Aqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti.
This year, The Shift has been at the forefront of some of the biggest stories, ranging from Air Malta’s closure machinations to the details of Rosianne Cutajar’s fraudulent “consultancy” contract, but this community-funded newsroom’s contributions went beyond investigative reporting.
As the year comes to a close, here’s a look back at The Shift’s projects and achievements throughout the year, all of which were made possible thanks to the support of our readers.
The Shift wins all its Freedom of Information (FOI) cases
The Shift has won all the appeals filed at the Information and Data Protection Commission Tribunal, chaired by lawyers Anna Mallia and Noel Camilleri.
In several cases, the government filed a court case to repeal that decision. Still, The Shift has won all 18 cases filed in Court with Justice Lawrence Mintoff, ordering the ministries to make the requested information available.
The appeals relate to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests filed by The Shift in 2021 that asked government ministries and entities to make available copies of consultancy contracts and payments made to Saviour Balzan as a private consultant to different government ministries and agencies while running an independent newsroom.
After a two-year battle for information, we’ll be coming to you with news on this in the new year.
A successful conference
The Shift’s “Silencing Freedom. Weaponising the Law” conference in October drew stellar panellists and an engaged audience, revealing an appetite for discussion and knowledge.
The event brought together international and local legal experts and members of the media community to discuss how SLAPPs and other legal methods are used to harass journalists and how this directly impacts the information they provide to the public.
The debate delved into the evolving nature and definitions of SLAPPs, their impact on journalists’ daily work and the public’s right to know, and the tools developed to fight against them.
The Shift’s investigation among award finalists
This year, an investigation by The Shift was nominated as a finalist for the European Parliament’s Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism among 268 entries from newsrooms in EU countries.
The Shift’s investigative article ‘Courting Qatar: President invites alleged terrorism financiers to invest in Malta’, authored by Founder and Managing Editor Caroline Muscat in January, chronicles Malta’s shady dealings in Qatar.
The Shift’s article revealed how President George Vella sought investment from Qatari-resident Syrian billionaires accused only two months earlier of funding an Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group.
The Shift subsequently revealed that the Qatari government covered many of the costs for several delegations from Malta to visit the country within a few months.
The Shift also took part in several collaborative projects. These included in-depth, cross-border research conducted by The Shift and international partners that found how hundreds of thousands of euro of member state funds are being wasted due to hunting in Malta, a practice allowed to increase in violation of EU rules and abetted by the government to “secure the votes of the hunting lobby”.
In May, The Shift was also part of a joint investigation with The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and The Times of Malta that discovered that disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat’s consultancy contract with a Swiss company is suspected of funnelling public money back to the investors behind Vitals Global Health Care Group (VGH), now under intense scrutiny by investigators.
The Shift also discovered that the companies involved in the hospital’s concession deal sent at least €7 million to Accutor. This Swiss payroll company played a crucial role in funnelling funds between investors. We discovered that those same investors spent millions of euros living large while the hospitals under their care were virtually ignored.
Crowdfunding campaigns and an art exhibition
Our year-long collaborative investigations were completed thanks to the generous support of our readers. Conducting in-depth investigative stories requires time and resources, so The Shift has intensified its fundraising efforts this year to seek more support to ensure the newsroom’s investigations.
To help achieve this goal, The Shift launched two crowdfunding campaigns and an online art exhibition. The exhibition includes 22 pieces of work selected and priced by Malta’s top artists, several of which are still available. The artists receive 30% of each sale, with the rest going to help keep The Shift running.
Meanwhile, our winter crowdfunding campaign, “We’re digging deeper to level up”, has reached almost 70% of its target. Be generous this Christmas, and help us reach our goal. We’ll give back with bigger and better stories.