On Wednesday, we were treated to a story by the major tv stations that an 85 year old woman had been given an eviction notice on her government apartment by the Housing Development Corporation (HDC), and the story appeared in the newspapers on Thursday. Here's the Newsday's version (no byline).
The television reports showed us the elderly woman hobbling around her tiny apartment which seemed chock full of all her life's possessions, which had been accumulated over the 60 years she said she had lived in the apartment. Then we saw a shot of her sitting in the doorway surrounded by media people outside the front door (because the apartment was too small for everyone to fit inside). Also by her side were Laventille activist Lennox Smith and a female activist from Port of Spain.
Two of the reports told us the woman admitted that her son had bought her a house in D'Abadie which she was using as a source of income. The media reports also said no one from the HDC could be reached for comment.
But did any of the reporters bother to do any further investigation of this story before they hurriedly reported on it in the midday and 7pm newscasts, and printed it in the newspapers, and called for heads to roll at the HDC for this heartless act?
Well the truth came to light on Thursday during the post-cabinet press briefing, when the Housing minister told the members of the media gathered that "investigations by the HDC revealed that Gowing is living in a house at Piarco Branch Road in D’Abadie but renting her apartment in Port-of-Spain." (One bedroom is reportedly being rented for $600.00 a month, while the pensioner only pays $100.00 a month in rent to the HDC).
The minister also indicated that the pensioner had lived outside of Trinidad for 25 years of those 60 years she claimed she had been living in the apartment.
So how come that same information which was made available to the HDC's investigators was not dug up by any one of the reporters who covered the story?
Well that's what your investigative skills, or lack of, will get you.
BTW, did anyone follow up the story on Friday to get a response from the pensioner, or the activists who were quick to jump to her defense and condemn the government?
Probably not, because it would show up the faults in the original story. Tsk tsk.