What happened yesterday in Żebbuġ:
1. If you get your news from ONE News: Nothing.
2. If you get your news from NET News: It was thanks to the PN’s pressure, and only them, that demolition of a public garden was stopped after lack of consultation by Infrastructure Malta. There was no independent local councillor that stood in protest at the site, alone.
3. If you get your news from TVM: Repeated the PR issued by the PN.
4. If you get your news from any independent media such as LovinMalta, Malta Today, the Times, Newsbook, Independent (and perhaps others): Steve Zammit Lupi, an independent local councillor in Żebbuġ, took action on his own after demolition works were going to take place in a public garden. No consultation with the Council had taken place, and no notice was given.
I will not go into the merits of whether the road should be widened or not. The rape of our land has become pretty clear over the years, and I simply hope that someone, someday, will realise that we are suffocating our country more than it already is.
What I want to talk about is the coverage. I find it appalling that neither of the party-owned stations nor the state television, dared to credit Steve Zammit Lupi for his actions. His determination and urgency to act put the issue on yesterday’s headlines; making the country aware of the arrogance that certain agencies operate with daily.
Yesterday’s episode and its coverage show that we desperately need to move away from the dominance shown by party-owned media. It was made clear (not that it wasn’t before) that the intention is to make the party look good and not disseminate facts. If it were not for the independent media, people would not be aware of what truly happened in Żebbuġ.
Think about the people who do not have access to social media or choose to follow news on their television – they cannot know what happened yesterday. While what Steve did was done through his love for the environment and the locality he was elected to represent, it would have been a huge pity if no proper coverage was given.
It is refreshing to see young politicians serving genuine causes for once. Not getting the recognition such acts deserve, would discourage many from taking the necessary steps into politics.
Yesterday’s episode is by no means an isolated event of selective coverage from party-owned media.
Unfortunately, this has become the norm in an environment where political parties and politicians are put on a pedestal, with facts taking the back seat. The discussion that is currently being put forward is an important one. The role that party-owned media have played over the years has vast implications on the nation’s political well-being, which are repeatedly overlooked.
While many opinions on the matter might diverge, there should be a consensus that the media should serve as a watchdog in a democratic society. Having coverage that is blind to one side of a story is dangerous, as it turns journalism into a game of who has the most resources.
Selective coverage is only one of many reasons why the media system in our country needs serious reform. Until then, we can only expect more mediocre politicians who shy away from being held to account, as they will always have a safe harbour in their party station; and less people like Steve Zammit Lupi who fight for the cause they believe in, with no strings attached.
Neil Smart Costantino is a politically active youth and former president of SDM
What do you make of this argument?
Lovin Malta is open to external contributions that are well written and thought-provoking. If you would like your commentary to be featured as a guest post, please write to [email protected] and add Guest Post in the subject line, along with a profile photo to use near your byline. Contributions are subject to editing and do not necessarily represent Lovin Malta’s views.