The Malta Independent 12 May 2021, Wednesday

IĠM demands more respect for journalists on World Press Freedom Day

Monday, 3 May 2021, 10:39 Last update: about 8 days ago

On World Press Freedom Day, the Institute of Maltese Journalists (IĠM) has called for a concerted effort for journalists to be shown more respect in their line of work.

World Press Freedom Day is an opportunity to support and applaud journalists in providing the public with reliable, quality information. This is something that has not only become important in the face of constant misinformation fomented through social media channels but has become much more difficult since the COVID-19 outbreak.

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The IĠM said that it cannot accept any attempts to use the pandemic to adopt restrictions on press freedom or in any way silence debate.

It noted with dismay the constant harassment women journalists face on social media, which is not only demeaning but also serves as a disincentive for young people to join the profession.

As the fourth pillar of any democracy, independent, fact-based and reliable journalism is something that any country depends on. Journalists are aware that their job comes with its own dangers. Journalists will not shy away from these challenges but the least they expect is to have authorities respect the work they do.

These issues were discussed at length during a recent courtesy visit by the new IĠM council to President George Vella at San Anton Palace. During the meeting, the council members expressed their strong belief that press freedom must not be restricted in any way and that the State was duty-bound to protect journalists from harassment, threats or censorship so that information can be disseminated without suppression.

President Vella, on his part, reiterated the importance of this sector, which is one of the pillars of an open and democratic society. He insisted that journalists play a key role in reducing the divisions and achieving national unity.

Many media outlets in Malta have faced immeasurable losses during the pandemic. Although the government’s help through the COVID wage supplement and the one-time media grant helped lessen the impact, journalists, like many other professions, had to take pay cuts while expected to work more to continue providing accurate information for their readers or televiewers. The IĠM would like to start a discussion on extending such assistance to all media houses annually, as happens in various other European countries.

The IĠM commended journalists for their vital work, urges them to keep strong in time of adversity and vouches to continue to stand up for them and press freedom.

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