Speech by IGM Chairperson – Malta Journalism Awards Final 3rd May 2014

“It is also my pleasure to welcome you to this special evening where the best works of Maltese journalists that were published or broadcast on the local and international media last year in various sectors of journalism are fittingly rewarded. This evening I wish  to start with a provocative statement: at a time when the electronic media and other means of social communication are becoming more established in local society, the emphasis has to be on what is journalist and not on who is a journalist.”

“This is a concept that was explained by Kelly McBride from the Ethics Faculty of the Poynter Institute in the United States during a programme this weed with the theme Ethical Journalism in the Digital Era. McBride said that journalism can be recognised through work that enables a better understanding of the community in which we live, and by fulfilling one’s civic duties and obligations towards democracy. Later on we are going to hear more about ethics from President Emeritus Dr George Abela.

I think the time has come when all those who work in journalism recognise the important, crucial role that an institution like the Institute of Maltese Journalists is fulfilling in a totally voluntary manner to raise the level of journalism in our country, to have a tertiary level of journalism and to behave more ethically to increase the credibility of and confidence in the local media.

To this end, the IĠM last year changed its Statute and invited local media owners to send a journalist representative to give his/her contribution to the Institute with the same responsibilities and voting rights of other council members. So far, PBS and media.link have accepted this invitation and I expect the other media owners to join us in the coming days.

Here I wish to remark that the Institute does not have the resources to be proactive in all the goes on in the country and so we always wait to receive complains and for people in the field to send us reports and inform us on developments. In instances of violence on members of the media, the Institute will immediately issue a condemnation, whoever it is. In other instances, we first investigate and then issue our considered position.

Last month the Institute had its first meeting with Prime Minister Dr Joseph Muscat at Castille. During this meeting, we raised important points for the profession. We asked for criminal libel to be removed, we mentioned the need for a tertiary level course in Journalism and explained the IĠM’s efforts to introduce a common Code of Ethics for all the local media.

As I stated in a comment to the media after the meeting: “This was a highly productive meeting, with the Prime Minister and his team highly receptive and prepared to discuss the agenda we brought to the table. I am satisfied with the progress registered and am confident that progress will be registered on many issues within the coming months.”

What a difference when you have an institution like the IĠM making these proposals instead of media owners and individual journalists putting forward these complaints! There is strength in unity and I would like to think that in the past 25 years since the Institute was set up it has made a difference and made a worthy contribution to Maltese society.

I cannot but also mention the event organised this week by Leading Talks, in collaboration with the Tumas Fenech Foundation for Education in Journalism, for which the BBC journalist Zeinab Badawi was invited. I congratulate the Tumas Fenech Foundation – our partners for a number of years – for this collaboration, which I understand is the start of other similar activities that are of interest to journalists, and appeal to journalists to attend and contribute for the benefit of the profession.

To come to this evening’s event, it is worth recalling that today is World Press Freedom Day. In this regard, the Institute of Maltese Journalists – which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary of its foundation – was always in the forefront working for the interests of all those who are lined to the local media. I always tell my fellow council members that we must always seek to apply the principle of the argument and see how that principle should be applied in every situation.

It is the same for whoever runs a newsroom or any communication medium. See what the process is, identify your basic values and ensure there are no conflicts. Through these values you should always seek the truth, behave in a transparent manner and endeavour to serve your community.

There were more than 70 submissions in this year’s Awards of which 40 were selected as finalists in 16 categories. I believe that there is room for more submissions and, as we always do, we will continue to try to improve the categories to reflect local journalism elements that we wish to encourage.

I end with some thank-yous, without seeking to repeat what is in my message in the brochure. I welcome the two new sponsors: Hamilton Travel and Crystal Finance Investments Limited. Thanks go to:

  • The jury – for the work they undertook. I know from personal experience what a commitment it is – all to improve the level of journalism in our country;
  • A big thank-you goes to the sponsors, both those who support the Institute year after year – you see them listed on the magnificent new backdrop behind me this year – along with those who from this year have started to contribute, which is also appreciated. Special thanks go to the other sponsors that have been committed to helping and supporting the IĠM for long years in the organisation of these Awards; and
  • Thanks to all those who worked so that once more, we can keep this annual appointment: my fellow Council members, the organiser Roderick Agius, and his team, assisted by the Secretary of the Institute, Tony Barbaro Sant.

I congratulate all the finalists. Among them are those who have received an award after having entered in previous editions and not receiving an award. Do not be discouraged and continue to submit because in this way you will be choosing your best work throughout the year. I always say that the fact that you are finalists is already an honour. Not everyone can be a winner and sometimes there will be a minimal difference between the first placed and those who are runners-up.

My final though is on the Institute’s anniversary that we are celebrating in November: 25 years. There were those who thought that this Institute would not last more than a few months. I am satisfied that, along with many other members before me, to have contributed to local journalism and augur that we will continue to do this for many years to come.” – Malcolm J. Naudi