Times of Malta’s editor-in-chief Herman Grech has called out social media commenters who dismiss journalists who reveal stories related to top-level corruption and crime as “Nationalists”.
“We’ve grown tired reporting on all of these stories, but when we do so, people don’t wonder what on earth is going on but instead say things like ‘Sit down, you Nationalists, 60K lumi!’ Are they serious? This is about our country, not partisan politics.”
“If you’re unable to distinguish between corruption and justice for a journalist’s murder and politics, then we have a problem.”
Grech was part of a panel of journalists interviewed by Andrew Azzopardi on his radio show on 103 Malta’s Heart last Saturday.
At one point in the show, he warned that a lack of critical thinking is “Malta’s biggest plague”.
“Whether it’s our education or our upbringing, the fact is we don’t know how to ask questions,” he said, before addressing his host directly.
“Andrew, you’re a lecturer and you teach your students how to be critical and question you. We can argue and discuss many things and have a beer afterwards, but for many people it’s all about what their politician says is right and wrong. Political tribalism is a problem.”
“Graffitti were huge Labourites during the 90s and now they’re Nationalists… can’t we grow up in this country and realise that some people aren’t led by their political masters and actually have minds which tell them what’s right and wrong.”
He also expressed his dismay that Malta’s EU accession 18 years ago didn’t change this mentality.
“I cannot understand it. I voted for Malta to join the EU, and I still strongly support our membership, and one of the main reasons I support it is because I feel we need to become more open-minded and move away from this small-island mentality.”
“However, over 15 years have passed and we’ve learned nothing. I thought that if people traveled more, if we opened our minds a bit more and stop thinking we’re the centre of the world, we’d improve a bit. However, we didn’t.”
Grech was also asked about the recent arraignment of Allied Newspapers’ now-suspense managing director Michel Rizzo on charges of money laundering and fraud, believed to be in relation to a Malta Enterprise grant.
However, the editor-in-chief reiterated his stance that a brick wall separates the editorial and commercial arms of the newspaper he works at.
“If one of my journalists meets up with some people, it’s my job to know what they’re doing.
However, I don’t know what the commercial arm is doing. Our journalists are there to investigate but if you ask me about what happened within Times of Malta, I’ll keep saying that the editorial arm and the commercial arm aren’t related to each other.”
“If they were, we’d have been careful on how we reported certain things and we wouldn’t have published the news that [former managing director] Adrian Hillman is going to be arrested.”
He also warned against adopting a cynical mindset and believing “everyone is corrupt”.
“If we tarnish everyone with the same brush, it will be the true criminals who benefit.”
What do you make of Herman Grech’s comments?