THE EDITOR, Sir:
I am at pains to come to grips with the multitude of tragedies that have occurred in Zion district, Trelawny. Two young boys have died under seemingly mysterious circumstances; one man is dead after being set upon by a machete-wielding mob; and his family is now homeless and in fear for their lives after their house and possessions were set ablaze by incensed residents because they were believed to be sheltering the man responsible for the death of the boys.
My initial discomfort came with the sensationalist way in which the story was first reported on CVM by Andrew Canon on September 20. The story itself never actually revealed many facts and instead was apparently being used as a vehicle to convey the opinion of the newscaster on the identity of the culprit and also to ventilate the intentions of the angry residents to exact jungle justice.
In other words, it appears that the only point of the report was to send a grim warning to the putative assassin.
No police investigator was interviewed, no medical doctor, no one with expert or even cursory knowledge of how water affects the decomposition of corpses. Such insights would have done much to quell the bloodlust burning within the angry residents upon their discovery of peculiar aspects of the decomposing bodies.
Instead, the journalist allowed grief-stricken residents to paint a picture in the minds of the audience of a phantom paedophile that swooped down undetected into the quiet community and committed a "gruesome buggery". This, despite later reports on other media which revealed that the results of investigations pointed to drowning as the cause of death, with no apparent evidence of the "unspeakable savagery" described by Mr Canon in his report.
CLOSE SUPERVISION OF CHILDREN
The commander of the Area One Division even went as far as to urge parents to more closely supervise their children so that more incidents of children sneaking off to the river and drowning don't recur. Why was this not included in the report?
Is there not a responsibility on the part of the media house in its reporting of the facts to ensure that it does not inadvertently give licence to the intentions as conveyed by their subjects?
This episode highlights exactly how ignorance fuels mayhem and how sensationalism helped fan the flames of the fire that engulfed the home of innocent people.
I hope that CVM will learn something from this and that the families of all affected can one day find peace.