Keeping the sea in mind

The Awards give recognition to those who promote maritime awareness and inspire people in their understanding of our dependence on the sea


Maritime Media Awards Brochure 2011

Photo: NASA

Who could have imagined that with just a click of a mouse you could find out the temperature of the sea, not only on the surface but deep down, anywhere in the world? Dr John Gould, in this brochure’s introductory article, explains the strides that have been made to take the pulse of the waters that sustain all life on planet earth.

Tom MacSweeney, last year’s Desmond Wettern Media Award winner, writes from the perspective of ‘the last island in Europe’, Ireland, whose great maritime traditions and resources are threatened with erosion just when they are most wanted to help solve the problems of employment in the current economic climate.

Michael Grey and Iain Ballantyne remind us that the UK has the most vibrant maritime press in the world. History, creative imagination and a common international maritime language make informed commentary by skilled journalists a most valuable commodity. But can their expertise reach beyond the maritime community’s limited audience, to the national media, when the maritime stories that are considered ‘newsworthy’ almost invariably focus on disaster, violation, conflict, danger, tension, threat and difficulty?

Of course some positive stories appear, such as the homecoming from a single- handed round the world challenge. But good news in seldom repeated, while the spectres of a burning oil tanker or the washed up cargo from the Napoli live on for an eternity, and are made worse with ghoulish archive footage of comparable disasters. It is this reinforcement of bad news that is so discouraging. Who wants to go to sea after that?

One aspect of our relationship with the sea that enjoys more positive treatment in the national media is maritime history, as Rear Admiral John Lippiett shows in his piece on the Mary Rose. The span of that history also provides the context for Captain John Sail’s article on the Merchant Navy Association, and its response to the needs of seafarers. This theme is in turn picked up in Nick Harvey’s article outlining the work of Seafarers UK in using the media to raise public aweareness of our dependence on the sea.

The nominations for this year’s media awards must dispel, in a most convincing way, the myth that life at sea has nothing to offer. The range of work demonstrates the wealth of talent to be found here in the UK . These writers, authors programme makers deserve to be heard more widely. Their stories may be disturbing, inspirational, or entertaining, but they are all well-considered and represent an invaluable contribution to the underpinning of a confident maritime culture.

The aim of The Maritime Foundation next year will be to build on the success of the Media Awards and create a new maritime media hub, through which talented people who have this gift to communicate, can have their work exposed to a much wider audience.