Asking journalists to refrain from questioning on a particular topic is not on – IĠM

Asking journalists to refrain from questioning on a particular topic is not on, the Institute of Maltese Journalists (IĠM) said on Tuesday following yet another incident when a journalist was asked to stick to the subject matter of a press conference.

In a statement, the institute noted that another politician had attempted to restrict the media 48 hours after it had issued an appeal urging more respect towards the media and its role in society.

Marking World Press Freedom Day, the institute had highlighted the difficulties journalists in Malta face on a daily basis. It also lambasted Prime Minister Robert Abela for restricting journalists from asking questions during Friday’s press conference when the government was announcing the gradual lifting of coronavirus restrictive measures amid the latest dramatic events concerning a group of asylum seekers stranded at sea. Visibly irritated Prime Minister Abela had urged journalists to refrain from asking on migrants and to limit their questions to the topics of the day.

On Tuesday, Partit Nazzjonalista Deputy Leader Robert Arrigo refused to answer questions on the party’s position on migration. He insisted that journalists should restrict their questions to the subject matter.

IĠM expressed its disappointment given the party’s front page coverage of its previous statement.

The institute reiterated that journalists’ questions could never be restricted to a particular subject that the party or authority deems fit.

“We will not tolerate living in a society where those in authority can restrict the media to accommodate their political goals,” the statement reads.

The institute remarked that following its statement on Sunday, members of the press received a considerable amount of hateful and threatening comments.

IĠM urged the authorities, including politicians, to understand and most importantly pronounce themselves against any type of anti-media rhethoric.