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Dec 8, 2021

5 @ 30: Reporter Janelle Chanona on Taking Everything “With a Grain of Salt”

In tonight’s edition of “News Five Remembers,” we bring you an interview, first conducted in 2016, with former reporter Janelle Chanona. Many of you know her from her current work with Oceana Belize, but we like to think she got her start in environmental advocacy during her nine years of covering stories for News Five. She was among the first Belizean journalists to put the spotlight on conservation and Belize’s many natural wonders and resources. But she covered a wide range of news, was one of our news directors, and even anchored the news—sometimes all in the same day.  Here’s Janelle Chanona on her days at Channel Five.


Janelle Chanona

Janelle Chanona, Former News Reporter

“Immediately, like the week after I graduated from college I sent my resume to 17 Regent Street and I had an interview one week later and was hired that month and hit the streets as a beat reporter. Never leave the station without some food (laughs), because you never knew where you were going to get dispatched to because you could be out, you could be home at the middle of the night, and you would get a phone call, and your day would start, you would be covering a fire, or you would be at a press conference and you would get a call saying there is an incident, there’s a murder, there’s something else, and you would have to go out there. I even remember people would say “I don’t know how you do your job, because I’da ‘fraid fi go ask so and so dis,” or “You no fraid fi like walk up to somebody and put a mic in their face?”…I understand it can be intimidating, but I think we should never lose  the sense that we have rights to ask questions and to get answers, and to be informed and engaged and to participate in what’s happening because if you don’t get those answers, that doesn’t mean whatever is happening does not impact you. You really had to be really cautious about eye witness accounts. I remember one (laughs) story where we got sent out, saying somebody had fallen off a lamp post and all the eye witness accounts was that this man was a gonner. He eyes were coming out, his bones were sticking out, his arms and all of this and so we document these multiple eye witness reports and then we get to the KHMH and as we are walking in, we almost kind of bump into somebody that was leaving, and so we asked the orderly like “Where is this guy that got… is apparently, like at death’s door?” because of this incident, and he’s like “See ah dey!” And it’s the same guy that is walking out with maybe a scratch on him. So it was always about taking everything with a grain of salt and questioning everything. I have to say because of being a journalist, I have been to places and met people that I never would have met were it not for this job. I’m talking you know, way back-a-bush, way out da caye, the smallest villages, the smallest communities, but that had the biggest stories and I loved being able to be out there in the field, and documenting it and seeing what life was like. I really think the legacy of News 5 and the station is that they really brought every Belizean that had access what was happening out there in Belize. Whether it was droughts in Blue Creek or the water coming back at Five Blues Lake, or some caye that had been levied, or some island that had been sold, whatever it was, good, bad, ugly and in between, they were telling the story and it was objective reporting and it was presenting what was out there so that you could then be informed and get to your own conclusion.  It’s really, I think the legacy is the people that have worked here and continue to work here, are I think striving to keep up that reputation. Without question, some of my like ever, best memories are at Channel Five, because of Channel Five, with the Channel Five crew.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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