Monday, September 27, 2010

Making the News

This past summer has been host to a number of notable events in maritime news. Too many as a matter of fact to keep up with. It amazes me how the world of maritime news, opinion and information has changed since I started sailing as a mariner on deep draft commercial ships.

Five or six years ago the only periodical I regularly paid any attention to was Professional Mariner which I was surprised to learn, was published very close to home in Portland Maine. For any mariner who has a subscription to this print magazine than you know that your chances of inclusion in one of their puff pieces on how special your niche of the industry might be is far less likely than your inclusion in the "Un-professional mariner" section which is what we all flip to. Reserved for the unlucky S.O.B.s involved in our worst nightmares,The Maritime Casualty pages are a catalogue of groundings, sinkings, collisions, injured or overboard crew, fires, spills and any other serious marine incident still under investigation.

As I spent more coffee breaks in the engine control room I began to notice more periodicals like Maritime Reporter and Engineering News and MarineLog both of which have an online presence. These periodicals focus more on business, technology and engineering and Marine Log has great editorials.

While these magazines have a lower to mid level management feel the Maritime Executive caters to top level management by interviewing CEOs of the largest maritime companies in the world. Each month the magazine features the achievements of industry executives, trends in politics and regulation and Op-Eds that are pro Merchant Marine. Maritime education and training is also a regular focus. MarEx also has a weekly emailing that stands out as a consistent source for current news and opinion which anyone with an interest in marine affairs should be subscribed to.

Of course these are only a few of the news sources for maritime content out there and are generally more broad in scope. Many other magazines and journals focus on narrower aspects of the industry such as ports, logistics, certain commodities and trades.

Unfortunately until a few months ago I really had to wait until I returned home from sea to empty out my post office box and catch up on several months worth of magazines that had piled up. Now that the world wide web has finally made it onto my ship the magazines can pile up all they want and I can still read the latest maritime news online.

Completely web based sites like gCaptain have begun to fill a new market where actual mariners with Internet access from sea can read content tailored to us, the operators, rather than articles tailored to those who can check their mail 365 days a year. Some of the best content out there right now is featured on gCaptain's weekly posting, Maritime Monday, which I discovered two years ago while visiting Guatemala. I couldn't help but gush a little in the comments section about how nothing else on the internet could fill a maritime news junkie in as quickly and entertainingly as this gCaptain feature.

Last and best of all are the blogs authored by people who live, work and play, or just have a genuine interest in the ocean. Only recently have I begun to make personal connections to some of their creators and it has opened my eyes to a community as inspired by the sea as they are dedicated to it's protection, enjoyment and usefulness to mankind as I am.

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