Clearly, very few people in this country have grasped the meaning of actual journalism. The reactions when a journalist actually did her job during Prime Minister Robert Abela’s press conference led me to think that our tribal approach to everything has skewed our vision so badly that we literally have no idea.
For those who didn’t follow, Abela took questions from journalists right after the press conference, as is the norm. I will be blunt here – many of the questions tend to be an embarrassment to the profession. Repeated questions, partisan questions from both sides of the spectrum, and so forth.
Until yesterday, a journalist – Nicole Meilak from Malta Today – came out with a zinger. She pointedly asked Prof Charmaine Gauci whether she feels she should resign due to the political pressure being wrought on her role.
A bona fide question by a bona fide journalist. This is irrespective of what we believe the answer to that question should be. I, personally, happen to have great respect for Prof Gauci and I certainly don’t envy the position she is in. But regardless of this, the question must be asked.
Judging by the reactions of the public at large, you’d think Ms Meilak had just suggested placing Prof Gauci into prison and throwing away the key.
Arrogant. Shameful. Embarrassing. Biased. These were only the mildest reactions, mind you. Ms Meilak was turned into a media sensation and pilloried all through the day. Just for doing her job.
I mean, I already knew that journalism as a profession is not valued for the fourth estate that it is. But that things have reached a stage where a journalist is attacked for placing a question that, quite frankly, wouldn’t even deserve a raised eyebrow anywhere else and that should have been asked ages ago, leaves me gobsmacked.
Clearly, the Maltese are so used to following media that operates with a partisan agenda that no-one actually understands the function of a real journalist. And when a legit, hard-hitting question is asked, everyone is shocked.
Compare and contrast to the question posed by the Net TV journalist – he repeated a question that had already been asked previously by another journalist (whether the PM should apologise to the people). Because heaven forbid we use our brain and think on the fly and come up with a different question from that which the news editor planned for you earlier.
And then he went on to – get this – play a recording of the Prime Minister promising that everything would be fine by March. Of all things that have gone wrong throughout COVID-19 and that we’d be justified to ask, the Nationalist media prefers to do a spot of random, useless ‘humiliation’, rather than ask a genuine question that gives us a chance to learn information that is actually useful.
What a tacky move.
Sadly, the majority of those following the conference are unlikely to agree with me, as their understanding of real journalism has been hopelessly skewed. The majority think that when a One journalist gifts the Prime Minister a soft question designed to enable him to spew partisan rhetoric, that is journalism.
Or, if you bat for the other side, when a Net TV journalist ridicules a member of cabinet with a facile recording, instead of doing some real work and coming up with a good question… that’s journalism too.
Well, it’s not. And sadly, the reactions to Ms Meilak doing her job don’t do this country glory. In a functional country, where people didn’t view everything through red or blue-tinted glasses, that question would have been totally unremarkable, and certainly wouldn’t have created a social media storm (well, not unless it actually led to someone’s resignation, and then the storm would be for different reasons).
But because we are operating in a country where journalism is no longer recognised, where partisan lackeys on either side are referred to as ‘journalists’, then here we are.
Ms Meilak, kudos to you. Let’s hope that other journalists take a leaf out of your book. Heavens know the profession needs it.
Lovin Malta filed a historic court case last month to determine whether propaganda on political party TV stations should be declared unconstitutional. The court case argues that a law approved by Parliament in 1991 to permit the stations to open went completely contrary to the demands of the Constitution. It may change Malta’s media landscape for good – so stay up to date with the latest developments at www.kaxxaturi.com.
This is an article from a collaboration between Lovin Malta and Ramona Depares. She’s a writer who enjoys breaking down the walls of the patriarchy with a keyboard and a smile. And the occasional glass of wine. Check out her arts & lifestyle blog on www.ramonadepares.com.
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