It is The Shift’s third anniversary.
It was born out of the darkest of moments; a moment that left us all stunned, a moment we never imagined would happen in Malta – Daphne Caruana Galizia’s brutal assassination.
The free press is described as being a fundamental pillar of democracy. In Malta, that pillar, already vulnerable, came crashing down with Daphne’s assassination.
The helplessness and anger of that moment scarred many of us, but most of all it opened our eyes to the true nature of the corruption that had been allowed to gorge itself on the very heart of our democracy.
The Shift started its journey from this point and, over the past three years, it is a journey that has often felt too daunting and, at times, the effort futile. What possible difference could a small independent newsroom funded through donations from pocket money and pensions make?
And there you have it. Our supporters, every individual who makes a donation believes we are making a difference. It is that support that has carried The Shift through, even in the most difficult times we are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is that support that has allowed us to be financially independent and free from the shackles of government or corporate manipulation.
It is that support that has paid for investigations we have carried out exposing corruption in the government’s so-called “roadmap”, such as the Montenegro deal, Electrogas, Streamcast, the Vitals hospitals’ deal and more.
Three years of exposing the depths and extent of corruption.
Three years of exposing lies and misinformation.
Three years of keeping the public informed.
— Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation (@daphnefdtn) November 12, 2020
Secretive power loathes journalists who do their job: who push back, ask the critical questions, leave no stone unturned. The attacks we have faced by government officials and their surrogates shows we were never a newsroom that Castille called with its ‘exclusive’ stories – and we are proud of that.
We were never after scoops that propagated a government line or served a political purpose.
Power rewards the collusion of journalists with faint recognition: a place at the table, a bottle of fine whiskey at Christmas, a call in the middle of the night for an ‘exclusive’, a programme (or several of them) on PBS and guaranteed advertising, even direct orders.
Renowned investigative journalist John Pilger makes the point that “it is those journalists who have shown a disrespect for authoritarianism that has allowed them to alert their readers to vital, hidden truths”.
It is the great mavericks in journalism whose work continues to inspire – journalists like Robert Fisk, Edward R. Murrow, Martha Gellhorn, Wilfred Burchett – over those who are perhaps more celebrated.
‘Objectivity’ is very often used as a cover for official lies. The invisible boundaries of ‘news’ allow false narratives to become accepted facts and official deceptions to be propagated and amplified.
For not parroting those lies and misinformation, we are accused of having an agenda in a political duopoly that feeds on each other’s illness. But we were never interested in feeding a political system that is flawed and fails the public in seeking its own survival.
During the last three years, The Shift has investigated and exposed the depths and extent of corruption. It has unravelled the excuses and laid bare the facts without fear or favour.
Happy birthday to @TheShiftNews! Three years of tireless work by the wonderful @muscatcar and her team investigating stories that others don’t dare touch in Malta, in the face of tremendous pressure. @RSF_inter has been proud to partner with this courageous organisation. https://t.co/uG0EjL8EbZ
— Rebecca Vincent (@rebecca_vincent) November 12, 2020
We often lose sight of these achievements as we focus on the negative in the isolation of our daily work and it is our supporters who constantly remind this small newsroom how far we have come on a shoestring budget.
A lot has changed in three years, and we are proud that at least part of that change has been instigated by The Shift’s investigations.
It has been a tough three years and we are under no illusion that the next three years will be any easier. But we are determined to press ahead.
Why is journalism like this so important? As Pilger adds: “Without it, our sense of injustice would lose its vocabulary and citizens would not be armed with the information they need to fight”.
That is why The Shift was always your project. My thanks go to all of you who have stood with us on this journey. Together with you and your unwavering support, we can see the light of a new dawn.