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June 2018    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 33, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Unvarnished Truth Can Hurt But Itís Still the Truth

from the June, 2018 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

A young ad agency art director, working on film on location in the Caribbean, said, "Look at that azure sky. Look at that idyllic white beach. Look at the palm fronds rustling in the breeze. Paradise. Why does it hurt?"

He was referring to the sunburn. Reality is inevitably imperfect.

I can understand why the people with dive operations at Lembeh were upset about a recent article in Undercurrent written by John Bantin suggesting divers should avoid taking off their masks underwater to avoid eye infections -- just as I can understand dive operators in Bali not liking the fact that Undercurrent gave the oxygen of publicity to the crisis of plastic pollution affecting some dive sites there.

Similarly, dive shops in Florida probably wished that NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary kept quiet and not warned about the seasonal sea itch caused by the larvae of thimble jellyfish; just as businesses in Honduras would like the no-see-um irritation hushed up: just as dive operators in north Queensland would like the dangers of Irukandji jellyfish kept quiet. Dive operators in Raja Ampat probably despaired at the story we wrote about diver David Shem-Tov being grabbed by a saltwater crocodile there several years ago.

The Maldives has suffered from extensive coral bleaching -- so much so that they've altered the sort of diving they do there. Two tiger shark attacks in Cocos, one fatal, surely haven't helped promote trips there. Dive operators in Tobago would probably prefer that the government's warning about the great number of ISIS fighters returning to their homes in Trinidad and Tobago was kept quiet. And surely, dive operators from Playa del Carmen and Cozumel didn't appreciate the reports of bombs planted on the ferries that travel between the two ports this winter. The list goes on ...

None of these problems is under direct control of the dive businesses, but they'd all like them hushed up if they affect their business. That's only natural.

Of course, some events have an immediate link to the people concerned. Losing divers at sea can be without blame (although not always), just as boats catching fire or sinking aren't planned by their operators and usually represent a business disaster. Should Undercurrent keep quiet about such events? Though at times we're asked to, we won't. Our obligation is to you, our subscribers.

Hurricanes and other natural disasters can upset plans, and it's usually how a business coped with the after-effects that counts. A dive boat that kills a diver can obviously have blame attributed.

Undercurrent works hard to give a balanced view on injustices often engendered by social media, where a lynch-mob mentality is frequently apparent. Even then, those involved as victims can rail against it, seeing yet another unwanted highlight of something they wished would simply go away.

Everyone wants to promote their businesses with absolutely no negative press. But where does promoting the positive aspects of a location or service end and hiding the downsides begin to be wrong?

Undercurrent is in the business of the unvarnished truth. We try to tell both what is good and what is bad about a place. Business owners can kick and scream as much as they like, but they'll need to give their attention to the glossy dive magazines that have a policy that, if there's nothing good to say, say nothing at all. They need advertising revenue for their business model. Undercurrent is paid for by subscribers who appreciate a balanced view. We'll continue doing what we do for as long as there are subscribers who want to read and support us.

- Ben Davison, Founder and Publisher

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