Malta is lucky enough to have a large number of hard-working journalists working tirelessly everyday to keep the public informed. But with decreasing transparency, dwindling media budgets and increased scrutiny from the public through social media, this all-important profession is becoming more thankless by the day.
That’s why we’ve decided to start an annual tradition of celebrating the most significant journalists of the year and the ones to watch out for in the year ahead. Don’t forget to suggest your favourite journalists in the comments below.
10. Raphael Vassallo (MaltaToday) – Best Opinion
Raphael Vassallo is in a class of his own. His column is regular work of art, taking throwaway phrases from news stories and using them as hooks for elaborate and persuasive arguments dripping with humour and sarcasm. He’s the closest thing we have to John Oliver and we love him for it.
9. Ivan Camilleri (The Times) – The One To Watch In 2017
Ivan Camilleri’s aversion to anything Labour can get annoying at times, but his many years of experience and the fact that he’s worked for years within Brussels will give him an edge next year as Malta enters the EU Council Presidency. Expect some big stories from him coming your way.
8. Caroline Muscat (The Times) – Newsmaker Of The Year
Caroline Muscat shocked everyone by quitting The Times in October to join the Nationalist Party. And while some might say the move compromised her journalistic work, it would be unfair to forget the contribution she made when she was leading the newspaper and uncovering one political scandal after another. Her move also made her the biggest journo newsmaker of 2016. Here’s wishing her a speedy recovery, following her unfortunate announcement last month.
7. Rachel Attard (Malta Independent) – Best Head Of News
Rachel Attard used to co-produce Bondiplus with partner Lou Bondi. Since the show came to an end, she joined Malta Independent as Head of News, building and leading a newsroom of young and very promising reporters who she is constantly training and developing into stronger journalists. Watch out for Helena Grech, Julian Bonnici, Neil Camilleri, Gabriel Schembri and Kevin Schembri Orland among others in the year to come.
6. Mark Zammit Cordina (Timesofmalta.com) – Best Videojournalist
Mark Zammit Cordina is a video journalist who seems to always find himself in the right place at the right time. But it’s not luck that gets him there. One great example is his footage of the Golden Bay turtle eggs hatching in the dead of night earlier this summer. After spending long nights on standby waiting for some action, Zammit Cordina was right there when he needed to be and his footage was delightful.
5. Philip Leone Ganado (The Times) – Best On Social Media
By day he’s a journalist, by night a standup comedian. The sweet spot comes on Facebook when Philip Leone Ganado attends a press event and shares his hilarious observations.
4. James Debono (MaltaToday) – Biggest Local Impact
James Debono is the local go-to journalist for two crucial sectors: environmental journalism and surveys. His almost obsessive scrutiny of the Planning Authority has had a huge impact on public discourse this year. The fact that he is also Malta’s only real pollster makes him a force to be reckoned with and definitely someone to watch in 2017.
3. Matthew Vella (MaltaToday) – The Most Readable Journalist In Malta
Matthew Vella, editor of MaltaToday’s website, has a knack for finding good stories and treating them in an objective way. But his more unique skill is explaining stories in interesting and bite-size ways. His articles are consistently among the most readable. Here’s a good example.
2. Daphne Caruana Galizia (daphnecaruanagalizia.com) – Biggest International Impact
Daphne Caruana Galizia’s journalism credentials are often questioned locally but after being celebrated by EU publication Politico as a ‘one-woman Wikileaks’, her international credibility becomes difficult to contest. This year, her involvement in the Panama Papers story was enough to make her the Maltese journalist with the biggest international impact.
1. Mario Frendo (NET News) – Journalist Of The Year
If there’s one journalist with the balls to ask tough questions to the right people, it’s the Nationalist Party’s geeky superstar Mario Frendo, who it must be said is only 23-years-old. It may seem strange for a party-employed reporter to make it to a journalism list but this guy has turned partisan journalism into an art. Unlike some of his contemporaries and predecessors from both sides of the partisan media, Frendo manages to frustrate his interviewer while keeping his audience entertained with sharp comebacks that aren’t over the top.
Vote: The Public’s Choice
List your favourite journalist in the comments below or on Facebook and we’ll crown the most mentioned as the Public’s Choice Journalist of 2016.
BONUS: Sebastian Tanti Burlo’ (Best Cartoonist, The Times)
Two years ago, Sebastian took over the cartoon slots that his late father and legendary cartoonist Maurice Tanti Burlo’ held for decades. In this time he has left an indelible mark on The Times, with a darker and more grotesque style that ties in nicely with the current national zeitgeist. Tanti Burlo’ has now also spread his wings to a bi-weekly column in The Sunday Times that paints pictures with words as well as images.