A part of Malta died with her

Daphne was much more than a blog­ger. She was a na­tional phe­nom­e­non, with noth­ing more than a key­board, an in­ter­net con­nec­tion, her cell­phone and her mind, she un­cov­ered more, an­a­lysed more, re­searched more and got to know more than any­one else.

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS - Lou Bondi

Blow­ing up a jour­nal­ist Mafia-style is easy. Blow­ing up 20 jour­nal­ists stand­ing shoul­der to shoul­der is not

Yet to my mind, and con­trary to the im­pres­sion given by al­most all the in­ter­na­tional me­dia, she was com­pli­cated, as the Face­book gen­er­a­tion would put it. There were two Daphnes in one, com­mit­ting car­di­nal sins against jour­nal­ism one minute and hold­ing its com­mand­ments up high, high­est of all the next.

The sin­ner. She of­ten failed to check her facts, she re­vealed her sources, ap­plied dou­ble stan­dards, at­tacked the per­son rather than the ar­gu­ment and given a choice be­tween what she be­lieved in and the facts, and she chose the former. Reg­u­larly, she was right but lost the ar­gu­ment be­cause of the way she put it. I got into pol­i­tics and spent al­most my en­tire life try­ing to bury the legacy of 1980s Mintof­fi­an­ism. Yet it never crossed my mind to call for a cham­pagne cel­e­bra­tion around his grave and then to pro­ceed to take a piss on it. That was Daphne.

Then there was the other Daphne. She was a lion heart with ev­ery sinew of her body pul­sat­ing with courage. She had an ele­phan­tine mem­ory, a ma­ni­a­cal com­mit­ment to jus­tice, was ob­scenely pro­duc­tive, of sharp in­tel­li­gence and had a unique abil­ity to join the dots. Let’s face it, un­less you read her you could not say that you fully grasped what was go­ing on in Malta. Above all, she proved that the pen was might­ier than the sword. That’s pre­cisely why some­one used the lat­ter to smash the former.

Many failed to sort out her jour­nal­is­tic sins from her acts of saint­hood. The con­se­quence is that she had as many avid fans as en­e­mies, fans who overnight be­come en­e­mies when she de­cided to at­tack them - ask many in the PN to­day - and en­e­mies who be­came fans when she did the op­po­site.

Her me­dia col­leagues and politi­cians have a lot to an­swer for to­day. There were those who jumped on her band­wagon when her words aided their po­lit­i­cal mis­sion, car­ing lit­tle about the ve­rac­ity of what she wrote.

Oth­ers did much worse. All those jour­nal­ists who, when she fear­lessly and valiantly started un­cov­er­ing truths of na­tional im­por­tance, failed to fol­low through be­cause it was she who was do­ing the un­cov­er­ing, be­cause of me­dia ego wars and van­ity. Some even un­der­mined and dis­cred­ited her sys­tem­at­i­cally when they knew that she was on to some­thing big.

This is not merely a shame. It partly ex­plains why Daphne is no longer with us to­day. Blow­ing up a jour­nal­ist Mafia-style is easy. Blow­ing up 20 jour­nal­ists stand­ing shoul­der to shoul­der is not. By leav­ing her stand­ing on her own, her col­leagues made the as­sas­sin’s job eas­ier. I am not blam­ing any­one in par­tic­u­lar and I know that sep­a­rat­ing her jour­nal­is­tic sins from the acts of saint­hood was an ar­du­ous task. But I au­gur that the me­dia won’t wait for another mor­tal blow against the soul of this na­tion be­fore they re­alise that they are pulling to­gether and that there’s strength in num­bers. May the spirit of sol­i­dar­ity that reigns among them at this time of mourn­ing live on for­ever.

A word on the rule of law. If Joseph Mus­cat does not de­liver on his prom­ise to do ev­ery­thing in his power to see that jus­tice is done, I will be the first to take to the streets. So far he has. At the same time, the rope in the tug of war in the PN will cer­tainly not pull me to the streets.

And fi­nally, a per­sonal note. Daphne and I knew each other for many years. Rather than friends, we shared a com­mon lib­eral and in­de­pen­dent spirit to­wards life, jour­nal­ism and pol­i­tics. Per­haps cer­tain sim­i­lar­i­ties in our char­ac­ter were al­ways in the way of a life-long friend­ship. We shared the same sense of hu­mour and I will al­ways trea­sure the mo­ments when I made her laugh and saw her face light up to re­veal the warmth that was hid­den from most.

Hours be­fore the 2013 elec­tion, when it was crys­tal clear who was go­ing to win, I heard that the po­lice were raid­ing her house, it was a no brainer for me to go and de­fend her with my cam­eras. It was my duty as a jour­nal­ist. In­deed, I found it odd that no one else showed up.

Some­time later, all the doors to my jour­nal­ism were closed. Rachel and I ended up with­out jobs, with a teenage daugh­ter to put through univer­sity in Lon­don and a child on the way. When I later took on a non-po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tancy job with the gov­ern­ment as part of my PR port­fo­lio, Daphne ob­jected. We de­bated the mat­ter a num­ber of times but we never agreed and, as was typ­i­cal her, our dis­agree­ment spilled over into her blog. As a lib­eral to the core, I took it all in stride. Un­til one day she wrote, that I do not love my chil­dren. I never spoke to her again.

To­day, I only have one re­gret. That I didn’t for­give her and now I can­not for the rest of my life.

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