[WATCH] Government’s rejection of information requests a mockery of journalists, PN says

The Nationalist Party stressed that more needed to be done to ensure that Malta created the right environment for journalists to do their job

The fact that roughly one half of requests for information made under the Freedom of Information Act are rejected was a “mockery of the respect government should show journalists”, MEP candidate Roselyn Borg Knight said on Wednesday.

Addressing a press conference together with fellow candidates Francis Zammit Dimech and Dione Borg, Borg Knight said the law had been introduced years ago in order to strengthen democracy by allowing journalists to have access to documentation and information which they could verify themselves.

She urged authorities to create a “media friendly environment” which allowed journalists access to all the information necessary for them to do their job.  

Dione Borg emphasised that no society can function without a free and independent media. The, PN, he said supported citizens right to be properly informed.

“Over the past years, journalism has been facing big challenges. Challenges related to sustainability and challenges stemming from the fact that fewer students are looking at journalism as a potential career,” Borg said, notng that a career in journalism required a great deal of dedication.

Turning to print journalism, Borg said it was crucial to save the medium, arguing that in addition to its journalistic value, it was also essential for maintaining the public record.  He said it was time for authorities to help newspapers.

Borg also spoke of threats towards journalists which have been increasing in recent years and which had led the country to a point where a journalist was murdered.

Zammit Dimech said that over the last two years he had worked on European legislation intended to protect whistleblowers, insisting however that such protections should be extended to journalists.

Journalists, he said, were tasked with informing the nation on matters that were of importance to them.

He said that the European Parliament was also working on ways of combatting fake news, which he said had the power to derail the democratic process by causing people to take decisions on the basis of incorrect information.

Zammit Dimech said that the European People’s Party was proposing an independent fact-checking system that is able to promote a manner in which facts can be verified.

He said more investment was required in “quality journalism” was required, especially when considering the challenges brought on by social media.

More in Europe 2019