Member News

’14 Survey: State of Boating Journalism

Boating journalists are doing a good job keeping up with the technological, product and structural changes taking place in the marine industry they cover, but there are significantly fewer writers and they are growing older and poorer in the process. (Link to complete survey here.)

This thumbnail sketch is taken from the May 2014 survey of members of Boating Writers International compared with a similar analysis made five years ago. This year, 85 of 300 Active members (those who are active writers and communicators) provided feedback; in 2009, 95 of 400 Active members provided responses. The 25 percent drop in BWI membership in that time frame is reflective of significant consolidation in both the recreational marine and boating publishing industries.

The writers report widespread participation in the shift to digital in writing, running their businesses and promoting themselves. Close to half (46%) maintain their own websites, one third are active with blogs and forums, and 18% are posting videos on line. They are engaged on Facebook (70%), LinkedIn (67%), Google (40%) and Twitter (25%).

Magazines continue to be the primary clients for the writers, noted by 79% of respondents in ’14 and 83% in ’09, while blogging and website development work increased to 40% from 27% in the same period. Other notable changes in revenue sources shifted in marketing/advertising work to 28% from 9%, videography to 17% from 10%, and book writing to 21% from 17%. Revenue reported from newsletters, editing, public relations, TV and radio decreased in the period.

The boat writing profession continues to be populated by 70% men and 30% women, little changed over the past five years. The largest age group, 38%, moved into the 60-70-year range from the 50-60-year range, now 25%, in the period. Under 50 members now total 19% while the over 70 crowd grew to 15% from 9%. Annual income generally shifted downward, reflected in 29% of the writers reporting less than $10,000, the largest category, followed by those making  $20K – $30K (9% down from 13%) and $30K – $40K (unchanged at 8%). Three other income categories increased, led by $60K – $70K to 8% from 6%. Overall, the income change from 2012 to 2013 was reported by roughly equal thirds of the members as up, down or the same.

Asked how BWI could help them to improve their endeavors, members pointed to better understanding social networking and new technologies, marketing their work to traditional and digital publishing outlets and improving their blogging potential. They also seek more information on jobs and freelancing opportunities, ways to better monetize their digital efforts, and greater networking with their peers and industry personnel.

To see more detail on the survey and answers to open-ended questions and “other” comments, click here.

New Officers, Directors Elected

Boating Writers International (BWI) members have re-elected five Directors and its Board has elected three new Officers. Officers elected to one-year terms are Freelance Writer Alan Wendt, President; Editor of Lakeland Boating Magazine Lindsey Johnson, 1st Vice President; and Writer & Editor Lenny Rudow, 2nd Vice President.

Wendt has been a member of BWI for nearly two decades, volunteers as a writing contest judge, Innovations Awards judge, served as a board member for the past five years and First Vice President the past two years. Johnson has been a member of BWI since 2003 and has served as chair of the BWI Writing Contest Committee for the last seven years and as Second Vice President the past two years. Rudow has been a writer and editor in the marine field for over two decades, authored six books, gained numerous BWI writing awards and served as a Director the past two years.

In addition to Wendt and Johnson, others re-elected as Directors included:

· Zuzana Prochazka, editor of Talk of the Dock and freelance writer for a number of boating magazines and online venues;

· Alan Jones, a full-time writer and editor for Boating World Magazine for 16 years and most recently a contributing editor for Sea Magazine;

· Roger McAfee, a freelance writer for several boating magazines, seminar presenter at boat shows and author of two marine books.

Continuing as Directors are: Immediate Past President John Wooldridge,  editor-in-chief of Yachting; Michael Sciulla, a Soundings Trade Only columnist and communications strategist; and Heather Steinberger, a writer and editor whose work appears in a variety of regionally and nationally circulated magazines. BWI executive director Greg Proteau serves as secretary/treasurer of the board.

Writing Contest Launches

BWI’s Annual Writing Contest is open for submissions. There are 17 categories reflecting a prize purse of $17,000. A new category, “Boat Projects, Renovations & Retrofits,” has been added while there is a place for everyone who has entered in the past. Entrants simply upload entries as PDF files or URL links. The entry form provides the process for “doing the paperwork,” loading entries and paying for dues and extra entries by check or PayPal. Deadline for entries is December 31, 2013.

