Uniformity of thought and behaviour is a dangerous thing, which is why we insist that our role as journalists is to question everything. The reaction of certain individuals on social media to our article ‘Putting Things in Perspective’ reflects a closing of ranks that the Muscat administration is being accused of doing to cover up corruption and criminality.
So it’s surprising when these tactics are adopted by those on the frontline of the cause for truth and justice.
The minute we, as journalists, start to hold back on information simply because of who’s involved, we are not serving the public interest. This is not about “a competition of egos”, as those happy to jump on the bandwagon are claiming. It’s not about “undermining the threats” – did any of you making that claim read the article which addresses that point specifically?
It’s about stating facts.
In a blog post yesterday, Manuel Delia admits to having “left room for misinterpretation and controversy” – which confirms what we wrote in our article. We have no hordes to command on social media because we believe that undermines democracy and we believe in open debate. We made our point and we move on.
But we believe in addressing questions and arguments raised by the public, although we will never seek to silence them by insulting them. While we stand by what we’ve said, we are addressing some of the points we’ve noted:
1 Manuel Delia says he can’t understand my piece. Maybe that’s why he attributes to me things I never said. Contrary to what he claims in his blog post, I did not say he is fleeing abroad to take up a new job. I said he was going on a temporary, paid placement to a European city, which he confirmed during our conversation.
2 He says his original announcement may have left room for misinterpretation. My piece was written to clear up this widespread misinterpretation after he failed to do so. It was written because I was asked why The Shift wasn’t reacting to Delia’s announcement that he needs to flee the country. I said we have not reacted because he isn’t fleeing the country – at least not in the sense he gave everyone to believe.
I was bombarded with demands from many of Delia’s supporters that The Shift must react to this ostensible need to flee the country because Delia fears for his and his family’s lives, as stated by him in an interview to Italian organisation Articolo 21. Clearly, I could not write something I knew was not quite correct.
In my article, I clearly explained that I called Manuel Delia to ask him to make that very clarification himself, but he failed to do so.
3 In my article, I said that the story was being overhyped. Hence the Shift’s more level-headed reaction.
4 We are obviously not responsible for distortions by other blogs and newsrooms.
I did not say Delia was taking a holiday or camping out. “Taking a break” was in quotes, and, in context, meant a break from the heat activists and journalists face. It’s also a perfectly acceptable synonym for “rest and recuperate” which are the words used on the ECPMF website. What we do not understand is why Delia failed to be clear about this.
5 Delia’s response was to hype up our own reaction. There he goes again.
In addition, after having admitted that my article was correct, he stood by as his supporters took to social media to attack me and my colleagues for having spoken the truth. The dishonesty, tone and vocabulary of many of these comments are disgraceful, using pejorative gender-bashing tropes to divert attention away from the truth we wrote and discredit that truth by dismissing us as “jealous,” “bitter,” “despicable,” “bitches”.
The connotations of this approach, coming from this camp, can’t have been lost on many.
Correcting misinformation is not a “bitch fight” or a “cat fight”. It’s our duty as journalists.
6 Finally, we never said he lied about getting threats. We said he juiced it up. And reading his own fuller explanation, you can see we were right.
We’ve said this before and we will say it again: we do exactly what it says on the tin. We serve the public interest, which we do not narrowly define to one group.
Now, we’re going to focus on the important stuff because investigative journalism is what we’re about.