Jamaica comes under foreign media's microscope
There is more to Jamaica than beaches, Reggae and a ‘chilled’ island lifestyle. Jamaica is not a little island of just a few hundred people living in huts on a white, sandy beach. It’s an island nation of 2.8 million people and it has a history of brutal slavery and colonialism, the legacy of which is still being redressed, like any developing nation it has a number of social ills and many of the population work hard for little pay and live in less than desirable conditions.
In short, Jamaica suffers just like any other country and its people are as complex as those in any other country, so why the island was ever reduced to a snapshot-type cliché seems at first a mystery, until one considers the way in which the media report on foreign countries.
A piece that was recently published by The Foreign Policy Journal captured this rather well, “When one thinks of Tiananmen, why does one only conjure visions of hordes of protesters and gangs of soldiers?” the author, Ramzy Baroud asks after describing a recent visit to the infamous square where he flew a kite and had his picture taken with soldiers – there were no protestors, no riots, no tanks, and yet the area is always associated with the events that took place over twenty years ago.
Baroud, a veteran journalist, goes on to describe a recent trip to Thailand and a typical day in Bangkok, “aside from a standoff at a major Bangkok shopping center, the rest of the metropolis seemed to operate as normal” he writes, and yet if western headlines and news articles are to be believed, the Red Shirt protestors brought the capital to a complete standstill for weeks.
It appears now that Jamaica has become the latest victim of this trend. Recent news headlines produced by typing in ‘Jamaica news’ on Yahoo throw up a barrage of sensationalized headlines that reduce the country to a snapshot of one event and distort the truth of a complex situation, the truth being the precise ideal they are meant to protect.
“Bodies pile up in Jamaica’s assault for drug kingpin” read one headline from the AFP, “Violence surges in Jamaica as troops hunt alleged drug kingpin” read another from the Washington Post and ABC News presents a video segment entitled “Jamaica turns into war zone”. The Miami Herald meanwhile has called the recent turn of events, “Jamaica’s day of reckoning” while the Boston Globe referred in one article to “Jamaica’s embattled leader”.
Such headlines would be casually dismissed by most Jamaicans as more of the same, it’s to be expected from a media machine that must do all it can to capture and retain the interest of a busy and varied public. But when well-respected media giants such as those mentioned present such a warped image of the truth, it does long-lasting damage to the reputation of a country and the lives of those who inhabit it.
Jamaica is not a war zone, parts of the capital, Kingston, are. The violence is occurring in the townships, or slums, as some would call them. The prime minister is not “embattled”, he is under pressure from opposition parties certainly, but such a statement (along with similar sensationalized accounts of recent events) conjures images of the parliament building surrounded and under threat of a coup. The death toll from the fighting has been significant and tragic, but the bodies are not piled up, they’re in morgues, hospitals and funeral parlors, as they would be in any civilized country.
The United States has issued a travel warning for US citizens, but that is in large part to prevent a political fallout if a US citizen were to be killed for whatever reason, because of the recent violence that has occurred in the wake of government attempts to crack down on drug production and smuggling. The likelihood of this is negligible, Kingston is not a war zone, isolated areas are, and a tourist would only be effected if they found out where the violence was occurring and then specifically went there.
“Travel experts urged travelers to Jamaica to follow the situation closely, but not to let the turmoil in Kingston automatically taint the rest of the island,” read one sentence in a CNN article discussing the possible effects of the drug-related violence on Jamaica’s tourism industry. Although presenting the truth in a more objective vein, the use of words like ‘turmoil’, taint an entire city in which civil unrest of isolated to a few neighborhoods.
What is occurring in Jamaica then, and the way in which it is being reported on in the international (largely western) media reflects what Baroud writes, “it seems that Western media cares little about these countries, outside of a very narrow context”, that context for China has been images of government oppression, while in Thailand the context has been that of civil unrest in Bangkok, now Jamaica has become the centre of this week’s news cycle in the context of turmoil, death, destruction and a war zone in the capital city.
In a few days the media will move their focus somewhere else, because the public will become tired to reading about Jamaica, just as it became tired of Thailand, Haiti or one of the many other developing nations that come under the microscope of the western media. While Jamaica will fade from the international headlines, the ramifications of those headlines will remain.
A failure to accurately report the truth will manifest itself in decreased tourism revenues as holidaymakers recoil from the sensationalized headlines and an image of Jamaica as a country embroiled in violence and on the brink of catastrophe will entrench itself in the minds of a western public without the time or inclination to seek out the truth.
Tourism accounts for a quarter of Jamaica’s GDP. By reporting on recent events in the country so flippantly, the western media may have destroyed the livelihoods of 700,000 people.
More Jamaica NewsRSS
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Fitch Ratings has removed from Rating Watch Negative and affirmed National Commercial Bank Jamaica Limited's (NCBJ) long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDR) at 'B-'. At the same time, Fitch has assigned a Negative Outlook to NCBJ's long-term IDRs. A full list of rating actions is at the end of this press ...
ALBA -1 submarine cable, which connects the island with Venezuela, according to Doug Madory of internet analysis firm Renesys. Madory told The Associated Press that he detected new traffic between state-owned telecoms monopoly Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA) and Cable & Wireless Jamaica beginning 13 May 2013. 'They’re gaining some physical diversity there, so if ...
Tory McPhail's Best of Show, Savory recipe from Commander's Palace is three parts, including the marinated, smoked pork, a rice accompaniment and the drink, agua fresca. McPhail writes that the agua fresca is better if it marinates in the fridge several days. The recipe can be easily halved. Jamaican Jerk Pork, Island Paella and Agua Fresca Makes 14 ...
A Georgia woman is behind bars in Kosciusko County after she was accused of being a "mule" in a "Jamaican lottery scam". Kosciusko County Sheriff's Department detectives drove to the state of Georgia last week and arrested 74-year-old Joanna Karene McCrary on two counts of felony money laundering and two counts of felony theft. K.C.S.D. Detectives initially began the ...
Darren Mattocks for their next two Major League Soccer matches, but will crucially have him available for the second leg of the Canadian Championship final against the Montreal Impact on May 29 before he departs. The five-times-capped 22-year-old has linked up with the Jamaican national team for a training camp in the Bahamas as the Reggae Boyz prepare for June's World Cup qualifying ...
BOSTON – A Dorchester man who works at a Jamaica Plain School has been held on $10,000 cash bail after being charged with trafficking ...
Kosciusko County Sheriff's detectives drove to Georgia last week and arrested Joanne McCrary, 74, Calhoun, Georgia, on two counts of felony money laundering and two counts of felony ...
Laois manager Justin McNulty has named his side for Sunday’s Leinster Championship clash with Louth and Donie Kingston has been included in the starting XV. Kingston withdrew from the squad last year to travel in the USA and also had issues with McNulty during this year’s Allianz League campaign as he felt he was not getting enough game time. McNulty has named an experienced side ...
News from around our Network
Showing 1 thru 3 out of 10More from our network
Showing 4 thru 6 out of 10More from our network
Showing 7 thru 9 out of 10More from our network