Every time new findings are exposed and the authorities fail to act investigative journalists become more vulnerable, according to Caroline Muscat, the founder of The Shift, who spoke with Lana Estemirova “about journalists in danger and the stories that get them in trouble”.
In the podcast, Trouble with the Truth, they discussed the aftermath of the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, the street protests in late 2019 and justice denied despite political resignations resulting from a “remarkable” achievement by civil society.
“Every step of the investigation has been obstructed by power holders in Malta who were the focus of her investigations,” Estemirova said.
Estemirova is no stranger to the dangers of exposing corruption. Her mother Natalya, a human rights activist, was abducted and killed over a decade ago.
Muscat spoke about the media landscape in Malta and how political parties still dominate the agenda.
“The problems we face have become more intense. Challenges related to funding are far more pronounced in a small country like Malta,” Muscat explained, adding that this has had a huge repercussion on debate in the public domain.
Muscat said The Shift was set up in response to the perpetrators who assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
“The website was set up three weeks after Daphne’s assassination. It wasn’t a platform developed with years of planning. We just jumped into it.”
The Shift’s model makes it independent of any political interference making it, as Muscat put it, “a people’s portal”.
“From the start, we knew this wasn’t a murder but an assassination. For this reason, we chose a model that would ensure we were independent of political interference.”
She spoke of her conversations with Caruana Galizia and about the misogyny and the hate campaign she faced for years by the Party in power.
“It was when I started The Shift that I understood the harassment she faced. It is so much easier to isolate a journalist who is not part of an institution.”
The Shift has recently revealed that the government gifted shareholders €40 million in excise tax dues, transferring them to taxpayers instead.
Commenting on the state of the public inquiry looking into the murder of Caruana Galizia, Muscat said that court sessions are revealing a story of political interference and of police chiefs who did not follow through on findings.
“The more we reveal, the clearer it becomes that there is an interest in the truth not emerging.”
The podcast by Lana Estemirova is produced in partnership with the Justice for Journalists Foundation.