The Malta Independent 27 May 2019, Monday

TMID Editorial: Politicians and media - It’s a matter of trust

Friday, 22 February 2019, 09:42 Last update: about 3 months ago

The results of a Eurobarometer survey that were published this week show that Maltese people trust political parties (36 per cent) more than they trust the written media (32 per cent).

This may have come as a surprise to many, even considering that the EU average gives a totally different picture, with only 18 per cent trusting political parties while 47 per cent trust the written media.

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It goes to prove, some argue, that the values of the Maltese are different from the rest of Europe, and that we have the mentality to accept corruption more than we accept institutions, including the media, that are fighting against it.

As part of the independent media, it hurts to see that all our efforts to be a credible and balanced source of information are not received by the public as intended. We admit that we and other independent outlets have committed errors that could have tarnished our reputation. That the national broadcasting station always ends up as a puppet in the government’s strings – whoever is in government – is yet another blow to the people’s trust in the media.

Added to this, over the past years we have had bloggers and semi news portals sprouting from all corners and they have not helped much to increase our repute. If anything, they have made things worse with their shooting from the hip.

But we believe that the results obtained in the previously mentioned survey are largely a result of the presence of media run and controlled by the political parties. The newspapers, and more importantly, the radio and television stations belonging to the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party are giving a very distorted image of what is going on.

Some say that One and Net balance each other out, and that the Broadcasting Authority allows them a free hand simply because the public has come to accept this “us and them” situation. The same goes for In-Nazzjon and l-orizzont which, although not owned by the PL, is run by the General Workers Unions which officially slipped out of the bed it shared with Labour, but is still very much in love with it. But anyone with a clear head and who is not blinded by partisan politics can understand that what the PL and PN media provide their followers is the complete opposite of what journalism should be.

When the PN was in government, Malta was paradise for Net and hell for One. Now that the Labour Party is in government, Malta is paradise for One and hell for Net. It is this black and white mentality adopted by the two stations that gives such a bad name to journalism and journalists. Because it cannot be that, on one station, everything is right and, on the other, everything is wrong.

Having said all this, it is clear that all of us in the media must look within ourselves and take that extra minute of thinking before publishing. It does not mean that we have to become populists and give our followers what they want to be given. Because, after all, our beliefs and values come first and foremost.

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