’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 Awards Presented for 2013

Boating and fishing journalists were recognized in Miami on February 14  in an annual writing contest conducted by the membership of BWI. Presentations in 17 contest categories representing $17,000 in awards were made to first ($500), second ($300) and third ($200) place scorers. Cash award recipients also received a recognition plaque noting their “Excellence in creating compelling stories about the boating lifestyle through entertaining, educational and inspiring journalism.”

A reading list with click-throughs to the top three entries in each category can be found here:

Read more »

Miami Annual Meeting February 14

Some of the boating industry’s most innovative thinkers will share their insights on “How to Make Recreational Boating More Affordable and Attractive” during a panel discussion hosted by Boating Writers International (BWI) at the Miami International Boat Show on Friday, February 14. Panel participants will include Brunswick Chairman and CEO Dusty McCoy, SunTrust Bank SVP Don Parkhurst, Legendary Marine Managing Partner Fred Pace and Freedom Boat Club CEO John Giglio.

A lively and productive discussion is expected as the event will be moderated by Soundings Editor-in-Chief William Sisson and BWI Board Member Michael Sciulla who is producing the program.

“While there has been much talk within the industry about what needs to be done to grow boating, this event should enable us to drill down and get some answers,” said Sciulla.

The panel discussion will be held during the second half of BWI’s annual meeting which runs from 8 to 10 a.m. in rooms B 118-119 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Newly-elected Chairman of the National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA), Johnny Lindstrom, a design engineer at Westport Shipyard, will introduce his group’s new portal to help consumers choose the right electronic equipment and offer guidance on proper installation. NMEA is the breakfast sponsor for the morning.

BWI’s Annual Writing Awards amounting to $17,000 and judged as being the best in 2013 will also be presented to writers of over 50 boating and fishing focused stories, reports, how-tos, travelogues and blogs in print and on line.

The entire event is open to the marine community and requires no ticket for admission.

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

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

Writing Contest Results for 2012

Top marine journalists in the U.S. and beyond  were recognized in mid-February during the Miami Boat Show in 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 to first ($500), second ($300) and third ($200) place scorers. Cash award recipients also received a recognition plaque noting their “Excellence in creating compelling stories about the boating lifestyle through entertaining, educational and inspiring journalism.” Read more »

BWI Miami Meeting February 15

Boating writers who didn’t have the opportunity to participate in the industry’s three “growth summits” over the past year will be able to discuss where the industry is heading with boating leaders during BWI’s annual meeting at the Miami International Boat Show on Friday, February 15 from 8 to 10 a.m. in room B 118-119 of the Convention Center. The interactive session begins at 9:00 a.m., immediately following the organization’s annual awards ceremony.

Members of a recently formed “Boating Leadership Council” steering committee, composed of Marine Retailers Association of the Americas president Matt Gruhn, National Marine Manufacturers Association president Thom Dammrich and Marketing Communications committee members, Joe Lewis of Mount Dora Boating Center and Dean Waite, publisher of Soundings Trade Only, will be on hand to discuss their plans on how to grow boating.

“Boating writers who have a stake in where the industry is going and how it intends to get there will be able to share their views on what needs to be done to grow boating with the panelists as time has been set aside for an extended ‘listening session,’” said BWI director Michael Sciulla who is producing the open forum.

In addition to Marketing Communications, other committees formed include: Affordability, Youth, Diversity, Education and Advocacy. For more information on these committees go to: Complete reports on the Recreational Boating Growth Summits can be found at:

BWI’s Annual Writing Contest award ceremony will kick off the Miami meeting as the 51 winners of top stories for 2012 will be recognized and $17,000 in awards presented. The National Marine Electronics Association is the breakfast sponsor for the overall BWI program: its executive director, Bruce Angus, will offer an outlook for the 2013 electronics market and identify key issues for journalists and others.

The entire event is open to the marine community and requires no ticket for admission.

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