The marine press has a powerful, influential position in the maritime industry. Articles impact people’s jobs, the viability of businesses and investors’ decisions.
Such an influential position comes, in my opinion, with a duty of care which should form part of a journalist’s ethos and should govern his or her desire to provide society with information.
The free press is given this influential position by society, but it is granted on the basis that its power and influence are used in an honest and transparent manner. The free press has the role of sharing news and indeed opinion. That right is linked to a requirement to explore and report facts as facts with an effort to validate and ensure the broadest sources of robust and transparent data and report opinion as just that, opinion. In a free press, opinion needs to be identified as such and stories that report on opinion should explore both sides of an argument. Failing to do so comes at the detriment of fair and equitable reporting.
In addition, journalists should take care to leave readers clear about the factual basis of the content their articles contain so that readers can make up their own minds and views or seek further information.
What we have observed recently in some of the marine press is a reporting of opinion that is biased to such an extent that it appears to be aimed at influencing the market or at undermining commercial decisions which may give some market players a significant competitive advantage.
A very large operator has recently made statements to the press and to regulators that it would not invest in Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS). In my opinion and the opinion of many marine colleagues, these statements were intended to distort the market and re-direct thinking among the operator’s competitors. In my opinion, the comments have been reported in the marine press without any effort to relate the other side of the story or with any regard to the consequences on other industry parties and the marine industry as a whole. Nor was an alternative economic assessment undertaken of such a far-reaching statement on the commercial viability of the line.
In recent days, a spate of similar stories have been published without any effort to explore the validity, robustness or motives behind the comments. This says nothing positive about the marine industry or the marine press. In fact, it reflects poorly on all of us and is not a great window into the industry for younger generations considering the maritime industry as a career prospect.
Don Gregory is director of the Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems Association (EGCSA).
The EGCSA was established to help create a sustainable operating environment within the marine and energy industry sectors for exhaust gas cleaning system technologies, providing clarity and a rational voice for those companies interested in reducing marine exhaust gas emissions. EGCSA provides impartial technical information, advice and opinion on the many current and future issues and challenges related to emissions reduction and marine exhaust gas cleaning systems.