Published On: Thu, Jun 27th, 2019

What’s in a name?

Hilbert Haar - Pirate PicBy Hilbert Haar

Frans presents motion to send Geerlings home. When I read that headline I scratched my head in wonder. And no, it is not my place to criticize the decision of any newspaper editor to allow such a headline – but it did make me wonder.

During all the years I have worked in St. Maarten I became familiar with the habit of addressing politicians by their first name in newspaper headlines. Sarah this, William that. Louie, George …. the list is not endless, but quite long.

I never followed that practice as the editor of the Today newspaper because I was – and I am – of the opinion that in dealing with politics this is way too chummy. Politicians are not your best friends – at least they shouldn’t be. A respectful relationship between journalist and politicians requires some distance.

But now I read that Frans presents a motion to send Geerlings home. What should I – or what should readers – make of this distinction?

Is Frans – MP Frans Richardson, subject to a criminal investigation into accepting $370,000 in bribes – on better terms with the writer that Finance Minister Perry Geerlings?

Does the sympathy of the writer of such a headline lie with Frans? Is there some wishful thinking behind this headline like, yeah, let’s send that other guy home?

I do not know, of course, but I wonder. A factual headline – MP Richardson presents motion to send Finance Minister Geerlings home – would have been my choice. Even better would have been: Opposition presents yet another motion of no confidence – because this is the second attempt in less than half a year.

Again, I do not intend to criticize. We live in a free world where even people with initials that are often used as an abbreviation for bullshit can write whatever they like. I just like to put things in their proper perspective.


Publisher’s Note: It is always a challenge to come up with a good headline for an article. It is an even bigger challenge to come up with a good headline that complies with limitations imposed by screens of the various devices in use and by social media systems and platforms that only allow a maximum width before the headline is cut off. For Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) purposes short headlines that are to the point and contain the relevant keywords of the news article score the highest in terms of positioning and ranking by social media platforms such as Google and Facebook. started in October 2017, right after hurricane Irma hit in September and the Today newspaper company closed its doors, and in this short period of time to the present date, is ranking 2nd on Google’s search results when it comes to the keywords “st. maarten news” and it is also ranking 2nd in Facebook rankings when comes to the likeability of news sites on St. Maarten. These rankings are partly due to the strategies implemented in the areas of SEO and SEM. Therefore, if necessary, this publisher will use the first names of well-known politicians who have become household names on St. Maarten when determining a good headline for an article. Read about how “Frans presents motion to send Geerlings home” here. It is an optimized headline geared towards maximizing the engagement of readers. It even got the attention of our independent journalist and author Hilbert Haar, proving that attention is the most sought after commodity on the internet.

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Another motion of no-confidence