A group calling itself the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme MWSRP, registered as a UK charity, has had its research permit temporarily suspended by the Maldives government. This follows clashes with local divers and complaints by the Divers Association of Maldives DAM to the authorities about the research methods used and the possible impact on marine life. The conflict is fast developing into an all out propaganda war, with one of the country's top news source taking sides.
In this Minivan News article, the writer JJ Robinson dedicates 721 words out of a total of 1401 words to MWSRP’s own version of the events, painting a picture of uncivilized, uneducated Maldivian divers from dive safari liveaboards engaged in guerrilla tactics to sabotage all-important research being done by enlightened Westerners.
As if that were not enough, Robinson gives an additional 173 words to an official of the Diva Island Resort and Spa to describe crew of liveaboards as bottom-baring, reckless louts, out to cause harm to other people’s guests. Robinson does not bother to interview a single liveboard crew or diver against whom his article levies serious allegations. Indeed, only 201 words are given to a representative of the Divers Association of Maldives, currently raising concern with the government about the methods used by the MWSRP, which may be causing of the dwindling number of whale sharks in the protected area.
JJ Robinson’s article is a glaring example of the violation of the code of impartiality, a fundamental ethic of good journalism, and it seriously undermines the pioneering work done by Minivan News to raise reporting standards in the Maldives.
Minivan means independent in Maldivian a, claim Minivan News can no longer make.