The Malta Independent 15 August 2022, Monday

TMID Editorial: A country that loves to hate journalists

Monday, 1 August 2022, 11:41 Last update: about 13 days ago

The nation has a tendency to love politicians and treat them as deity and hate those who challenge them, including journalists, a senior media lecturer told this newsroom in an interview published on Sunday.

This statement is, unfortunately, one hundred percent correct.

It is something we journalists often feel, and one of the factors which demoralise us the most.

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Besides the uncertain future of the industry, the low pay and the difficulties of the job (such as obtaining information from government entities), we have to deal with constant abuse, threats and a sense of disdain from many members of the public who simply love to hate us.

Few people realise how hard this job is, and perhaps even fewer know what drives us to do it.

We are not in this for fame or money. We do this out of a sense of duty to the public because we feel that voters and taxpayers should really know what goes on in the corridors of power. We do this because we truly believe that journalism is a fundamental part of a democracy.

The people who love to hate us probably think we do this because we have nothing better to do, or maybe for the money, or the glory.

But it’s neither of the above. It is common knowledge that the journalism industry doesn’t exactly have the best salaries. It is very easy for journalists to move on to the myriad of jobs offered in the private industry, such as content writing, which pay much more, and some of us do.

But others choose to stay, not because of a lack of options, but because they feel a sense of duty towards the public, a duty to challenge the powers that be and to inform the public on how their hard-earned tax money is being spent.

If there were no journalists, politicians and big business would be able to run riot and do as they please, with no one to keep them in check.

On the other hand, we must also look in the mirror and acknowledge that mistakes have been made and continue to be made that push people away.

Partisan media does not help improve the public’s perception of the media, and neither do those ‘media houses’ that present only one side of the story, without seeking comment or clarification from those being criticised. But this does not mean that all newsrooms should suffer.

Another demoralising factor is that, oftentimes, trivial news, such as a minister getting married, gets more attention than a well-researched investigative story a journalist would have worked on for weeks.

This also happens on a global picture. To give an example, the Ukraine war was ‘sexy’ news for the first few months, but now very few people care about what’s going on there.

Yes, journalism in Malta needs to be reformed and improved, and there is an ongoing process to that effect, but people must also be educated about the benefits of journalism, and the problems of a lack of it.

The most important question one can ask about this topic is: what would a world without journalists look like?

 

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