Splash Extra

Shipping and the mainstream press

It was not all that long ago that many newspapers in the Western press had dedicated shipping journalists. Now, aside from major hubs and business-orientated titles, such areas of shipping expertise are all too rare in the mainstream media. More’s the pity as the industry is a fascinating one to report on, and so vital to our everyday lives.

The loss of frontline shipping journos at the newsstand has coincided with a natural uptick in ignorant reporting on the topic. We’ve all, no doubt, seen any grounded ship spewing oil being referred to as a tanker on bombastic rolling news channels, despite the clear presence of, say, containers on deck.

The Christmas-at-risk headlines seem to get earlier every year

Then, there’s the more nuanced stories, the ones that us in the trade press might have been covering for weeks or months, but which go global late on in the news cycle and, more often than not, come with all manner of sensationalist, off kilter headlines.

In terms of recent evidence of this media trend, witness the frenzied scaremongering among many tabloids and broadsheets who should know better about families risking missing out on their Christmas shopping this year with all sorts of suggestions that we’re heading for a gloomy empty-shelved December thanks to congested supply chains. It is poppycock, of course, but it sells newspapers. The Christmas-at-risk headlines seem to get earlier every year. Who wins from this fearmongering? The retailers, of course, and the shipping lines.

Where our peers in the mainstream do get it right however is coming in from an outsider’s perspective rather than always reporting from inside the shipping bubble. Moreover, those reporters who file stories for mainstream titles are less likely to be swayed by potentially annoying an advertiser, but perhaps that’s a column for another time.


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Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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