The Malta Independent 5 December 2021, Sunday

Who is a journalist?

Alfred Sant MEP Thursday, 21 October 2021, 08:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

I admit that at times, as polemics about freedom of speech roll on, I feel confused about the use of the word “journalist”. Are those who write a blog or an article in a newspaper to be considered as “journalists”? Over long years that I’ve been scribbling for newspapers  and similar media, I estimate to have put down on paper between three to four million words, perhaps more, in English and Maltese, in my own or under a pen name, most of which dealt with curent affairs.

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I never considered myself as a “journalist”, even though more than once, I raised matters that hadn’t been raised before and which could have been “news”. Then the word “columnist” came into usage for who does this. Obviously in what I wrote, I followed the political and economic agenda to which I subscribed.

Others – as was their right – were doing the same. Perhaps if the whole picture is to be given, some were more partisan that me... and not for the Labour cause. But I do find it confusing that they and their fellow travellers are being presented as “journalists”.

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A UNITED MEDITERRANEAN?

The Mediterranean sea was always in a central position, certainly by way of serving to join three continents. From it, developed the basic features of European civilisation before this then tried to penetrate the rest of the world. For long centuries an organic unity existed right through the sea’s different reaches. Then for centuries afterwards and up to now, this unity was disrupted, at times completely.

In fact, disunity has characterised the region – between north and south, as well as within subregions at east and west. The legacy of colonialism accounts for this but not only. There was the impact of religious practice, or what took its place – which accounts partly for the gap between north and south.

But a more potent cause might be the divergence of political and civil institutions, which are designed and run on dissimilar lines. On top of which demographics that vary widely between different countries add to the mix of factors that all make for dissonance rather than unity.   

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THE TEACHING OF SCIENCE

One would like to know more about how the teaching of science is progressing and how it is being organised as of the primary level. For once again I’ve had to listen to complaints about how restricted and superficial sceintific awareness still is here. Efforts are being made, true, to popularise science and there’s no doubt that they should be fully encouraged.

Beyond this though, in order to allow the sciences to assume the predominance they deserve in our society the only way forward is by engineering an intelligent restructuring of the educational schedules laid out for the teaching of sciences as of the earliest years of school. Moreover, there needs to be a commitment to attach to such a structure resources of personel and teaching materials that will be carried over from year to year.

A distinct policy aiming to promote the sciences cannot be run haphazardly or simply on the basis of public relations exercises. From beginning to end, it should function as a long term strategy.

 

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