Miami Program: Writing Awards & Digital Demands

The BWI meeting in Miami takes place on the traditional day and time – that’s Friday morning February 12th. Doors open at 8 a.m. Location is the new show site on Virginia Key in the Waterside Cafe overlooking the in-water docks to the left side of the entrance. Timing provides a buffer for those navigating the new to-show transportation routine.

Writing Awards will be presented along with a panel discussion focused on “What Editors Want and How They Want It from Freelancers and Marketers,” to examine how the digital revolution has changed the editorial marketplace and what editors now expect. A joint effort with colleagues from Marine Marketers of America, BWI and MMA Director Michael Sciulla will moderate a notable panel of editors, freelancers and marketers including:  Kevin Falvey, Editor-in-Chief, Boating magazine; Marilyn Mower, Editorial Director-USA at Boat International Media; David Pilvelait, COO of Home Port Marketing; Jim Rhodes, President/CEO of Rhodes Communications; and Bill Sisson, Editor-in-Chief, Soundings Publications.

The Miami International Boat Show is moving to its new home on Virginia Key at Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin, February 11-15. In addition to taking a taxi or Uber or driving and parking at an offsite parking lot, the show’s transportation plan offers free water taxis and shuttle buses from various hotels and downtown locations, as well as from Strictly Sail Miami and Yachts Miami Beach. For more information on transportation to and from the show visit

Writing Contest Again Offers 17 Categories

The 2015 BWI Writing Contest competition will recognize – for the 23rd year – the best marine journalists in the world and present cash awards to first- ($500), second- ($300) and third-place ($200) scorers. Categories have been maintained as last year, though several were recently added or updated in 2014, including “Boating Photography,” “Online Expressions” and “Gear, Electronics and Product Tests.”

Details, category definitions and entering information for the contest are contained in a digital brochure which can be accessed through this link, The brochure and results of previous years’ contests, including links to the winning articles, posts, etc., can also be found above by clicking on the “Contest” tab.

Need a Boat Writer? Use Our Directory

BWI’s Online Writers Directory continues growing with new members joining the ranks and includes more than 120 listings. It allows visitors to this website to find boating and fishing writers and communicators by name, geography, writing specialty, website, blogs – and any data that is loaded into the directory is searchable. To see the listings, click on the “Directories” tab above, and then on “Active Writers Directory” on the left of the new page that comes up. Note to BWI members and others interested: The Online Directory is a member benefit and requires input and updating by members that use it. For those who have not yet added information, a private link is needed for access and available by contacting

Award Best Boating Writing of Past Year

Boating and fishing journalists were recognized February 13 during the Miami Boat Show in the culmination of an annual writing contest conducted by the membership of Boating Writers International (BWI). Presentations in 17 contest categories representing $17,000 in awards were made Read more »

Drones & Contest Winners Fly in Miami

The traditional Friday morning gathering of writers, media supporters and wellwishers coupled to a newsy presentation and update from the marine electronics world is on tap for February 13th from 8 to 10 a.m. in rooms A 204-205 of the Convention Center.

Boating Media’s Dawn of Drones will include a panel of expert fliers from Miami Aerial Drones to demonstrate the newest drones, lessons learned and from the membership, and efforts to develop a code of conduct and ethics that drone users are developing in concert with the FAA.

For several years, friends at the National Marine Electronics Association have fed the ranks of hungry scribes as the breakfast sponsor and offered inside information on what’s going on in the world of marine electronics. This year will be no exception.

$17,000 will be presented to writers of over 50 boating and fishing focused stories, reports, how-tos, travelogues and blogs in print and on line judged by their peers as being the best in 2014. Another 60 journalists will be cited for Merit recognition for their creative efforts.

BWI’s annual meeting, awards ceremony and panel is open to all in the marine community and requires no ticket for admission.

Writing Contest Adds Photos, Videos

Boating Photography and Videos are being added to the Boating Writers International Writing Contest this year. Photography is a stand-alone category, while videos may be entered into the updated Online Expressions category. Electronics has been merged into a revised “Gear, Electronics & Product Tests” category. The Contest, which takes place in the last two months of the year and has a December 31 deadline for entries, will continue to have a total of 17 categories funded by BWI Supporting members. Last year’s contest attracted 131 participants submitting 337 entries. In addition to 51 cash awards totaling $17,000 — $500 for first place, $300 for second and $200 for third — Certificates of Merit are presented to writers who score within 95% of the third place awardees.

