“As a result of new corporate policy, di-ve.com will not, for the foreseeable future, cover political activities and statements as part of its day-to-day operations.”Nothing wrong with it, so far. They could also have announced that in order to increase their readership from now on to change from English to a rarely spoken Hindu dialect. That's freedom of enterprise.
So why would quite a few people be not amused? Well, on the same day the Maltese news web portal published this notice (February 4th), in Malta parliamentary election was scheduled to be held on March 8th.
Thus, an act of self-censorship? A ban on politics? Yes, says the European Federation of Journalist. EFJ General Secretary Aidan White calls it
"a craven act of self-censorship at a critical time when the public needs reliable political coverage to be able to make informed decisions on the elections. Cutting political news is a shocking violation of responsibility."Are these indeed the words of the EFJ General Secretary? Or have these lines been written by someone who recently jubilated, 'In November I'd not know how to write shornalist, and only three month later I happen to be one!'?
Apart from that the adjectives craven and shocking in this context are pretty redundant, does Mr Aidan think that the public does not need reliable political coverage as long as the times are not critical?
Well, and what evidence does Mr. Aidan have to call the decision (whose?!) an act of self-censorship? Perhaps it was just a 'gentlemen's agreement'? Or why would the notice be published on the same day the election date is being announced, and presumably only a couple of hours after one could have read within this article:
A democratic Malta must realise the media scenario is changing and evolving, even with the general aspirations of the rest of the country which are increasing. Readers and our audiences are ever more demanding for more news and better quality, and they are giving every indication of a society that is maturing and expecting more. Our society is becoming ever more discerning when it comes to the media, and yet the exigencies such a role brings for the media is not being properly recognised by the parties and institutions.There are quite a few questions one could ask.
But the EFD, the Journalists’ Committee and the Institute of Maltese Journalists needed obviously all resources to write a 'joint letter' to the company's chairman:
“We hope you realise your company’s decision is a disservice to your own customers, to the Maltese public in general and to political parties that need journalists to disseminate and analyse their programmes before our country is called to vote.”Oh dear. Does the public need journalists 'to disseminate and analyse the programmes of political parties' who'd write such sentences on their own behalf? Do political parties need them? Journalist's who seem not even able to investigate on their own behalf?
Apropos, 'our country'. Our? Whose? The journalists' country?
Nitpicking aside. What happens to the political editors who are not political editors anymore? Filling the space by writing articles about the open days at car dealers etc. without which those would not take out an ad?
What, by the way, if di-ve.com's advertising partners took political responsibility? They could f.e. publicly declare:
“As a result of new corporate policy, we will cancel our ads for the foreseeable future, in which di-ve.com does not cover political activities and statements as part of its day-to-day operations.”
Said Adlai Stevenson:
'Newspaper editors are men who separate the wheat from chaff, and then print the chaff. '
'And the best of these would become General Secretaries', he did not say. Perhaps a craven act of self-censorship?