From left: James Debono, Caroline Muscat and Jurgen Balzan
A news website dedicated to investigative journalism and analysis was launched yesterday by three of Malta’s most experienced campaign journalists.
The Shift brings together Caroline Muscat, a former Times of Malta news editor who had quit her job last year to become the Nationalist Party’s campaign manager, and two ex-MaltaToday journalists Jurgen Balzan and James Debono, both of whom spoke during the recent rallies organised by Civil Society Network to seek justice for murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The three have been planning their new venture – The Shift – for months now. However, their project took on a fresh sense of urgency following last month’s brutal assassination.
“The vile execution of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia is a wakeup call for civic action, to stop the greed and the rot and to assert the power of the pen over the might of criminals who want us to remain silent as they pile up their profits,” the journalists wrote in their first editorial. “It was nothing short of a declaration of war on our serenity and freedom to stand up to be counted.”
“We have come together to create The Shift months ago thinking that there could not have been a better time for a nonpartisan voice with a clear agenda for good governance, which speaks its truth to power respectfully but firmly, keeping a distance from economic and partisan agendas. We never could have anticipated that our country would descend into this nightmare,” they added.
The Shift said the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia was a wakeup call for civic action
They said there was a “silver lining” in all of this: a civic awakening which saw thousands take to the street to demand justice in two protests organised by the Civil Society Network and the birth of the Occupy Justice movement, a movement led by women which has taken the protest directly in front of the nerve centre of power.
“We have decided to take the plunge now because we also want to contribute to the civic awakening which followed the brutal elimination of a journalist who spoke her truths to power. We do not seek to step in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s shoes and our style and approach is very different. But we promise to honour the best part of her legacy, that of being a thorn in the side… of whoever is in power.”
“Standing up to be counted has become a matter of urgency”
The Shift’s first editorial
The Shift has pledged not to compete with established media houses in “providing a bulletin of events” but instead to focus on investigative journalism and in-depth political cultural and social commentary aimed to inform and entertain.
The journalists’ aims are to expose corruption and bad governance through investigative stories, provide a secure platform for whistleblowers, provide daily commentary and analysis of current affairs, organise and crowd-fund campaigns for good governance, environmental protection and social inclusion, provide a human angle to social and environmental stories, and to entertain readers with irreverent commentary and political satire
Their editorial stance is clear – in favour of promoting good governance, European liberal values, social inclusion and environmental protection.
The three journalists will be joined by cartoonist Seb Tanti Burlo and a team of experienced columnists – so far Anika Psaila Savone, Jacques Rene Zammit, Mel Hart, Justin Borg Barthet, Petra Caruana Dingli and Ingram Bondin.