Daphne’s legacy, 3 years on. Are we any closer to media freedom in Malta?

    Photo by: Miguela Xuereb

    Her assassination was meant to bury the truth on corruption and abuse of power. Muscat’s resignation to the calls of the thousands protesting in Castille square might lead us to think that her cause prevailed. His resignation from Parliament prompted comparisons between Invicta and Evictus. Did the truth prevail on deceit and corruption? In part it did. The three political protagonists of the web of corruption she was trying to uncover are now running for their life. The authors we know of behind the heinous crime are behind bars, waiting for the edict of justice. And, yet, I believe, that her legacy is only partly accomplished.

    For while we may have done good strides forward on the #justicefordaphne front, Media freedom in Malta is still plagued with multiple levels of political and financial influence, inter-dependence on authority and business which begs the question as to how free is our information.

    If it serves to illustrate the point…, in the past months we can notice at least four cases of journalists leaving the profession for greener pastures in Government jobs. In two cases, journalists which used to regal us with good critical insights into government operations have joined the services of Ministries they used to keep under scrutiny a few weeks before.

    Evidently, every single individual is free to chart his or her own career path. Seen in isolation, there is nothing wrong with someone with experience in media joining Government services in communication efforts. The problem would be if this is indicative of the potential power of public authority to buy favour and respect with those meant to keep it under scrutiny.

    The current setting between political offers is already massively tilted towards government on the social media front, where you have armies of directly or indirectly paid ‘commentators’ pushing a government line no matter what, as well as on the TV front where labour owns the second biggest TV station and effectively decides the editorial policy on the biggest, and public TV station.

    There are no quick fixes to this situation. Probably the most effective antidote to information imbalance would be reader awareness. We need to be more and more vigilant on how we get information and from whom. Our democracy depends on that. We no longer have the running commentary for a fearless interpretation of developments, but we can keep on seeking the truth in the half-truths, joining the dots ourselves and supporting free and independent media with our readership.

    kellimni@peteragius.eu

    Peter Agius, MEP candidate & EU expert.