Belize reporters win International Belize Biodiversity Awards

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 17, No. 48            December 13, 2007

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Journalists from print, radio, and television media countrywide participated in first edition Biodiversity Reporting Awards in Belize for this 2007. On Thursday, December 6th, Journalists from Channel 5-Great Belize Productions, Plus Television and The San Pedro Sun were the special awardees who won with their excellent reporting of environmental issues affecting their respective communities. The contest was based on sustainable development and the conservation of biodiversity in Belize. The winners received their award certificates and cash prizes at the award ceremony at the Radisson Fort George Hotel in Belize City on December 6th, 2007.

    Janelle Chanona of Channel 5-Great Belize Productions was awarded the first prize in the contest with her story which was based on consultations with several scientists who spoke on the draining of the Five Blues Lake, a reservoir in Belize, due to a geological shift, together with a second story disclosing that the reservoir filled again. The second prize went to Shannon Arnold Harrison of Plus Television with her piece on proposed initiatives to sell huge quantities of Belizean fresh water to a private company for resale to parched neighbors like Mexico. Kainie Manuel and colleague Maria Novelo of The San Pedro Sun shared the third prize. Manuel’s piece emphasized the significance of Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve and National Park, a pristine protected area in Belize, while Novelo’s story centered on the serious challenges posed by illegal dumping to Belize’s island jewel, San Pedro. Kendra Griffith, another reporter from Channel 5-Great Belize Productions, got an Honorable Mention of the contest with her “fish kill” story.

    Present at the gathering to hand over the awards and plaques were Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources, Honorable Florencio Marin, and Perry Beeman, Representative for the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ). “We are pleased to see Belizean journalists taking such strong interest in environmental issues, which are so important to Belize. We congratulate these winners for serving as role models of strong environmental reporting in Belize,” said Rob Taylor, Director of Science and Environmental Programs for the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).

    The BioDiversity Reporting Award has consolidated itself as a powerful tool capable of encouraging the coverage of environmental and biodiversity issues and useful for building local and international alliances. By giving journalists professional incentives to pursue environmental stories, they in turn have taken steps to lobby for more space for environmental coverage in their local media. The contest was administered by the International Center for Journalists, with the generous support from The Oak Foundation, Protected Areas Conservation Trust-Belize, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Belize Environmental Reporting Network (BERN).

    The International Center for Journalists, a non-profit, professional organization, promotes quality journalism worldwide in the belief that independent, vigorous media are crucial in improving the human condition. Over the past 22 years, ICFJ has worked directly with more than 40,000 journalists from 176 countries. Their programs span five continents, and cover everything from media ethics and investigative reporting to business and environmental journalism. We offer hands-on workshops, international exchanges and conferences on hot topics like immigration and elections. Working in print, television, radio and online media, we help journalists to produce high-impact content. From all of us at BERN and ICFJ, congrats ladies, and keep up the excellent work!
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