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Our favourite stories of 2018

During 2018, The Shift News conducted a number of exclusive interviews as well as offering readers analysis, commentary, and series focusing on corruption and the dire state of the Maltese political situation. These were some of our favourite stories of 2018.

Interview: Andrew Caruana Galizia

Andrew Caruana Galizia
Andrew Caruana Galizia

“On the anniversary of her death in a car bomb outside her home, her son said the vilification that his mother had faced was “a contributing factor to her murder”. Anyone fighting for justice now puts them “in the same dangerous space she occupied”.

In an exclusive interview with The Shift News, Andrew Caruana Galizia, one of the sons of the murdered journalist spoke about having to handle years of government harassment and the fact that it has continued after her death. Touching on the numerous Labour MPs that have openly insulted the family on social media and the disinformation campaign that has been levied against them, Andrew calls for a public enquiry and increased protection for those that investigate corruption in the country.

“A public inquiry into whether my mother’s life could have been saved is important to us as a family, as we need to know the whole truth about my mother’s assassination. And it is important for Malta as a country and for journalists working in Malta as it is the only way for the State to learn how to prevent future deaths,” Andrew said.

Read the full interview here.

The Series: Disinformation Watch

Joseph Muscat
Joseph Muscat

During 2018, The Shift News launched a campaign to reveal, address, and respond to past and ongoing disinformation. The series features ongoing examples of partial, distorted, or falsely interpreted content that has been spread by pro-government and Labour Party messaging into mainstream media with the intent to deceive and mislead.

Article included the governments distortion of facts and reports, the spin around the surplus, cover-ups, the use of false statistics, the manufacture of political support, and the governments tendency to gaslight.

Read the whole series here.

Cartoon: Maltese ‘profit’

Cartoon by Seb Tanti Burlò

See all cartoons here

Interview: Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein lays flowers at the protest memorial for slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in Valletta barricaded by the Maltese government to deny public access to the site and wipe out her memory.

Naomi Klein is a public intellectual, journalist and activist whose ideas have shaped debate in the environmental field and the politics of the left for more than a decade. In October 2018, The Shift News met her in Valletta for an exclusive interview to discuss issues surrounding press freedom, corruption under the Labour government, and of course, the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

“What I find most shocking is the tone of top government officials in Malta. It’s shocking enough for such a prominent investigative journalist to be assassinated in this gruesome and defiant way. It would be shocking anywhere in the world, but this is happening in the EU and its European Capital of Culture. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this fact, and then there is this tone of flipness, of casualness, of derision about the case,” she stated in the interview, adding that;

“It is clear that a decision has been made in Malta to generate economic growth through a series of mechanisms that encourage a certain kind of business that creates a strong likelihood for economic dealings that are not above board and that are taking place here.”

Read the interview in full here.

Analysis: On a ‘Belt and Road’ to where?

Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai. Photo: OPM/Twitter

In October 2018, Malta joined a Chinese project called the “One Belt One Road” which was promoted by a government consultant called Shiv Nair who had been blacklisted by the World Bank on two occasions.

Five years ago Chinese President Xi Jinping began promoting a network of Chinese-financed roads, pipelines, ports, power plants and other infrastructure across Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. It is the Chinese President’s master plan to project Chinese power, influence and trade across much of the world. The “One Belt One Road” initiative has been heavily criticised after it meant many countries had to take on heavy debt to develop and implement the projects suggested by the Chinese.

Malta boasts it is among the first European countries to join the project.

Read the full analysis here.

Commentary: Better to hide than save the day

Daphne Caruana Galizia
Photo: Pierre Ellul

“‘I didn’t like all his songs, but John Lennon shouldn’t have been murdered.’

I’ve never heard anyone say that.

We all know that lurking in the bushes and shooting someone is wrong. And it’s still wrong no matter what you think of John Lennon’s songs, or the breakup of The Beatles.

So why is it normal in Malta for people to say, ‘I didn’t agree with everything she wrote, but it’s terrible what happened to Daphne’?”

In this commentary by The Shift News contributor Ryan Murdock takes a look at the Maltese phenomenon of failing to outright condemn the brutal assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. He also discusses the fear of reprisals that may commentators hide behind, refusing to stand up and say what they really think. All of this results in a situation where citizens are scared to attend vigils, to speak up, and to condemn what we all know is wrong and abhorrent.

Read the full article here.

Commentary: What’s in your head, Zombie?

Helen Cutajar Joseph Muscat Michelle Muscat
Helen Cutajar, filmed in the assault on citizens laying flowers and candles at the protest memorial for Daphne Caruana Galizia on Thursday, with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his wife Michelle.

“Stuck in a past. Stuck in an idea. Stuck in a rigid interpretation of reality that’s stuck in your own head. Fossilised.”

These are the words of Lizzie Eldridge from her article on sectarianism and “the strong support of a political group which isn’t rooted in rational argument or debate but derived from blind unquestioned devotion to the Party concerned.”

Touching on issues of dehumanisation campaigns, revenge dolled out to those that dare to criticise the Party, and now the physical assault of activists, she explains how those involved manage to justify it due to a blind adoration of their political leaders. Eldridge also takes a look at one of the perpetrators of hate and violence – Helen Cutajar- someone whose whole being is shaped around her love of the Labour Party.

Read the full article here.

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