Details, category definitions and entering information for the contest are contained in a digital brochure which can be accessed through this link, The brochure and results of previous years’ contests, including links to the winning articles, posts, etc., can be found above by clicking on the “Contest” tab.

BWI members receive their first two entries for free; non-members may enter for $50 per entry. Entries are judged by BWI member journalists in the first weeks of the New Year. Contest announcement results and awards are presented during the BWI Annual Meeting at the Miami International Boat Show, February 13, 2015.

Media Events at FLIBS

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

Luncheon, Thursday October 30

BWI and Marine Marketers of America are co-producing a Thursday luncheon event on October 30 featuring Ed Cantu, Director of Consumer Insights & Planning for a major Hispanic marketing agency. His topic, “Strategies to Tap the Emerging Hispanic Market,” will include the results of a nationwide retail marine mystery shopping experience and consumer reaction to various marketing efforts.

Sponsors are Show Management and ACR Electronics. Of particular interest to journalists, ACR will present a short program and video about a couple who were rescued offshore on two separate occasions by the U.S. Coast Guard.

This well-attended annual gathering of communications professionals at the Bahia Mar Resort begins at 11:30 a.m. Advance register at Current BWI and MMA members can sign up for $33; or $38 for those paying at the door and non-members.

Breakfast Social, Friday October 31

Now in its third year, ZF Marine is a proud sponsor and host of the BWI media breakfast on Friday morning at FLIBS. Everyone who’s attended in the past says it’s the best kept secret of the show. Arrive early while getting to the show is easy, enjoy a European style breakfast and some quality time with fellow scribes.

BWI members are welcome to stop by Friday October 31 from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the ZF Marine booth – 1042, right beside the Engine Tent and just inside the South Gate entrance to the show at Bahia Mar. RSVP to

A llst of media events will be distributed to BWI members early in the week the show opens.

IBEX Adds Media Events

Opportunities to experience industry innovations, engage in seminars presenting boatbuilding methods and consumer issues, and network with both journalists and industry personnel are on tap for BWI members at this year’s International Boatbuilders Exposition & Conference in Tampa, FL September 30 to October 2. BWI has coordinated with show management to bring these offerings to members, most scheduled for the opening day.

To launch the conference, legendary basketball coach Bob Knight will present a motivational speech on “Winning” at the annual Industry Breakfast on Tuesday September 30. Thom Dammrich, NMMA president, will deliver the State of the Industry address followed by the presentation of four important industry awards including, The IBEX Innovation Awards judged by BWI members, the NMMA Hall of Fame Award, the Exhibitor Video Awards, and the Boating Industry Movers & Shakers Award.

“Pitch the Press” is a unique opportunity for media to meet with about a dozen exhibitors who have been chosen to briefly present a new product or service considered unique or innovative. During the one hour event, selected firms will be given 2 minutes to present their new product, or their company, followed by a 1 minute Q & A. All attending will be given a list of the presenting exhibitors plus a complete list of the Innovation Award entries for later reference and contact information. This takes place from 2 to 3 p.m. in Room 10 in the Convention Hall.

Members interested in craft improvement can utilize the IBEX seminar format. There is a wide offering of presentations that should be of interest to boating consumers (and publications that would likely want to report them). There are many potential topics ranging from boat surveys and valuation to avoiding onboard hazards, improving air and water quality aboard to adapting new land- and water-based electronics for water-based use. Educational offering are detailed at

To wrap up the day, IBEX is staging a “Party for a Purpose” from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Sail Pavilion outside the Tampa Convention Center. The event will give media a chance to network and learn about advocacy work for the boating industry while enjoying food, drinks, and entertainment. All exhibitors and attendees are invited. Anne Dunbar, IBEX Show Director, describes the function as, “The most social event of the show and an opportunity to learn about and get active in our industry’s critical advocacy work in Washington, DC.”

IBEX will have a working Press Room open throughout the show in Room 1 on the first floor. For those who may need lodging or other travel help, the show maintains a weblink at

BWI members are asked to request a breakfast invitation, register for Pitch the Press and arrange seminar participation details prior to the show opening. To do so, or for questions and other media Inquiries, contact Amy Riemer,, 978/502-4895.

’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.

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