The Malta Independent 22 February 2020, Saturday

Is The glass ceiling in Maltese journalism starting to crack?

Malta Independent Sunday, 31 July 2005, 00:00 Last update: about 7 years ago

Charlot Zahra talks to local television’s first-ever female news editor, MIRIAM DALLI, to find out.

The appointment of Miriam Dalli as head of News and Current Affairs at Super One on Wednesday is considered a watershed in Maltese journalism. Ms Dalli, in fact, is the first female television news editor in Malta (Sylvana Debono had managed the newsroom at RTK, the Church’s radio station, some years back).

When The Malta Independent on Sunday caught up with Ms Dalli for her initial reaction, she made an interesting revelation.

“Being appointed head of One News is definitely a challenge. When I was first approached I was in two minds since this meant that I had to choose between two opportunities that cropped up exactly at the same time. This October I was supposed to go and study in the UK, as I had been awarded a Chevening scholarship in Sheffield. It took me some time to decide but at the end of the day I’m sure I took the right decision. You have to grab certain opportunities as they arise when you know you have the right qualifications for the job.”

One News is not made up of just the head of news, many other people are involved, she said. “There is a whole team of people, journalists, cameramen, editors and other technical people in whom I have every confidence. I have considered the talents of the people at One News and I’m sure that together we can provide a superior TV news service. We already have established journalists who can contribute much to One News and we have new people who are really enthusiastic about learning more.”

Asked whether her appointment was a sign that the glass ceiling in Maltese newsrooms – traditionally a male bastion – is starting to crack, Ms Dalli said: “Most people who called, sent message texts or e-mails commented on the fact that I’m the first female TV news editor in Malta. As far as I’m concerned being a woman or a man in this position doesn’t actually make much of a difference. I hope this is a sign that finally qualifications and experience will be given more consideration than whether you’re female or male.

“It’s really unfortunate that we lose talented people and never see what they can contribute just because they’re women. Fortunately, there are companies where a person’s individual contribution is considered more important than that person being a woman or a man. One Productions is one of these companies.

“It’s not easy concluding, however, that my appointment is a sign that the glass ceiling is starting to break. There are a great deal of female journalists in Malta yet only a few make it to the top. I just hope that we’ll see more capable women at the helm, not only in news’ organisations but companies in general.”

How will the “female” perspective enrich Super One’s news output, I asked.

“It’s our perspective as individuals” – rather than the female perspective – “which will eventually enrich One News’ output. Myself, and everybody working at One News, have something to contribute to the final product.

“What I can give One News is definitely my determination, and the fact that I look out for details in everything. Second best is not good enough for me, I want to strive for something better, and that’s what I’m after. The way I worked on TV programmes such as Team and Target is how I want to work at One News.

She then goes on to make a rather bold statement for a news organisation owned by a political party.

“What’s most important is providing people with something different. Delivering a balanced product as much as possible, even though we all have our biases. I want our viewers to be given the whole picture and be able to arrive at their own conclusions.”

Ms Dalli studied communications at the University of Malta between 1994 and 1998. She graduated with a BA Honours in Communications. “Media and journalism were always my forte,” she says.

Between 1998 and 2001 Ms Dalli followed a Masters in Business Administration and between 2001 and 2003 she did another Masters course, this time an MA in European Studies. “This is a real opportunity where I can put into practice what I studied since I can combine Communications and Management,” she explained.

She started working part-time with One News in 1995 and full time in 1998, just after she graduated.

Miriam Dalli has produced a number of programmes but she says Team was the programme she enjoyed working on most, and the programme that up to this very day people still mention and ask after. “I produced and presented Team which combined the efforts of a number of different journalists. Those effort were rewarded, as Team was considered the best investigative TV programme by the Malta Broadcasting Authority twice.”

Asked whether there were any new ideas she wanted to implement immediately, Ms Dalli replied: “I want to offer as balanced a product as possible. It has to be a news service by people for people. I’m looking forward to the next schedule, which will start this October and where our combined efforts will hopefully give the result we’re after.”

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