International press freedom organisation Reporters without Borders (RSF) has publicly come out in support of The Shift and condemned attacks made against it by three news organisations in Malta in recent weeks.
“The Shift is a vital source of independent reporting in the midst of a deeply divided and politicised media landscape, as Malta’s press freedom record continues to deteriorate,” RSF said on Friday.
The organisation’s support comes after three newspapers, The Times of Malta, Malta Today and The Malta Independent, penned a coordinated statement disassociating themselves from a report prepared by The Shift for the International Press Institute (IPI) that partly focused on the lack of transparency surrounding government funding of the media during COVID-19 and its associated risks.
RSF said it had raised concerns about lack of transparency in funding of the media in Malta, in particular regarding the secretive terms of government COVID-19 subsidies to many outlets.
“This has worrying press freedom implications and must be investigated further,” the organisation added.
RSF has raised concerns about a lack of transparency in funding of media in Malta – in particular regarding the secretive terms of government Covid subsidies to many outlets. This has worrying press freedom implications and must be investigated further. https://t.co/fmYpWBttGo 2/
— RSF (@RSF_inter) December 4, 2020
“RSF has also raised concerns about division in Malta’s media community. Safety of journalists remains of crucial importance in the aftermath of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination. Attempts to isolate individual journalists increase the risk for all,” the international press freedom organisation said.
International Campaign Director Rebecca Vincent also expressed support for The Shift: “These isolation attempts are obvious, counterproductive, and most worryingly, put people at risk. It was this same climate of division and hostility that left Daphne Caruana Galizia particularly vulnerable. This cannot be allowed to happen again”.
It is this sort of behaviour that I was referring to in this thread, following my last trip to Malta. Such actions leave individuals exposed and vulnerable, at a time when safety of journalists is still of serious concern in Malta. It has to stop if this division is ever to heal. https://t.co/sp90qXP5Va
— Rebecca Vincent (@rebecca_vincent) December 4, 2020
Vincent expressed solidarity and warned that such isolation attempts increase the risk to journalists. “You’re stronger together. You can build each other up and help protect each other. You’re facing similar pressures and challenges – fight them together. Leave no one exposed and vulnerable. And at the very least, do no harm,” she added.