NASSAU, Bahamas, Friday May 25, 2012 – An American journalist who reported that “the poorest Bahamians typically create makeshift homes out of straw…” felt the full weight of Bahamian fury earlier this week.
Freelance journalist Nellie Day, whose article “What types of houses do people live in the Bahamas?” was posted on the website www.travels.com, provoked howls of protest from hundreds of understandably outraged islanders who read it online.
The offended Bahamians fought back, sending a barrage of blistering criticism to her Twitter feed. Others threatened to e-mail the host website and lodge complaints about the inaccuracies of the article.
The deluge of righteous indignation paid off, with the website, agreeing to take down the article.
In a story that read more like fiction than fact, Day also contended that “lower and lower-middle class” Bahamians dwell in “small beach shacks and huts” that are often built from “straw or wood”, materials which “are readily available along the beach” or at “industrial and retail outlets”.
The article was accurate in some respects, but many readers who left comments online said they found the inaccuracies “insulting”. Some called for Day to publish an apology.
On her Twitter feed, the freelancer, who is believed to be based in California, claimed she had visited and researched the Bahamas before she wrote the article.
“For the record, on this Bahamian story, I have travelled to the Bahamas, I did talk to locals and I did research what other agencies had to say,” she said.
Day’s “travel and research” nevertheless inspired her to state that many Bahamians make their living “farming or selling trinkets at the local straw markets” in her article. Some people jokingly commented that she must have visited the Bahamas in the 1960s.
The torrent of Bahamian invective prompted a response from Travels.com.
“The article in question was written by a freelance contributor, and not by a member of our staff. We have reviewed the article and determined that it does not meet the standards for our site, because of the number of factual inaccuracies in it,” a spokesperson said.
“Therefore, the article has been deleted from our site. It will take time for this change to show up on all of our servers, but the article will definitely be completely removed within the next 12 hours.
“We do sincerely apologise for any trouble or offense that this article caused,” the response concluded.