Posted on | October 22, 2012 | 2 Comments
How can we ever interest journalists and so-called “opinion-formers” in the maritime industry? It is a question that arises quite often, but no satisfactory answer ever emerges. Perhaps you can offer them prizes and awards for brilliant writing about our industry? After all, “Travel Writer or Financial Writer of the Year” seems to attract kudos.
Sorry, but it doesn’t seem to work. After having been a judge on one of these schemes for some years and seeing the downward spiral of interest in shipping in the marine industry in both national and provincial newspapers, I’m sure of it. Sure, the rare disaster sparks a nine day wonder amid the disaster junkies, except that it rarely seems to last nine days, and just occasionally, a financial journalist will make a foray into shipping, usually in the wake of a spectacular bankruptcy, or the emergence of terrible trade figures. But the only full press conference I recall in recent years was after a car carrier turned over, and the participants were all motoring journalists.
Back one of these hacks into a corner and ask him or her why they won’t write about what seems to us the most fascinating industry in the world and they will be apologetic, noting that if they turn up with a shipping story it will be instantly spiked. So why would they ever bother to write one, or even follow up a maritime lead? You go for what will bring you brownie points in the Editor’s eyes. “Money and markets” are what causes the news editor’s eyes to brighten which is why even our so called maritime publications are boring us witless, their staff oblivious to the extraordinary technology, the brilliant designs and the magic and mystery of ships as they shout about the significance of an imperceptible movement in the BFI. Yawn.
We all know the logical consequence of this failure to shift shipping out of the pages of the “enthusiast” magazines into the mainstream. It is a sad and everlasting lack of public awareness, that manifests itself in a failure to connect with politics, which leaves the industry floundering on the fringes of neglect, always on the defensive. And if there is no awareness, why would the brightest and best ever choose shipping as a career, afloat or ashore, even though it is arguably one of the most essential of industries, and a lot more fun than sitting grimly in a merchant bank, moving other people’s money around. Suggestions would be welcome.