Matthew Xuereb, the president of the Institute of Maltese Journalists, along with Secretary Kurt Sansone, are not doing the right thing by holding secret discussions with the government on its sham press reform. Last week, a group of journalists disassociated themselves from the government’s press reform, and this is what the government intends to achieve: to divide Malta’s journalism sector between the government-approved and publicly-subsidised media agencies and those who don’t receive adverts or subsidies from the government and have no official lines of communication with the government.
As head of Malta’s Institute of Journalists and someone who represents journalists collectively, Matthew Xuereb should take a different approach, yet he is more concerned with protecting the interests of the government and hence why he signed a non-disclosure agreement with the government as a member of the government’s original press committee on their discussions. It sounds bizarre even writing it, let alone doing something like this. Times of Malta editor and president of the Institute of Maltese Journalists signed a nondisclosure agreement on their discussions on Malta’s press reform. There is also a great sense of disloyalty to the whole press corps and industry with Matthew Xuereb’s and Kurt Sansone’s behavior not to mention that Kurt Sansone’s boss is the government’s favourite independent propagandist. Matthew Xuereb and Kurt Sansone are playing along the government’s game to divide the press industry and move forward a sham press reform which the press, in general, is completely oblivious of.
The Institute of Maltese Journalists is not representative of Maltese Journalists and is not working for my interests as an independent journalist and author. I’m one of the rare journalists who is currently undergoing both libel and criminal proceedings for my work, and the only organisation which ever reached out to me offering help was The Daphne Foundation. I’m very happy to make this public because it is a testament to the failure of the Institute of Journalists to act in any way the in the interest of journalists.
From my own personal experience, reforms in press law should always be done transparently with an open discussion involving all parties whilst moving reforms which materially and tangibly help everyone in the industry. When I worked with Joseph Muscat’s administration on its press reform, I didn’t hold any secret discussions with the government. The demands made were public and in black and white. Our draft reforms were published in advance. We always held a press conference to list out the draft bills. Today, we have a government which plays divide and conquer with clear and direct attempts to undermine the press.