Media should be well-equipped to fight COVID-19


    I feel it is opportune to start with Edmund Burke’s quote:

    “There are three estates in Parliament but in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder there sits a Fourth Estate more important far than they all. It is not a figure of speech or witty saying, it is a literal fact, very momentous to us in these times.”

    ~ Edmund Burke (1729-1797), Irish-born British statesman, parliamentary orator, and political thinker

    We all agree that Burke was referring to the ‘free press’.

    Let us also agree that in such unusual circumstances, no other institution has the power to seek the truth, disseminate it, promote civic participation and by doing so hold power to account better than the fourth-estate.

    In this particular instance our communities, Country and the World are facing, as Dean of the Faculty for Social Wellbeing I believe that the responsibilities borne by a free and responsible media are even more crucial to our functioning as a society during this current crisis.

    The only way to avoid exploitation of this vulnerable moment of civil trust and unity as well as to ensure that government is indeed doing the best it can do in such a moment would be to ensure that the media is well equipped to do their job. Additionally, in a moment of social distancing when everyone is really feeling detached, it is this constant influx of information that keeps the sense of community alive. Lest we forget that the media is a crucial building block in the social wellbeing of our country.

    In this light, I therefore call upon government to support in every possible way the media and provide for its sustenance, funding and backing;

    1. A free and supported media will primarily ensure that all of Government’s directives are transmitted to the various segments of the population who might feel greater kinship with certain media houses over others.

    2. It will keep the citizenry and residents informed of all the latest developments. At no moment in time is such information more crucial, particularly when we are calling on the public at large to make large economic and lifestyle choices for the greater good.

    3. It is important that every Government initiative is expertly and thoroughly scrutinised to ensure that the best ideas are propounded and when mediocre ideas are put forward valuable critique which might improve these ideas is put forward.

    I therefore call upon Government to set up as soon as possible a financial package that can prop up the fourth estate in this crisis.

    This blog was published on the website of the University of Malta.