“A Bloody Mystery”


A Bloody Mystery

Bloody-baby

Yesterday’s front page of the Jamaica Observer featured this headline and picture. It was certainly eye-catching. And then I read the story and was creeped out. According to parents Linval Grant and Vicky Forrest, their twin girls (aged 17 months), have woken up bloody, bruised and with bite marks on their skin. In addition, the family has seen “baby sized” figures in their home.

From a journalistic point of view, I cannot understand the newsworthiness of such an article. It seems more voyeuristic than anything. This is a destitute family, living in a “rotten” home that is infested by rats and even mongoose. Towards the end of the story, the family says it needs money.

Would this story have been written or made front page if it had been a wealthy family? I’m not sure. The newspapers here seem obsessed with portraying people from lower socio-economic classes in a certain way that is voyeuristic and reinforces the notion of the poor as “the other.”

We will likely never know the explanation behind these strange occurrences in this story. Maybe the Observer will follow up, maybe they won’t. Perhaps people will even offer support after reading this story. This has happened before and can be one positive outcome of the media focusing on the plight of poor people.

One could even argue that this article was written in a relatively respectful way in that it tells the story in a straightforward manner, ie it is taken as fact. However, this is also a drawback as there is no verification, no clarification, no other voices that could lend possible explanations. As a result, the audience is left wondering about the point of the story and left to fill in the blanks.

In any case, I am preparing to do some media training, so thoughts of newsworthiness and media ethics are on my mind. This article certainly provides some food for thought.

2 thoughts on ““A Bloody Mystery”

  1. Briefly. Jamaica is somewhere that still practices many rituals. So, stories like this may have ‘meaning’ in the sense that some may see rituals. There may be other simple answers (eg rat bats). The story may also be one created by the so-called victims (not uncommon, and happens in many forms to gain attention or support0. None of that is to detract from whatever may be real and distressing to the families.

    Yes, we get lots of stories about deplorable living conditions. They evoke sympathy and sometimes solutions. The social safety nets are porous.

    I’d give the Observer a pass on whether this is newsworthy because it alerts us to something going on that could be solved by our being aware of it.

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