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Have you ever wondered how a maritime publication can cover developments all over the world as though it had correspondents everywhere? Or why there is so much homogeneity in the news reporting? Well, you need not wonder anymore. The following facts should cast light on the workings of the maritime press. I speak as one who served for many years as a correspondent/contributor to British maritime trade journals and who continues to observe closely the state of maritime journalism as a blogger.

1

Recycling of published articles and cut-and-paste news writing are common practices.

Dwindling advertising revenues have ushered in the age of plagiarism in the maritime press. To survive, publications have had to reduce the size of their editorial staff. Why even hire correspondents when news materiol is readily availale from the internet? Those who still manage to work as correspondents are paid a paltry rate per word. So there is litle incentive to write original, enterprising stories.

2

The maritime press has become an echo chamber for PR firms.

Press releases are a godsend to maritime publications. They help fill up web pages and the pages of magazines and journals. On the other hand, they contribute to a mind-numbing uniformity in maritime news coverage. Even the headlines read alike. To make matters worse, the editors do little or no rewriting of news releases which are sent in, almost on a daily basis, by PR outfits.

3

Maritime publications play by the SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) rules of Google.

The Google search ranking of maritime news websites is a big thing for those who run them. Today’s maritime editors have to be conscious of the SEO rules, includng how story headlines should be phrased and what “key words” to use in the article. A higher ranking means a potentially higher visitor traffic. Or so it would seem. The reality is that original content is of prime importance when it comes to Google rankings.

4

Most editors don’t bother to vet articles submitted by staff reporters and corrrespondents.

The painful truth is that editorial vetting in the maritime press is rare. Editors are usually too lazy or too in a hurry to publish what they can. Consequently, maritime journalists often get away with recycling articles which have been published elsewhere or writing stories which contain factual errors.

Read my June 20 2019 post, Sloppy news reporting on EMSA Philippine audits.

5

Maritime awards given by leading mariime publications are all a marketing gimmick.

These “prestigious” maritime awards are, to borrow a line from Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” While they boost a lot of corporate egos, they are really meant to promote the organisation giving out the awards. It’s all part of ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ game played by many in the shipping industry. What benefit is there for the readers of the awarding publications? Zilch.

Read my February 2019 post, Maritime awards: what do they really mean?

~ Barista Uno

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