2013 marks the contest’s 21st year when the best marine journalists in the world will receive cash awards for first- ($500), second- ($300) and third-place ($200) scores in 17 categories. Presentation of awards will be made at the Miami International Boat Show in February 2014.

Everything needed to participate is contained in a special Contest Brochure accessible by this link:

BWI Lauderdale ’13 Events

Join colleagues for some networking, learning, and nourishment during lunch and breakfast events at the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show.

Luncheon, Thursday October 31

BWI and Marine Marketers are once again co-producing a Thursday luncheon event at noon on October 31. Author and digital-media marketing expert, Julie Perry, will explore the prospect of using “reality” TV as a cost-effective advertising and marketing platform as well as using it to grow boating. Those who have been around for a while may remember Julie as the face of “The Boaters TV” as well as the author of “The Insiders’ Guide to Becoming a Yacht Stewardess.”

Julie’s presentation will also take a look at Bravo TV’s new hit series, “Below Deck” — a takeoff of the British television series Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs — which chronicles the adventures of the crew of the 164-ft. M/Y Honor and their charter guests. Her yachting-career guidebook, was a must-read resource for members of the Below Deck crew during filming. The audience for the series, which was recently renewed for a second season, climbed from 1.1 million viewers at launch to 1.8 million viewers during its last episode.

Below Deck star and chief stewardess of the M/Y Honor, Adrienne Gang, will be on hand to add a celebrity touch to the event.

This gathering of communications professionals will once again be held in the Grandview Room of the Bahia Mar Resort and is co-sponsored by Info-Link and FLIBS.  Advance register at, where current BWI and MMA members can sign up for $30; cost is $35 for those  paying at the door and for non-members. Members who wish to attend but do not want to eat may do so at a cost of $5.

Breakfast Social, Friday November 1

BWI members and guests can get a good start  to the busy second day of the Lauderdale Show with breakfast courtesy of ZF  Marine from 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. Compare notes with other BWI members, share the  buzz of the first day, and have a one on one discussion  about the industry from a supplier’s perspective with the ZF Marine’s executive  team. Enjoy a European breakfast with all the trimmings in advance of appointments when the show opens at 10 a.m. ZF Marine’s booth is #1042, right beside the Engine Tent and just inside the South Gate entrance to the show at Bahia Mar. No sign-up required.

Next Webinar – Health & Taxes

BWI’s next webinar for individuals and small businesses will focus on major provisions of the Affordable Care Act taking effect and how  to prepare for expected tax changes and ways to hold on to more income. Harry W. Riley, III and David N. Brown, who operate an Indianapolis-based financial services firm offering access to insurance and financial planning services, will lead the next writers’ webinar. Riley and Brown provide personal and retirement consultation and services for members of The Society of Professional Journalists.

On the health care front, experts suggest focusing on what individuals and employers must know under the new health care rules including coverages, penalties, premiums, etc. The rules are in flux and extremely complicated, but should be anticipated and applied in personal and business finance situations.

Top concerns for tax issues are identified as stopping overpayments, claiming all deductions and credits, avoiding IRS audits, maximizing expenses, leveraging retirement plans, knowing new tax provisions and those that may expire soon.

To be scheduled this fall, this will be the eighth BWI Educational webinar made available through the continued support of Dometic Marine.

BWI members will be invited to the webinar. Others with interest in attending this free program can sign up by sending an email request to

Writers Webinar Series Grow to Seven

BWI’s series of educational webinars now have grown to seven, all posted on this site for viewing by members and others from the industry with interest. Click on the “webinar” tab above for access to any of  them.

Included are “How to Start a Blog for About $10,” presented by Kim Kavin; “Drive Traffic with Social Media” by Diane Byrne;  “Conducting Successful News Events & Product Introductions” by Alan Jones;  “Writer Contract & Legal Issues” by Milton Toby, chair of the Contracts Committee for the American Society of Journalists and Authors;  “Repurposing & Syndicating Your Work” by Alison Yesilciman, founder of Media Cooler Innovations; “Video Basics: Improving Your Presentations” by Ed Kukla of Starboard Films; and “How to Score Work Outside the Boating Industry” with Lenny Rudow and friends.

