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9 Lovin Malta Stories That Won A Journalism Award Last Weekend

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Lovin Malta has won an award in all the three categories we had been nominated for at this year’s Malta Journalism Awards, which went down last Saturday. We took home the top prize for the Best Human Interest Stories, the Best Opinion Pieces, and the Best E-Journalism of last year. The Institute of Maltese Journalists (IĠM) announced the names of the 56 finalists for this year’s awards earlier this year. Now in its 28th edition, the annual award show has grown to feature 22 categories.

Every category’s nominee had three stories to their name which helped them get to the final stages of the Journalism Awards. Here are the mentioned Lovin Malta stories (and writers) which won awards.

Best Human Interest Stories

David Grech Urpani

1. The story of Jake Vella, the most inspiring kid in the world

Seven-year-old Jake stole the hearts of millions around the world with his unique story.

The resilient, triathlon-running boy is battling one of the rarest medical conditions on the planet, ROHHAD-NET, which has Jake gaining weight no matter how much he exercises or diets. Only 75 people around the world currently have the same condition, and no one has lived beyond the age of 22.

Lovin Malta sat down with the inspirational kid and his parents, telling a story that quickly vent viral. A video about Jake Vella’s life and trials was shared over 70,000 times, racking up over 5.3 million views. The young Maltese boy went global, with his story making it to international media like The Daily Mail, Men’s Health and ABC News. Eventually, the story got to Jake Vella’s personal heroes, the triathlon-running Brownlee Brothers, who had a 30-minute Skype call with him to congratulate him for his determination and hard work

2. Joanne Ellul Lanfranco, the Maltese woman who won anorexia after an 11-year battle

At 18 years old, Joanne Ellul Lanfranco had a bad breakup which left her devastated. 

At one point, her diet consisted of just one packet of crackers for a whole week, and very quickly, she dropped from a healthy weight of 55kg to just 35kg. Eventually, Joanne’s anorexia starting having devastating effects on her body, with the young woman’s heart sometimes skipping a beat and stopping her from doing mundane physical tasks like walking. Specialists had warned her family that at any time, her heart could just stop beating.

Joanne still managed to turn things round, not only managing to gain all her weight back, but has also taken up bodybuilding and powerlifting. A Lovin Malta video detailing Joanne’s 11-year battle with anorexia racked up over 850 shares and nearly 200,000 views.

3. Antonio Flores, the young Maltese athlete who decided to amputate his leg to continue running

Born with clubfoot, 27-year-old athlete Antonio Flores has loved sports and athletics for over a decade. At only 18-years-old, he was Malta’s only delegate at the Summer Paralympics in Beijing, racing alongside Paralympic legend Oscar Pistorius.

Years down the line, however, Antonio had to endure a great deal of pain and even more surgeries, until he was eventually told by doctors and surgeons to forget his passion of running. It was here that he decided to go for the drastic option of amputation and start afresh. Antonio is now back on the track, and is also a graduated podiatrist with one objective; helping others who might face any similar problems to the ones he’s had to endure.

Speaking to Antonio a couple of hours after his operation, Lovin Malta shared the young Maltese man’s story and his message to the world to never give up. Our short video recounting everything Antonio Flores had been through racked up over 150,000 views.

Best Opinion Articles

Christian Peregin

4. Something’s Not Right When People Think The Government Faked A Hijack

With 2016 coming to a close with a hijack on Maltese soil days away from Christmas, 2017 was bound to be an interesting one. Add the way the previous year had started with a ministerial resignation and carried on with Panama Papers, and conspiracy theories quickly became the order of the day.

With everything from a South American news portal listing 11 reasons why this might have been a “staging” or “public relations campaign” to the overarching (and worrying) statistic that half the country genuinely believed that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his team are seriously corrupt, this opinion piece delved into the worrying implications of so many people thinking Joseph Muscat faked the hijack.

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5. I’m A Switcher Who Still Believes In Labour’s 2013 Vision

A political tell-all days before 2017’s turbulent general election.

A journalist’s perspective of what it meant to switch to Labour in 2013 and desperately hope that the then four-year-old vision is resurrected. 

“But too much has changed in the past few weeks to stay silent and pretend everything is normal.”

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6. Goodbye Paradise Bay, You Will Be Missed

Paradise Bay holds fond, nostalgic memories for a large portion of the Maltese population, but many of us haven’t been to the northern beach in years. 

An opinion piece on the shocking return to Paradise Bay, which has steadily gone from “a small but pretty stretch of golden sand made for a perfect bed from which to gaze at Gozo in the distance” to a sore sight of “offensive man-made terraces and concrete structures”, “rugged pebbles and small boulders that make getting into the water a treacherous manoeuvre”, and “ugly plastic deckchairs and tacky umbrellas.”

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Best E-Journalism

Christian Peregin

7. The Egrant Exposed Series (Part OneTwoThree & Four)

A series of online pieces which was written during last year’s turbulent election campaign that sought to help readers navigate the intricacies of the huge story that triggered the election in the first place. Following Daphne Caruana Galizia’s breaking of the Egrant saga, Malta’s Prime Minister and his wife came under investigation over claims they were on the receiving end of secretive company structures, trusts and international transactions. 

This series of articles had everything from basic explainers to fact-checking points, obtaining exclusive replies from protagonists like accountant Brian Tonna and journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. 

The stories racked up more than 155,000 views and provided readers with a comprehensive understanding of a truly complex story, the outcome of which is now in the hands of a magistrate to determine. 

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8. The New York Best Last Supper Saga

What started out as a fun story about a provocative advertising campaign by popular local food franchise New York Best escalated into a huge nationwide talking point, with many people finding the artwork offensive and others enjoying its irreverent tone. It even ended up with the ‘billboard’ being defaced and making it to the news by the end of the weekend.

Lovin Malta covered all angles of this story, with several follow ups that made full use of the online medium, with embedded videos, Facebook reactions and online polls to help readers get a sense of the nation’s reaction. The saga also ended up getting three additional follow-ups.

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9. Shadow Health Minister Stephen Spiteri and the medical certificate controversy

This investigation by Lovin Malta exposed a racket by Shadow Health Minister Stephen Spiteri, who was giving out medical certificates to patients without seeing them first. Lovin Malta was able to find out about the scheme simply by phoning the receptionist of the pharmacy at which Stephen Spiteri works.  

The recording, published online, exposed the methods used by Stephen Spiteri, who still denies any wrongdoing. The case is now being investigated by the Medical Council. The investigation was reported in all local media, was raised during a court case and even caught the attention of the Prime Minister. 

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This year’s edition of the Malta Journalism Awards, hosted at The Palace Hotel in Sliema, saw IĠM giving their annual Gold Award to slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia (who became the first woman to ever win the prestigious award).

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Tag someone who still hasn’t read these nine stories yet!

READ NEXT: Daphne Caruana Galizia Awarded Institute Of Maltese Journalists’ Gold Award

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