"As a journalist, it's in my nature to look for answers. However, the more I know, the more I don't know." Freelance Writer Lynn Mo is the Founder of Lynn Mo’s Traveling Life, and has been a journalist for over a decade, mainly focusing on eco-tourism, marine preservation and marine travel. She has contributed to various travel publications including Smile Taiwan of CommonWealth Magazine, T-Life and LES iles.
Can you briefly introduce your new book?
The book “Great Blue Wild in Taiwan
”(《海洋台灣：大藍國土紀實》) collects my diving experiences and my observations about the ocean. There is nowhere left unexplored when it comes to marine nature around the island, as my underwater adventures spanned the east and west coasts, and included numerous outlying islands from the Turtle Island, Liuqiu to the Green Island and the Orchid Island off the southeast. The book also includes many precious photographs captured by dozens of divers who went to great lengths to capture the fantastic moments. By viewing them, readers can easily get immersed in the incredible nature of Taiwan.
Although I grew up in Taipei and Taiwan is surrounded by ocean, I was very unfamiliar with the ocean until I went diving for the first time in southern Penghu in 2013. From then on, I was hooked on the sea and later became a journalist travelling home and abroad to cover diving and sightseeing experiences. I started my career as a travel journalist and I hope that the distance between people and the ocean can be shortened through travelling.
Was there any moment that inspired you in particular while writing the book?
Journalists always hope to stay objective. There are 13 stories about the ocean in the book and I approached every single one of them in the usual journalistic manner. I went on field trips and conducted onsite interviews following plenty of research and fact-checking. Some of the sites were deeply challenging and requires me to up my diving skills and overcame the fear.
Although water covers 70% of the earth's surface, there is little humans know about the ocean. As a journalist, it's in my nature to look for answers. However, the more I know, the more I don't know! When you think the weather may seem nice out there, the sea may be rough. Perhaps we just accept your “tininess” in the ocean. Don't risk your lives.
You have been a journalist for almost 15 years What’s the difference between being a freelance writer and a full-time reporter?
I like to be a journalist. It is because I get to tell the story by interviewing exciting people. Regardless of the storytelling format, writing a story broadens my horizons, I learnt a lot working for the mainstream media as I got to work on topics to serve the general public's interests. Being a freelancer, however, provides me with the opportunity to do what I want. Although the reader base may be much smaller, I enjoy what I am doing. In particular. I want to thank those media practitioners who have helped promote my work.
Tourism is sometimes seen as destructive to the environment. What makes an excellent sustainable tourism story? What are the new topics you are looking at during the COVID-19 pandemic?
We used to believe that tourism is harmless to the environment, and some may even call it a "smoke-free industry". However, blindly developing tourism might result in bad outcomes. The absence of proper planning and management may lead to an excessive number of tourists bringing detrimental impact to the environment. In the past two years, I have been living in Liuqiu Island, which is only 6.8 square kilometres. To promote low-carbon tourism, the Taiwan government collaborated with many NGOs and relevant industry specialists in 2016 on Liuqiu Island. I was heavily involved in these initiatives. Over the years, Liuqiu Island has become Taiwan's most environmentally conscious island thanks to collective efforts. However, the number of tourists has continued to increase, with more than one million visitors in consecutive years, and the island's development is still ongoing. I question whether what I have done is right or wrong. There is obviously a lot more work to be done to protect the beautiful island.
In 2020, the world changed dramatically due to COVID-19. Taiwan's residents are so lucky that we could still travel freely domestically due to proper governmental preventive measures. As we can’t travel abroad, many “go local”. Subsequently, a lot of lesser-known places have become overcrowded. This is just a perfect reminder that tourists, industry workers and governments all must consider ecological sustainability while developing our economy.
Tips for PR - how should PR practitioners cooperate with you?
Other than writing about the ocean and travel, I have also given speeches about sustainable marine tourism and environmental protection. I also collaborate with schools tourism bureaus from different countries, Taiwan’s tourism departments, industry practitioners, restaurants, online travel agencies, Taiwan’s marine departments, marine preservation organisations, diving workers, ocean recreation workers, fishery organisations, schools, media, bookstores, etc.
PR can contact me via email and Facebook page.
Has your kinship with nature changed your life in any way?
Before going to nature, I felt far away from the terms "global warming" and "environmental change". I have to say, however, that the amount of rubbish I have seen during my diving trips has left a deep impression on me. What’s even more striking is the discovery that even uninhabited islands are polluted because pollutants can travel far and wide along with water currents. In the summer of 2020. Taiwan observes the worst coral bleaching in history. The originally colourful coral reefs around Taiwan suffered from high sea temperature. I feel that our planet is issuing a warning with these dying “underwater rainforests”. Global warming and environmental change are really close to our lives if we are willing to pay attention to them.
Every person can be more eco-friendly in our everyday life by doing little things from cutting back on the use of plastic and disposable items to eco-friendly tableware. We should also opt for ocean-friendly seafood and join coastal clean-up activities. Although there is a big room for improving marine protections, I’m pleased to see that more have devoted themselves to marine protection over the past few years, especially children who are deeply engaged in ocean education.
Tips for new freelance writers?
I think freelance writers should open up their minds, listen more, read more and study harder. I think journalism is a "happy profession" as it allows you to gain new knowledge and speak to important people. I have been a freelancer for more than five years, and I increasingly feel as if I’m running my own business. In the beginning, I still cooperated with media and worked on a commission basis. As the media ecology has been changing and the specific topics I do is becoming more and more specific, I increasingly feel as if I’m running my own business like other self-media practitioners. Securing sustainable income is always a challenge, but it gives me the freedom to work on content I’m truly passionate about.
I encourage those who want to freelance, despite the hurdles, it’s definitely worth the shot for the passion, not to mention it might benefit society.