All of these webinars have been made possible by sponsor Dometic Marine, a supplier of dedicated systems and equipment for recreational and commercial boats.

Journalist Future: Speed & Video

BWI’s Miami Newsmaker panelists discussing the “Future of Marine Journalism” offered a frank assessment of continuing challenges for writers and what publications and websites will be seeking in the near future. Common themes are that all in media are having to produce more with less, expect flawless stories and images, view deadlines as ever more important, and that video is becoming the new “sidebar” to articles. Advice to writers: be useful, agreeable and indispensable, find ways to add value, increase delivery speed, and keep up with the technology. Read more »

Future of Marine Journalism

With so many changes sweeping through the boating and publishing industries this past decade, BWI has assembled a roundtable of senior publishing executives to discuss what the future holds in store for the boating media and for journalists – working both on and offline – during the Miami International Boat Show.

BWI will present, “The Future of Marine Journalism,” during its bi-annual meeting beginning at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, February 18, at the Miami Beach Convention Center, room A 204-205. Read more »

BWI Grand Prize Awarded

Liz Walz, editor-in-chief of Boating Industry magazine, has received the top honor Boating Writers International presents to a journalist, The BWI Grand Prize Writer’s Award.

Announcement of the award, consisting of a $2,500 check and a crystal trophy, was made during the BWI membership meeting at the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show today. Walz, of Manlius, NY, has served as an editor of the magazine for 10 years and oversees the mission for all of its outlets, including a website, e-newsletters, blog, white papers, “Top 100 Dealers Program” and more.

Walz’s feature article, “The New Word-of-Mouth,” a persuasive treatise on why businesses need social networking strategies and how to implement them, was published in the June, 2009 issue of the magazine. It goes deep in research, reporting how experts leverage social media then ties compelling industry-specific examples to prove the promises. Illustrating each of the social sites, the writer removes the mystery of participation, explains how to “listen” and “respond,” then ardently suggests clicking in. The article was first recognized in the Business of Boating writing category earlier this year, one of 51 award winners in the 2009 BWI Annual Writing Contest. The top three entries in each of 17 writing categories were considered for this grand prize.

Judges said of Walz’s entry, “This is soooo on target. The right stuff at the right time. The writing is crisp. Organization is about perfect. You can not read this without learning something – painlessly even in these painful economic straits. This makes for a most significant story. And the accompanying graphics accentuate the text – great package!”

Judges for the Grand Prize Award are associated with Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and have had careers in newspapers, magazines, broadcasting and on-line enterprises. They include: David Nelson, Professor of Media Management and Ethics; Michele Bitoun, Senior Director of Undergraduate Education and Teaching Excellence; and Professor Marcel Pacatte, Managing Editor of the Medill Reports website.

Several additional entries were cited by the judging team for excellence in writing:

  • “It Was A Club of Their Own” by Ann Dermody in BoatUS Magazine: “This is good, engaging writing. It tells one heckuva story about the nation’s first all-black yacht club. Excellent reporting and graphics help explain the conditions these sailors faced with important historical information tucked inside the text.”
  • “Bouncing Along the Bottom” by Michael Verdon in International Boat Industry: “This technical / economic story is straightforward in presentation and well supported by graphics. That makes for an important piece of journalism. This is an exception to the rule: Long, in-depth work can make a difference and people will read it.”
  • “” by Bill Sisson: “The Two-Minute Mechanic and Complete Guide to Winterizing were incredibly helpful, well-thought-out and well-produced. Perfect web content. Overall, a great news website that reflects the print product and yet offers users the navigation and organization that they expect.”

Book Offers Boat Adventures for Kids

Authors David Seidman and Jeff Hemmel are calling their new collaboration a book for parents who want to introduce their kids to the world of boats, boating and the sea.

The Anti-Pirate Potato Cannon…And 101 Other Things For Young Mariners To Build, Try, And Do On The Water” (International Marine; June 2010) provides dozens of adventures and activities for kids, and projects parents and kids can do together. Read more »

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