We often report on workshops, but today the media had a training of its own. The Belize Tourism Board organized a “Best practices for media reporting during a crisis situation” featuring Kendis Gibson, a reporter from MSNBC Live. Gibson was born in Belize, but went on to be a journalist in the US. Misty Michael, the director of marketing and industry relations at BTB, told how they collaborated with Gibson for this training.
Misty Michael, Director of Marketing & Industry Relations, Belize Tourism Board: “We had Kendis Gibson who is a reporter for MSNBC Live. We were able to partner with him through our US marketing agency ICF Next and we realized that tourism as a number one income earner for the country that there are a lot of things that happen within the industry and sometimes they way that these stories are brought across locally have a much wider international reach and the idea of Kendis coming in was for him to share his experience within the US media and journalism landscape, to share some best practices and his experience with the local media to explore ways in which we can still bring across the news that’s happening locally but minimizing the impact that it could potentially have negatively on the destination. Today is just one of the first steps towards achieving those closer relationships. We recently have instilled a little more capacity within our internal public relations and communications department so I think going forward the overall objective is to interact more frequently with the local media as well as our other industry partners and stakeholders to facilitate that easier flow of information.”
Gibson also spoke to us after the training and spoke about why this training was necessary, and the media can have an effect on tourists’ view of Belize.
Kendis Gibson, Reporter, MSNBC Live: “I grew up in Belize. I moved away and spent a good decade or so not being back here in Belize or even talking about Belize on TV much. The first time I started talking about it on TV was after there was a period of time where you had the Chicago News producer from an ABC station who was killed in Cayo, you had the guy who does the security software McAfee who was in the news at the same time how he got away through Guatemala or so and all that we were hearing about Belize was negative, negative, negative stuff, at least that’s what I thought. So part of my mission at least from my own little world was to try to get Belize mentioned not necessarily in a negative way, just to get the name out there so that we mention the name when the Olympics came on we made sure to put the Belize Olympic team on the air, it lasted two seconds and we do a medal count and we mention ‘oh and Belize has none’ but it was all in fun but it was also to contrast all the negative news that was coming out about Belize at least from my control. What we were talking about today is trying to give you guys a sense that we as journalists in the United States we realize that we have to be out there with the information but we also know that we have a larger role in our community whether it is just our circle of journalists or our country itself. So I pointed out how we would often not name the shooters in mass shootings lately, that used to be something when I started out in the business that we’d immediately feel it’s important to get that nugget of information out there. When I started in business we were showing dead bodies in body bags, we do not show that stuff anymore. So part of what I wanted to do here is to kind of say ‘step back, what are we benefiting from showing all that stuff, getting all the minute nugget of information out there that might not necessarily be true?’ What impact that has on your own community and the country’s image globally?”
The training was one hour long, and was held at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza.