The Malta Independent 22 September 2021, Wednesday

TMID Editorial: Journalist-hating - Have we learned nothing?

Wednesday, 4 August 2021, 08:54 Last update: about 3 months ago

One of our duties as journalists is to inform the public about various issues.

Here is a lesson for some people out there, particularly those who comment beneath our stories on Facebook: hate speech is a crime.

We say this because, over the past few days we have witnessed a resurgence in hate speech on social media, including against our own journalists.

It is particularly shameful that hateful and inciteful comments seem to be on the rise just after the publication of the Daphne public inquiry, which found that a sense of impunity encouraged by government officials, coupled with an orchestrated campaign of dehumanisation directed from within the Office of the Prime Minister led to the murder of a journalist.


It is utterly disappointing to see such criminal behaviour rearing its head again at a time when there is consensus that journalists need better protection. Even the Prime Minister, ergo these people's 'political master', has pledged to introduced better safeguards for the journalistic profession.

Unfortunately, however, there are still many people out there for whom journalists are considered as enemies - people who are seemingly not content with the elimination of one journalist but who would enjoy seeing other reporters share the same fate.

In one such example, a reader who disagreed with an article we published on Sunday took aim at its author and wrote that "it is no surprise that journalists get blown up." This is effectively a justification of what happened to Daphne, and an insinuation that other journalists deserve to have the same thing happen to them.

This kind of talk is completely unacceptable. It is also illegal. It amounts to incitement to violence - violence against a few dedicated individuals who are giving the public an important service.

We say this not because we want people to feel sorry for us, but because it is the stark truth. Journalism is not a rewarding job. It does not pay well. And we get abuse daily. We do this job not for the money or for the glory, but because we feel that journalism is an essential service that is vital in a democratic society.

We do not expect to be thanked for our work, but we do expect to be treated with respect, just like anyone else. If people don't agree with what we write, they can easily go somewhere else. They can also disagree openly - we do not mind criticism. But saying that journalists should be blown up is reprehensible.

The culture of hate towards journalists did not come from nowhere - it stems from concentrated efforts by politicians to paint a picture that we stand against anything Labour, which could not be further from the truth. We say it how it is. If it's good, its good. If it's bad, it's bad. We do not have any political affiliations. We are only after the truth, and we always strive to be objective in our reporting. This job comes with many risks, but we do it anyway, because if we don't do it, then who will?

To the people calling for the elimination of journalists, we say: we are people like you. We have families like you. We are offering a service, a free one at that. If you don't like it feel free to read something else. That's entirely up to you.

But just try to imagine what a world without journalism would be like. Who would keep you informed with all that's going on? Who would hold the political class accountable?








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