The findings of The Shift’s six-month investigation into the Labour Party’s secret online Facebook groups that worked to isolate and dehumanise Daphne Caruana Galizia, both before and after her assassination, will be presented at the upcoming International Press Institute’s (IPI) World Congress in Vienna on 16 September.
The Shift’s founder and managing editor, Caroline Muscat, will present the investigation’s discoveries as part of a masterclass in combatting online harassment. The workshop, which is organised in collaboration with the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media will cover three areas of discussion; creating a culture of safety (both at State level as well as within newsrooms) that encourages journalists to report online abuse, nurturing a community with online audiences and investigating online harassment.
The World Congress is IPI’s flagship event that each year brings together a global network of journalists, editors and publishers with over 300 leading media professionals from over 40 countries. The main theme for this year’s congress will ask how journalism around the world can be advanced, protected and sustained.
The event, to be held between the 15 – 17 September in Vienna, will comprise a series of events, including a discussion on how to support independent media under attack with a number of notable speakers, including Maria Ressa, co-founder and director of the independent news website Rappler, as well as Galina Timchenko founder and CEO of the influential dissident Russian news website Meduza, which the Russian government recently designated as a ‘foreign agent’.
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Our 2021 World Congress will run Sept 15-17 as a truly global event that will bring to #Vienna the breakers of some of the big stories of our time.
— IPI – The Global Network for Press Freedom (@globalfreemedia) August 26, 2021
IPI is one of a number of international press freedom organisations that closely monitor the developments in connection with the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia as well as threats to press freedom in Malta.
The Shift previously collaborated with the IPI in the form of two guest articles for the reporting series: ‘Media Freedom in Europe in the Shadow of Covid’. The first article dealt with the government’s lack of transparency when providing public aid to media outlets and its restrictive attitude toward access to information while the second focused on the role of Malta’s State broadcaster and party-owned media in shaping the Covid-19 narrative in the country.
The research that will be presented during the IPI workshop was first presented by Caroline Muscat to the board of the public inquiry that was tasked with determining the State’s role in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. The undercover investigation began after The Shift’s journalists and researchers were given access by a whistleblower to numerous previously closely guarded groups.
The Shift’s research charts these groups’ role in the online hatred campaign faced by Caruana Galizia and how the groups continued their dehumanisation campaign well after her death while also discrediting government critics, journalists, activists, and opposition MPs.
However, it was the involvement of government officials and public service employees in actively administering and moderating the groups “including screening members for PL membership and curating content by removing critical views,” that set these groups apart.
The Shift’s research was also confirmed by Bloomberg and other research bodies such as the University of Oxford which consider Malta as employing State-sponsored trolling tactics but most importantly, The Shift’s investigation proved pivotal to the conclusions reached by the public inquiry into her assassination.