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...
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.