It sounds a bit ironic. I have been firing broadsides at the maritime press in Marine Café Blog. Yet, I myself was once an international shipping and ports journalist. That was a long time ago, when the internet was in its infancy and I had to dispatch stories to my UK editors by teletype.
But this is precisely the reason for my less-than-benign view of present-day maritime journalism. As the clichéd expression goes: been there, done that. The maritime press that I knew has changed, but not always for the better.
A dreary picture
Today, I see many reporters and editors doing the cut-and-paste routine. I see publications mindlessly mouthing the slogans of the International Maritime Organization and the campaign lines of the seafarer charities. Many have grown fat on press releases. The result is as conspicuous as an old man’s beer belly: an appalling uniformity in style and content.
How many interpretative and enterprising stories in a week or month are being served to readers? If it is not a press release disguised as news, it is a puff piece adulating some maritime character. Worse, some publications have done a bad job of reporting on important developments. One only has to take a look at the sloppy news reporting on the Philippine inspections conducted by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).
There are exceptions, of course, to this dreary picture of the maritime press. Some journalists still adhere to the traditional tenets of journalism. They cross-check their information. They try to analyse what is happening. And yes, they are not into licking the asses of those they write about.
Thanks to this small minority, today’s maritime press has not completely gone down the tubes.