Belize Reporter Newspaper
The Reporter Newspaper was originally launched as the Belize Chamber of Commerce newsletter in 1967. Its name was thereafter changed to The Chamber Reporter. The founding editor was Zee (Zelma) Edgell, now a novelist residing in the U.S. Ms. Edgell gained local fame after publishing a well-received novel Beka Lamb.
The newspaper featured local news, business reports and other information on Belize. For most of the 1970s, its main competitor was the Amandala that came on the market two years later. Harry Lawrence was involved in the formation of Belize Liberal Party, which was later absorbed by the United Democratic Party, the UDP. in 1972. Mr. Lawrence ran for the Belize City municipal elections in 1974 and 1977 under the U.D.P. banner. He won, and the Reporter has been identified as a pro-UDP newspaper ever since. Mr. Lawrence and his family eventually acquired The Reporter newspaper after U.S. funding for the Belize Chamber of Commerce dried up. It has been published continuously as a weekly newspaper since then from its offices at the corner West and Allenby streets in southside Belize City.
The Reporter was the first Belize newspaper printed with offset press technology. It started off with a small A.B. Dick commercial press. Eventually it acquired a larger Multilith offset printing press and eventually Belize's first web offset Goss Community printing press. Being the voice of the business community it is started off a well-financed operation and today maintains close contacts with U.S. based publishing interests and business lobbying groups.
Early writers in the newspaper included Paul Rodriguez and Manuel Esquivel - both U.D.P. stalwarts. Mr. Rodriguez went on to become Mayor of Belize City and Mr. Esquivel served as prime Minister of Belize. Another U.D.P. stalwart Colville Young, at the time a music teacher, contributed the newspaper's weekly crossword column. He is currently (2011) the Governor General of Belize.
The Reporter was one of the three newspapers successfully sued in 1982 by then prime minister George Price over a libelous article. The Reporter was fined for its actions in this regard along with the Amandala, but the third newspaper The Beacon's case was never heard.
The newspaper has had a number of news editors over the years including Paul Rodriguez, Maria Heusner Marshall, Manolo Romero, Meb Cutlack, Karla Heusner, Anne Marie Williams and Nial Gillet. Despite being well funded by local and foreign business interests, The Reporter was never able to successfully compete with the Amandala which is seen as a more grass roots oriented newspaper. The Reporter is perceived as representing big business and being too closely connected with the United Democratic Party and has never been able to shake off this image. Mr. Lawrence has been happy running The Reporter as the country's second largest paper for decades now. Unlike its arch rival the Amandala, it has never delved into broadcast journalism or event promotion.
Mr. Lawrence is 78 and semi-retired. The ruling United Democratic Party in 2011 appointed him Ambassador to the Vatican.
You can also check our our Belize News page.