Marine industry journalists affected by downturn

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Journalists who cover the recreational marine industry are feeling the effects of the downturn in numerous ways, according to the results of a recent survey of Boating Writers International members.

"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," BWI president Kim Kavin said in a statement.

She said the BWI board of directors is working on initiatives to "throw these journalists a financial lifeline." Ideas include new media programs and educational programming to help journalists launch or improve their own revenue-generating Web sites.

According to the survey, only four in 10 members of 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. Some of the ways BWI members plan to adapt to these challenging times include mastering social networking and new technologies, improving their Web sites and blogs, and creating more material for online audiences.

Other survey responses indicated:

• 65 percent of members are freelancers who earn the majority of their income from magazines covering boats 80 feet or smaller.

• Half of the writers are earning less than $30,000 a year (though 11 percent are making six figures).

• More than half have a Web site 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 Web site.

• A desire to expand BWI's annual writing contest with categories such as best photography, best Web site and best blogs.

Click here for the complete survey results.

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