A thorn in the side

This week Daphne Caruana Galizia was nominated by Politico, a highly respected news source in the EU as one of the 28 most influential women in Europe, citing her as ‘The best way to think of Daphne Caruana Galizia is as a one-woman WikiLeaks, crusading against untransparency and corruption in Malta, an island nation famous for both,” said Matthew Kaminski, Politico’s European executive editor. This was not an inconsiderable achievement.

Now before I go on I must make it clear, I am not particularly a fan of the lady concerned. I find her style a little bit too abrasive and her judgement tainted just a tad too much by political and emotional bias. It has to be admitted, however, that her courage, tenacity and willingness to take on the might of the government are admirable.

There will be many detractors who will pooh pooh the nomination saying that she has a chip on her shoulder and will do anything to denigrate the current government. That may be so, however, thanks to her the scandal of the Panama affair and many other dodgy dealings by this administration have come to light. No matter what your political affiliation, no matter where your allegiance lies, you will have to admit that checks and balances are not a bad thing.

Daphne is a blogger and a journalist writing for an independent newspaper. The newspaper has its own philosophy and opinion. That is as it should be and is the way of the world in any thriving democracy. It is not, however, unlike half the printed and television news available to the Maltese public, tied directly or indirectly to one political party or another. It analyses, judges and offers differing views, it gives a platform for different political opinions, and it does not insult their intelligence of the general population and assume they are unable to form an opinion for themselves.

The Independent is not the only platform offering this service. There is the Times, the Malta Today, several online sites, and a couple of (very small) TV channels. They give a service to us, the general public, which is far more valuable than the price we pay (if any) to read or listen to them. They offer us the ability not to be brain washed. They hold the people in power, both in government and in big business, accountable for their actions and often they are the reason why people are brought to account for wrong doings.

Without them, our democracy would be weaker, Malta would be a far more unpleasant place to live in and we the poorer both financially and morally. Politicians and businessmen are sensitive to public opinion and can be swayed by it. It is independent journalism that often exposes them and makes us aware of what is going on.

Daphne Caruana Galizia’s nomination can be taken as a personal achievement. I would rather think of it as an acknowledgement of our independent press. We need them, they are one of the most important pillars of our society. Without them Malta would be a far darker, corrupt and less free society than it is. They do a hard and often thankless job. In my opinion they are the unsung heroes of our democracy. We give the highest accolade of our land Gieh ir-repubblika to so many. They, collectively, deserve it most.

She may be difficult, she may be antagonistic but I would rather have 100 Daphnes than a L-orrizzont, In-Nazzjon Taghna, One News, Net News and, unfortunately TVM news. She is a thorn in the side of some, but pain is a good thing, it can warn of disease and lead to a cure. To independent journalism… long may you thrive.