I work in an advertising agency, so everyday the media department gets all of Trinidad’s national newspapers delivered to our office. I was walking by the desk where they keep all of the papers this morning, and decided to look through some of the headlines as I’ve seriously been neglecting local news since I moved here.
So there I was..standing over this pile of newspapers,,when it occurred to me just how much they look like tabloids! The layout, the red background, the big bold type, the provocative images, the sensational headlines. “Creepy, Freaky Sir Half-naked on Facebook?”
Hmmmmmm. **scratches head**
Any Trini will tell you that gossip (or “shit talk”) is a big part of Trini culture. It comes with the territory I guess. When you live on an island of only 1.3 million people, and of those 1.3 million you have different stratas/classes of society that tend to associate only with each other..what can you expect? Just like honking is a national past time in Lebanon, gossiping is definitely a national past time in Trinidad.
I was talking to one of my co-workers about how it seems that national newspapers in Trinidad really play to the fact that Trini’s thrive on the sensational..on scandal..on drama. He went on to tell me, “In one day you will see the same story in four different newspapers, yet somehow, they all have different details. Newspapers are movelang, and the media has really lax standards when it comes to fact checking.” (“movelang” or “mauvais langue” is a French creole slang term Trini’s use to describe “gossip not rooted in any factual evidence / exaggerated hearsay.”)
I mean, it’s a fact that good news doesn’t sell..but I don’t know how people can read such stories every day.
I know that sensationalism in the news media isn’t specific to Trinidad. It’s a problem the world over. That doesn’t make it any easier to digest though! I genuinely hope that in my lifetime, the media uses their influence over society to incite positive change..not to fill our heads with useless sensationalist garbage.