The Institute of Maltese Journalists has called for a concerted effort for the profession to be shown more respect, especially towards female journalists who face constant harassment on social media.
On World Press Freedom Day, the IĠM acknowledged and applauded the work of journalists, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, during which the dissemination of accurate and quality information has been critical.
However, the IĠM also noted that the pandemic has posed its own set of obstacles for journalists, including restrictions on press freedom.
“The IĠM cannot accept any attempts to use the pandemic to adopt restrictions on press freedom or in any way silence debate,” it said in a statement.
“It notes with dismay the constant harassment women journalists face on social media, which is not only demeaning but also serves as a disincentive for young people to join the profession,” the statement said.
The issues were discussed at length during a visit by the IĠM council and President George Vella, where an emphasis was placed on the importance of press freedom and the role of the State in protecting journalists from “harassment, threats or censorship so that information can be disseminated without suppression.”
In line with his vision of a unified Malta, Vella insisted that journalists play a key role in reducing divisions and achieving national unity.
Like many other professions over the last year, journalists have been hard-hit by the pandemic, with many media houses facing immeasurable losses despite the Covid-19 wage supplement scheme and a one-time media grant provided by the government.
Last July, Lovin Malta filed a Freedom of Information request to Malta Enterprise to acquire a full breakdown of how much aid each media house has received, but this was turned down.
Guidelines showed that TV media providers are entitled to up to €45,000 a month in direct state aid, while newspapers are entitled to €10,000, online-only news portals (like Lovin Malta) are entitled to €5,000 and radio stations are entitled to €3,500. Media houses that provide a news service on more than one portal or channel are entitled to €10,000, the same as newspapers.
With direct aid and advertising combined, ONE and NET would be eligible to €90,000 a month in government revenue each.
Malta Enterprise refused to provide a full breakdown of how much direct Covid-19 aid each media house has actually received, citing confidentiality clauses under the Malta Enterprise Act.
“The IĠM would like to start a discussion on extending such assistance to all media houses annually, as happens in various other European countries,” the statement ended.
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