While putting a few thoughts together at the end of April and looking ahead towards May, I found myself hoping this Editor’s Log would find you and your family safe, and finally on the downside of the COVID-19 crisis. Sadly by this point I’m sure we’ve all experienced the six degrees of separation (or closer) arising from a serious pandemic. Somewhere, somehow, someone we know has suffered through Coronavirus, some successfully, others not so much. Hopefully we’ll be on the recovery road to normalcy soon enough.
Thinking back to the cancellation of the Saltwater Fishing Expo, I recall a few early comments aimed at show organizers, criticizing the decision as stupid, fear mongering, ridiculous and media hype. One week later, the entire country would be in cancellation mode. When you consider that there were more than 13,000 attendees at the 2019 Saltwater Fishing Expo, the organizer’s 2020 decision was pretty solid. The New Jersey Convention and Expo Center, site of the annual fishing expo, would end up being turned into a 500-bed “pop-up” field hospital by early April, something to keep in mind come show time 2021!
Navigating the guidelines and restrictions this season has been a challenge. My job of course is a unique one – both a blessing and an honor – in that my sole responsibility is to report on news and information related specifically to fishing. In my regular video forecasts posted online every Thursday afternoon, I’ve done my best to update folks on the ever-changing rules and regulations affecting recreational fishermen during the crisis. And I’ve been quickly reminded that there are two sides to every broadcast.
When spelling out the state’s COVID-19 fishing guidelines for social distancing, I’d get hit with criticism from one extreme stating, “This is ridiculous to encourage or even think about fishing.” Conversely, while encouraging folks to fish smart to help stem the pandemic’s reach while preserving our access rights, the other extreme would jump in with “Please stick to fishing reports, leave the doom and gloom hype to the media.”
My personal favorite was the guy who apparently took a screenshot of a Facebook conversation and claimed I was “telling people to not abide by the law,” referring to me as “former editor of The Fisherman Magazine,” which I can only guess was a not so veiled reference to his plans for reporting me to the proper authorities. Never heard back from the governor or the state police; so far so good!
I guess if I jerked my knee in reaction to every bit of criticism leveled my way as a member of the recreational fishing media, I’d be shopping around for a good arthroplastic surgeon about now, and you’d end up digesting a whole lot of pablum in terms of fishing news; not something either one of us would find palatable. Deserved or not, the mainstream media gets hit pretty hard in today’s political climate. Having cut my teeth in a few traditional news operations when I was younger, I’m pretty blessed today as editor of a ‘mom and pop’ media outlet that’s dedicated exclusively to recreational fishing. That’s a bias I’m proud to hang around my neck!
For my fellow writers and news junkies alike, you may appreciate the words of former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, who 4 years ago offered the following journalistic advice that I keep posted to my desk to this day; I like to insert the word “fishermen” in place of “Americans” periodically to keep me focused on my duty to The Fisherman’s readers and advertisers.
“If you’re a writer lucky enough to have thoughts and be paid to express them and there are Americans on the ground struggling, suffering – some of them making mistakes, some unlucky – you don’t owe them your airy, well-put contempt, you owe them your loyalty.”