Eureka mo­ments

Malta Independent - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS -

aware of the fact that the more it is promised the less it should ex­pect, it is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a spe­cial mo­ment in time when strate­gies, rather than mere prom­ises, have proved to be work­ing for the ben­e­fit of the ma­jor­ity on this blob of land. In less than four years, eco­nomic growth that is much stronger than the EU av­er­age has re­sulted in shrink­ing un­em­ploy­ment fig­ures, more for­eign in­vest­ment, par­tic­u­larly in the health and ed­u­ca­tion sec­tors, cheaper elec­tric­i­tiy rates, more women in em­ploy­ment, tax-free bud­gets, more young peo­ple and more over-45-year-olds find­ing jobs, an al­most mad­den­ing in­fras­truc­tural ac­tiv­ity, which mo­ti­vated a sar­cas­tic call for the in­tro­duc­tion of the im­age of a tower crane in­stead of the old Ge­orge Cross on the na­tional flag, and, no less im­por­tant, the pro­vi­sion of new rights to mi­nori­ties, in­creased so­cial ben­e­fits and bet­ter ac­cess to so­cial and cul­tural avenues for too many years for­bid­den ex­cept for elite cliques now moan­ing about fund­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tems.

There are sev­eral EU gov­ern­ments and par­ties that would in­stantly make spec­tac­u­lar prom­ises if they knew they could get these same re­sults. There are sundry wannabe prime min­is­ters who would gladly jump out of their baths shout­ing “eureka” in their search for power. The bit­ter truth is, how­ever, they know that all that comes with hard work and ded­i­ca­tion rather than soap bub­bles float­ing in the air like those, alas, of my favourite foot­ball team...

Fi­nal toss?

It has been long in com­ing, but what will hope­fully be the fi­nal toss of the dice is to take place in mid-De­cem­ber: a na­tional con­fer­ence on ethics in jour­nal­ism. There have al­ready been the usual gripes and ex­pres­sions of dis­gruntle­ment, but the is­sue can­not be left to rot once again in this mar­ket made up of a few cir­cu­la­tion­s­mit­ten news­pa­pers and a dozen ra­dio and TV sta­tions hous­ing a mi­nus­cule com­mu­nity of jour­nal­ists.

The need for one of­fi­cial­lyrecog­nised code of ethics in Mal­tese jour­nal­ism has been felt and se­ri­ously dis­cussed for over three decades. The amount of lip ser­vice and hyped-up an­tic­i­pa­tion have been huge, so huge in fact that there have been those who had openly given up on it ever hap­pen­ing. It is only fair to ac­knowl­edge the fact that there is, on the part of some peo­ple in the pro­fes­sion, a ques­tion of trust, but we can do with­out the bit­ter­ness and the snide re­marks.

The world of jour­nal­ism ev­ery­where is cur­rently caught in a whirl­wind and what was deemed eth­i­cal just a few years back has sadly to­day be­come stan­dard ploy. Our short­sighted at­ti­tudes and ev­ery­day tiffs, mostly the re­sult of po­lit­i­cal and rep­u­ta­tional tribu­la­tions, pale in­stantly in com­par­i­son with what is oc­cur­ring on the vast plat­form of in­ter­na­tional jour­nal­ism. Ethics and the cau­tion they are sup­posed to trig­ger have not only been thrown to the wind, but we are wit­ness­ing a qua­sisac­ri­le­gious sit­u­a­tion.

The US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, for ex­am­ple, saw politi­cians walk­ing across a mine­field of fake news. While cyn­ics may think they per­haps de­served no less, it came as a shock to most peo­ple that you could find jour­nal­ists work­ing for in­sti­tu­tions like CNN, the New York Times and the Guardian, among sev­eral oth­ers, be­ing re­spon­si­ble, ac­cord­ing to neu­trals and other ob­servers like former US con­gress­man Ron Paul, for what has been re­ferred to as bo­gus wars and lies about Hil­lary Clinton’s chances of win­ning the elec­tion.

Most of these peo­ple are the same ones who had told the world that Sad­dam’s Iraq had weapons of mass de­struc­tion. In Clinton’s case they said she had “a 98 per cent chance of win­ning the elec­tion” and “the econ­omy is in great shape”. Leaked emails have shown how the New York Times’ Mag­gie Haber­man had worked closely with Clinton’s cam­paign to present the de­feated Demo­cratic can­di­date in a favourable light.

One point that needs to be em­pha­sised dur­ing IGM’s forth­com­ing con­fer­ence is that the is­sue of ethics tran­scends the multi-coloured en­vi­ron­ment of politi­cians and au­thor­i­ties alike. Loud and cheery sup­port to it has to be counter-bal­anced by a gen­uine dis­po­si­tion to its rigid­ity. Suf­fice to say that in Europe, the same fake poses and po­lit­i­cal man­u­fac­ture are oc­cur­ring, alas. As RT’s ed­i­torin-chief Mar­garita Si­monyan said re­cently in re­ac­tion to the EU’s per­plex­ing “Anti-Rus­sia pro­pa­ganda” res­o­lu­tion (I won­der how our MEPs have voted on this one at the very same time their Prime Min­is­ter was meet­ing Dmitry Medvedev on busi­ness ties), “the EU has been lec­tur­ing Rus­sia and tout­ing free­dom of speech as one of its core principles, but hyp­o­crit­i­cally dis­missed it as an un­nec­es­sary lux­ury once their nar­ra­tive was chal­lenged.”

Si­monyan also slammed Re­porters Sans Fron­tieres, which she said was se­lec­tive about jour­nal­ists it chooses to pro­tect.

Back to our liliputian re­al­ity, it is use­less bind­ing jour­nal­ists and broad­cast­ers with a code of ethics un­less that same code is guarded and re­spected by the au­thor­i­ties, the me­dia stake­hold­ers and the le­gal pro­fes­sion. I know. I have never stopped car­ry­ing the bur­den that politi­cians and their pup­pets loaded into my pro­fes­sional sack.

It was bound to hap­pen

I guess it was bound to hap­pen. The con­ser­va­tive back­lash to the cur­rent Pope’s pro­gres­sive and heart-warm­ing poli­cies is now well and truly out in the open. A let­ter signed by four car­di­nals in which they ques­tion Pope Fran­cis on rules con­cern­ing the is­su­ing of sacra­ments to re­mar­ried di­vorcees has been made pub­lic. The same re­ac­tion is oc­cur­ring in con­nec­tion with his lat­est mis­sive on women who have had an abor­tion.

A let­ter was also sent to the Pope signed by 45 Catholic schol­ars, ap­peal­ing to him to fix “er­rors” in his doc­u­ment, claim­ing it con­tained “a num­ber of state­ments that can be un­der­stood in a sense that is con­trary to Catholic faith and morals”.

In his doc­u­ment en­ti­tled “Amoris Laeti­tia” (The Joy of Love) pub­lished in April, the Pope calls for the Church to be more ac­cept­ing of “im­per­fect mem­bers” say­ing that “no one can be con­demned for­ever”. Can any­thing be more mean­ing­ful and sin­cere? But not to the Trumps at the Vat­i­can.

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