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Controversial Photo Adds Fuel to Fire in Trinidad Protests

In Trinidad and Tobago, the month began with protests in Beetham Gardens, a disadvantaged community on the outskirts of the capital, Port of Spain, after police shot and killed a young man from the area. The authorities claimed that the suspect was armed; residents maintain that he had marijuana on him and was trying to flee from the police. The situation soon escalated: There were clashes with riot police who were attempting to squelch the protests; police used rubber bullets and teargas in an attempt to keep protesters from blocking the roads and nearly a dozen people were reportedly injured.

This week, Newsday (one of three dailies in the country) featured a picture of the protests on its front page. But it wasn't just any picture. The photo in question featured an 81-year-old lady in her underwear – an editorial decision that caused more outrage in the community, with residents burning copies of the paper.

Newsday Cover

Newsday Cover

This has become a hot topic of discussion on the blogs and social media, with many accusing Newsday of being vulgar and sensationalist. The online group Citizens Union of T&T revealed that the picture on the front had been digitally altered, by comparing it to a picture from inside the paper:

Top: original inside newspaper. Bottom: Picture used on newpaper cover

Top: original inside newspaper.
Bottom: Picture used on newpaper cover

Katherine Stollmeyer Wight called the reporter at Newsday and expressed her displeasure with the picture:

He said the Newsday front page depicted what was happening. I said, ‘dishonestly so'..first of all..you may think you have, but the woman with her underwear exposed was not in that frame! He agreed, but defended them doing so by saying that was the behavior they encountered. I had to tell him, politely, that the Newsday has shown less class than the lady they exploited.

Sheldon Awai felt that the newspaper has damaged its reputation:

The Newsday's credibility is now severely compromised as far as I'm concerned. Do no ethical journalists still exist? If they can do this in an attempt to classify people in a certain light whats (sic) to prevent them from falsely putting a gun or drugs in a mans (sic) hand in a bid to sell press or showing a person at the scene of a crime that was in fact not there?

Phillip Edward Alexander wondered why the Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper didn't have more empathy for the lady:

If i had a million dollars to spare i would offer it as a reward for anyone who could post a picture of the Editor in Chief of the Newsday in her underwear for all the world to see.
Just so she could feel and appreciate the humiliation she put that elderly lady from Beetham through yesterday.

Judah Bharath asked if anyone had considered the lady's mental state:

HAS ANYONE stopped to think this Elderly Woman may have been in severe grief, and was pulling at her clothes in trying to vent her anger? Yes it looks bad, but has anyone thought of the fact she may have been grieving the loss of yet another Beetham child!

 

Rae-Ann Lloyd also addressed the issue of the woman's mental state and criticized those who placed blame primarily on the her:

When I look at the comments of people who think it is ok to publicize an old woman's mental illness because that is ‘how they act’ THAT is what you dip into your own pocket money and pay an actor to do. The pseudo-intellectual trolls need to grow up or at least learn to shut up.

Nkosi B. wondered what other relevant pictures may have been digitally altered:

Journalistic integrity does not exist in Trinidad and Tobago. At this point they're just selling advertisements. I bet most of the people living in T&T who are commenting couldn't tell you what was on yesterday's front page.

He also raised the question of credibility:

Also, isn't anybody else concerned about any other photo manipulations that have been forced upon the public in the past; front page or not?

Jeanelle Bernard found the picture to be both distasteful and personally offensive:

I shudder to think if my dress blew up that a picture may be taken. I shudder to think that if I took the values and decency out of my mind and lifted up my dress, that a photographer would reinforce my temporary loss of common-sense and take and publish my picture! There is very

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