BWI 2009 Membership Survey

Journalists who cover the world of boating have been affected like most others serving the recreational market, and they are experiencing additional buffeting from the sweeping changes taking place in general media. In a recently released membership survey, only 4 in 10 members of Boating Writers International (BWI) reported that their income has not changed since last year. Those who are earning less say they have seen a drop of up to 30 percent.

Looking ahead, BWI members are focused on learning to adapt to the accelerating changes in communications. BWI’s survey shows that members plan to, in order of preference: master social networking and new technologies, improve their websites and blogs, and create more material for online audiences. The harsh business climate is also reflected in their interest in copyright laws, contracts, and legal issues, to both protect their work and help assure that payment results from it.

“The 2009 BWI membership survey supports with data what I have been hearing anecdotally from our members with increasing levels of frustration,” says BWI President Kim Kavin. “Many of our industry’s top writers and editors have already been laid off or cut out of budgets, or they are afraid that they soon will be. The BWI Board, with these new survey results as guideposts, is working on initiatives to throw these journalists a financial lifeline. We have an idea for new media programs, and our Board is preparing educational programming to help individual journalists launch or improve their own revenue-generating websites. Nobody can say what editorial model will succeed in the long run, but our members are ready to bring their marine industry expertise to readers in every possible way.”

The typical BWI member falls in the “boomer” camp, is engaged full-time in the writing profession, and has been for 10 or more years. Seventy-one percent are male, 65 percent are 51 years or older, and 65 percent are freelancers who earn the majority of their income from magazines covering boats 80 feet or smaller. Other areas of work include:
– Editing, 40%
– Photography, 40%
– News writing 30%
– Newsletter writing 23%
– Public relations 23%
– Book writing 17%
– Website content development 16%

Other survey responses indicated:
– Half of the writers are earning less than $30,000 a year (though 11 percent are raking in six figures)
– More than half have a website or blog
– More than half want to participate in forums to discuss issues of relevance among BWI members, a request that BWI recently met by creating a forum on the LinkedIn social networking website. More than 150 BWI active, associate, and supporting members are already participating in online conversations there.
– A desire to expand BWI’s popular annual Writing Contest with categories such as best photography, best website, and best blogs.

Complete results of the survey can be found at:

BWI is a non-profit professional organization consisting of writers, publishers, broadcasters, editors, photographers, public relations specialists and others in communications associated with the recreational boating industry. Members include active marine journalists across the U.S., in Canada and worldwide, supporting marine manufacturers and service entities, and associates in communication roles.