“I think social media is so important in the law, particularly for bloggers these days. It’s a really effective way of receiving information—especially from people you wouldn’t normally hear from.”
If you know anything about legal blogging, you’ve probably heard Jim Walker’s name. Jim has been authoring his blog, Cruise Law News for 12 years, and he’s been putting content on Twitter for even longer. Following the blog came his Facebook page, which now has over 240,000 followers.
After spending the beginning of his career defending corporations, he grew disillusioned with the corruption and immorality that riddles the cruise industry.
“The cruise industry is a prime example of an unregulated situation,” he explained.
He decided to switch his work to defending and advocating for the crew members and passengers that had been victimized by the cruise conglomerates.
“These weren’t accident cases, they were assault and corruption and neglect cases.”
That’s when he started sharing his thoughts online.
“Before I had a blog, the first thing I had was a Twitter page. And I started to talk about issues that I liked. Kevin O’Keefe has always said that to write an effective blog, you have to be genuine and authentic. That concept has always stayed with me. So, I found myself initially going on social media—and Twitter specifically—and talking about things I’m interested in, things that the cruise lines were doing, like water pollution, air pollution, etc. I’m lucky to be in an area of the law dealing with a broad array of issues, so there’s a lot to talk about.”
The transition from social media to blogging was seamless.
“And then, Kevin helped me start my blog in 2009. When I created the blog, I just continued to do the types of things I was doing on Twitter, but I had a better format to write and express myself. I would find myself approaching the things I would write about out of a genuine concern. So, I guess it came across that I was being authentic, if not passionate about what I was writing about.”
As Jim’s passion grew through blogging, he expanded his social media presence along with it.
“A few years later I made my Cruise Law News Facebook page. And once I started putting my blog posts on Facebook, the page and my blog honestly exploded. What started happening was people who wouldn’t normally be reading my blog—like cruise ship crew members from the Philippines, or Indonesia—would start messaging me with more information about something I wrote about. People felt compelled to communicate privately.”
Because Jim was reaching people beyond his blog’s normal audience, he gained more new information and insight into the horrors of the cruise industry.
“Things like, ‘I saw you wrote about four crew members on this ship getting COVID. Did you know that they were all cooks, and then 30 other crew members were infected, and one died?’ Stuff that the cruise lines were otherwise keeping other wraps.”
Jim’s will to capitalize upon the benefits of social media sometimes came at a cost. A lot of people were angry about what he was posting during the pandemic. Jim described how he ended up losing about 5,000 followers on his Facebook page because of the strong pro-vaccination stance he took in his work.
“I don’t usually like to get too political, but at a certain point I felt like I had to. I feel much more true to myself now that I talk openly about issues that are affecting the cruise industry and are considered political in nature.”
Although some people consider Facebook to be on the way out in the world of social media platforms, Jim’s experience thus far has given him a different perspective.
“I like Facebook. There’s a real opportunity to engage with people there in a way that you don’t really get elsewhere.”