it, we search for it, and we use it.

There are, of course, other people who access Bahamian news. We are not so separate from the rest of the world that we can keep all of our problems to ourselves. Other people can easily search and access the news, including crime reports. This is completely normal. It is reasonable for people to search the news, and it is likely that they will come across articles about murders, rapes, and robberies. We, similarly, consume news from other parts of the world, including and especially Florida.

It is quite interesting that the Prime Minister would tell the media not to report crime on the front page, using tourism as the excuse. For tourists to feel more comfortable coming here, where we actually live, he would like to see crime reported less prominently? Our access to information would change if the media followed this suggestion. Our awareness of what is happening in this country would change. We need to know what is going on. Yes, people should read and watch the news in their entirety, but that is not where we are. People do not have the time and, in some cases, do not have the interest.

It is a reasonable expectation that important news will be on the front page of the newspaper and the beginning of news broadcasts. It would be absurd to change this for the sake of tourists or tourism. Instead, do the work required to reduce crime. Do the work required to get the attention of the media. Do the work that is worthy of headlines. Let the change start with the Office of the Prime Minister. Let it start with this administration.

There are many headlines that would be welcome and that would deserve the front page. Here are a few:

1 Menstrual hygiene products now VAT-free

2 No tax on medication

3 National Health Insurance now covers MRIs and CT Scans

4 National Drug Plan expands to cover more chronic diseases

5 Environmental Tax revenue going directly to responsible electronic waste disposal

6 Ministry of Education presents new national assessment to replace BJCs and BGCSEs

7 Comprehensive sexuality education now in all schools across The Bahamas

8 Parliament now accessible to people who use wheelchairs

9 Campaign finance reform is here

10 Free wifi in public parks, clinics, and community centres

11 Gender-Based Violence bill passed

12 Gender policy implementation underway

13 Reservation on CEDAW Articles 2(a) and 9(2) withdrawn

14 National Human Rights Institute established

15 Government follows through on promise of gender-equal nationality rights in law

16 All Members of Parliament submit public disclosure before the deadline

17 Free after school programmes launched

The headlines do not have to be about murder. When murder is the most interesting news, they will be. Make better news, Parliament. Make better news, Cabinet. Make better news, Senate. We would like to see it.


1 Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev. Ashna Rake is an Indian American chef running Curried Dreams in her commitment to keep her father’s legacy alive. Her relationship with her mother is strained, and her aunt is much more like a mother in every way. Ashna is struggling to keep her father’s business going when she is asked to be on a cooking show where chefs help celebrities to make beautiful dishes. What she does not expect is that the celebrity she is paired with is a ghost from her past. Recipe for Persuasion has been promoted as a romantic comedy, but that may not be entirely accurate, given the heavy themes and limited humour. There is definitely grief and there is certainly romance in this book which is a part of a four-book series by Sonali Dev. Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavours is the first in the series, but not a perquisite for Recipe for Persuasion.

2 International Women’s Day March and Expo. International Women’s Day is quickly approaching, and Equality Bahamas is holding its annual International Women’s Day March and Expo on Saturday, March 9. This is a great opportunity for people to get together in support of women’s human rights and demanding full access to all of our rights. The day begins with a march at 9am from Eastern Parade to The Dundas Centre for Performing Arts on Mackey Street where the expo will run from 10am to 3pm. Exhibitors include Bahamas Crisis Centre, Hands for Hunger, Bahamas National Trust, and Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator, and workshops and other sessions include yoga, self-defense, letterpress printing, massage, and Zumba. The full day of family-friendly activities is entirely free. Follow Equality Bahamas (@equality242) on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more information in the coming weeks.

3 Christmas Club account. It is not too late to open a Christmas Club savings account at a credit union. This is a good, low-pressure way to start saving money in a way that develops the practice and discipline needed to meet longterm financial goals. Whether you want to be able to save enough money to purchase gifts for family members during the holiday season, make a large purchase for yourself, or simply begin a savings practice, this type of account is convenient option, requiring a commitment to regular deposits, discouraging withdrawals before the end of the year, and usually giving flexibility in case you absolutely need to make a withdrawal before then. The interest rate is relatively good, certainly better than an ordinary savings account.


Porcupine 2 months, 1 week ago

Very good Alicia. Well said and exactly right. Thanks for taking the time to write this article.


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