Coast Prepares For Post-Katrina Media Frenzy - - The News for South Mississippi

Coast Prepares For Post-Katrina Media Frenzy

To make sure south Mississippi's message gets out, a committee called Mississippi Beyond Katrina just opened media centers in the three coastal counties. And the calls haven't stopped since the committee hooked up telephone lines and started answering media inquiries.

Nobody knows how many media outlets will return to south Mississippi and document the area's post Katrina recovery. Rich Westfall says whoever comes will hear the same message.

"We're very fortunate here on the coast to have a recovery that's moving forward at breakneck speed," the committee co-chairman said.

Mississippi Beyond Katrina formed in February to let the world know the area's recovery is gaining steam.

"It isn't difficult at all," Westfall said. "In fact, it's a wonderful story and a lot of people like to cover good stories."

In fact in recent weeks, newspapers like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and USA Today have spotlighted the positive aspect of the recovery efforts.

"That's the kind of story we would like to see," the co-chairman said. "We didn't want to focus on the damage and the destruction. We wanted to focus on what the coast was doing, the spirit of the coast and the rebuilding process."

One of the volunteers answering media phone calls is tourism worker Janice Jones.

"I do believe the message is getting out that we have a lot to offer for tourists as well as investors," she said.

Westfall is glad to hear that, because that was Mississippi Beyond Katrina's main goal.

"We're gathering as much information to substantiate that type of story and to get the positive word out about the coast recovery," he said.

For example, instead of focusing on the estimated 24,000 people in the three coastal counties who left after the hurricane, Mississippi Beyond Katrina will remind the media that the population in Pearl River, Stone and George Counties went up after the storm by more than 10,000.

"I think we have a wonderful story to tell," said Westfall.

by Brad Kessie

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