Finally, some anger

Jonathan Attard: Justice Minister. Don't laugh, yet.

Journalists are finally waking up to the news that the government has taken them for a ride on its forced press reform. You can follow this thread on Twitter by Christopher Schwaiger to read about the journalists’ anger as they finally realise that the government is bulldozing a law about them in parliament without even consulting them.

I hope this is just the start of a rude awakening by journalists to realise that the government is not on their side and is actually working against them. We have to be more cohesive and organised and someone should take the lead although it should definitely not be the current IĠM leadership which has shown total incompetence and ingratiation in this debacle.

The government’s strategy to destroy the free press in Malta is based on three main activities:

1) Buy out your critics. The most notable example is Saviour Balzan whose deafening silence on the government’s totalitarian law is as loud as a horn. Indeed, Saviour owns MaltaToday which delivers some great journalism, but Saviour himself works as a propagandist and a PR agent for the government. I have always been consistent with my critique and I will not shy away from calling a spade a spade. Yesterday, I was on NET TV and I made the same criticism to Father Joe (Beirut) Borg. Joe Borg was a prominent gatekeeper to the media under PN and his actions undermined press freedom and abetted the Nationalist Party.  Joe Borg was also supportive of the existent legal censorship of that time: laws that Labour under Joseph Muscat abrogated, ironically soon to be re-introduced by Robert Abela’s Labour. Saviour Balzan is a new gatekeeper, but this time round under the employ of Labour. He is provided with resources and air-time but doesn’t have any influence at the University – for that there is Carmen Sammut.

2) Institute a new legal censorship regime. This totalitarian press law is only the beginning of Labour’s series of totalitarian laws which will be introduced to destroy the free press. The next law in line is the re-intrdocution of criminal libel which was removed by Labour under Joseph Muscat.

3) Create a swathe of fake media houses which are actually Labour propaganda units.  There are many fake media outlets propping up from nowhere which are actually Labour propaganda units fully subsidized by the government. These new websites which pretend they are “independent media” are also being advertised on Facebook. Labour intends to overwhelm the free press with propaganda pumped by government funds.

If we want the independent press to exist in Malta we have to fight for it. The government’s interest is to see us disappear. Don’t have any illusions.

In addition, at this stage, I don’t see any use for foreign NGOs. This is our matter and we should sort it out between ourselves. We should practically fight and push for a bill of our own, ourselves.

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