A far cry from the newsroom

The one thing that motivates people is money in their pockets and when that dries up they start to cry wolf about everything else they can think about

When editors sit down and figure out what will be the themes for 2024, they tend to focus on politics. People in the media, after all, are caught up in a tsunami of news emanating from the political parties, government, their detractors and their communication directors. 

But sometimes those of us immersed in this news deluge from politicians tend to forget that most common folk are unconcerned with politics. I have yet to meet one individual in the last six months who praised a single politician. It is a great pity.  

So, the question is what really concerns people? The reality is that most people are generally the complete opposite of the altruists and philanthropists we collectively believe. It is not a Maltese trait to be altruist… it is simply a human one. Most people are only motivated with what they can gain and nothing else. And in most cases, they get started upon some issue when it concerns them or has a direct impact on them. 

There are exceptions to the rule surely, but even when it comes to environmental issues, the motivation is purely powered by NIMBY (Not in my backyard) syndrome. 

The one thing that motivates people is money in their pockets and when that dries up they start to cry wolf about everything else they can think about. 

And the only explanation for the high tolerance to what is happening around us is partly due to the fact that we are living rather comfortably for now, still making ends meet and not in a dire state. 

So, what is a priority for the Maltese today? What is of concern?  

Meet young people, and it is all about having fun and making money. Being free, being able to travel, and not making commitments.   

Meet families, and their main concern is seeing their children get the best education and have enough revenue to keep up with the Joneses and in some cases with the Kardashians. Indeed, a cursory look at the luxury cars, expensive bags and botox all around recounts a different narrative to the one we imagine in our newsrooms. 

Going up in age, the concerns change. Here people are more nostalgic, more prone to complaining about change whether it is landscape or even the cost of living. And health becomes a big issue. 

At my age, you walk into a drinks party and everyone is talking of high blood pressure and cholesterol and about spending two weeks not drinking alcohol.  

I mix with different groups, and the subject is now invariably the same everywhere. In Fawlty Towers it was ‘Do not mention the war,’ now here in Malta it is ‘Do not mention politics or politicians.’  There is a sense of déjà vu; anything goes and nothing will change. 

Which is why so many people choose not to read, or to engage and only talk of their next trip abroad. 

I am in awe at the destinations people seek and visit. 

If people have lost hope that things will not change, they want to show it by not contesting anything. They have chosen to be part of that ever growing following of non-voters. 

If there is a business which is struggling it is not the politicians who will still get elected and jump on the Brussels gravy train, but us the media who are increasingly losing relevance. 

Which is why we need to change our song and our station. We need to sensitise our audience and make them listen to what we have to say. 

Poets and authors and artists tend to accept that their audiences are small, refined, intelligent and curious.   

Here in the media we still believe we have large audiences following us and continue to plod on irrespective of the changing world. 

2024 will be a year of reckoning, not only for some politicians but also for the Maltese. I have a feeling that with a tougher economic climate, they will start to open up to other issues. Making them more sensitive to the real world. 

It is a cycle that tends to repeat itself over and over again... only time will tell whether the media will manage to capture this sentiment and be able to partially set the agenda of the nation and the drinks parties. 

A Happy New Year to all!