Amid the bustle of our investigations, newsroom meetings, reports, chasing Freedom of Information requests and keeping up with our international presentations, we often forget to look back on our achievements. When we do, our first question is: “Who would have thought?”.
Who would have thought that an online investigative news portal launched a mere three weeks after one of Malta’s darkest moments, the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, would go on not only to survive, but to create a community of readers and uphold the power of investigative journalism with its stories and investigations?
I was called “mad”, and told that a community-funded model would never survive in Malta: “We don’t have the market”, “you’re too radical, you need to be populist to stand a chance.” But together with those of you who have supported us through thick and thin, we proved them wrong.
There’s enough populism. We wanted to focus on investigative journalism, on holding power to account, on demanding justice. You have helped us prove that change is possible.
Some of our biggest stories this year include how Steward Healthcare filed previously hidden documents in court to prove the hospitals deal was ‘fraudulent and corrupt’. We also revealed how disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat changed the rules and awarded himself a €120, 000 golden handshake at three times the average terminal benefits paid to other cabinet members.
We were also part of a consortium of national and international journalists that investigated leaked documents from Henley & Partners that shed light on the applicants for a Maltese, and EU, passport in the first years of the programme, after the government went to great effort to bury the names of those buying citizenship among lists of naturalised citizens, belying its claims of transparency.
This is one of a number of collaborative international projects we have been part of over the years. The Shift remains a media partner of Reporters without Borders (RSF) and continues to collaborate with the Justice for Journalists Foundation, but this year the newsroom also became a member of the International Press Institute (IPI). These are only some of our international partners.
We are the only newsroom in Malta to be a member of such a prestigious network and our international accreditation is unmatched.
Several of our investigative stories have had an impact in Malta and abroad, none more so than The Shift’s six-month investigation into PL’s secret hate groups and how that research helped cement the conclusions of the public inquiry into the death of Daphne Caruana Galizia and the role political propaganda played in her death.
The international community has understood the importance and impact of our investigations and we continue to be invited to workshops in several European countries to share our knowledge and experience with others.
Alongside our investigative work, we continue to collaborate with international partners to ensure justice for Daphne, ensure that the government will implement the recommendations by the board of the public inquiry into her death, and draw attention to the press freedom situation in Malta.
All the above was made possible because, despite the challenges we face, we’ve managed to build a dedicated and hardworking team that is able to work thanks to the support of a community of readers who have stuck with us, through a pandemic that saw everyone’s funds reduced, through trolling, legal intimidation and numerous attempts at discrediting our work.
As we get a little older, and hopefully wiser, our commitment towards the public’s right to know, the right to hold power to account, and the right to justice is as unwavering as it was the day of The Shift’s first post. This remains your project, as much as ours.