MaltaToday takes prestigious investigative and human story IGM press awards

Young journalists Karl Azzopardi and David Hudson clinch awards for their sterling work on French secret agents and the negative effects of social media

Karl Azzopardi (left) and David Hudson
Karl Azzopardi (left) and David Hudson

MaltaToday rang out the 2019 edition of the Institute of Maltese Journalists’ press awards with first prize for two of the most coveted categories: print investigative journalism and human stories.

David Hudson and Karl Azzopardi, MaltaToday’s most recent additions to its staff of its experienced journalists, clinched the two awards respectively.

David Hudson revealed that Malta was being used by French secret service agents from the DGSE as a base from where to run weapons-tracking missions.

The crash of the Fairchild Merlin
The crash of the Fairchild Merlin
The debris from the 2016 crash
The debris from the 2016 crash
What looks like an innocuous abode in the outskirts of Birkirkara, surrounded by ordinary confectionaries, secondary schools and a small football pitch, was the location of an extraordinary secret service operation involving hawk-eye footage and military-grade weapons before the operation was cut short by a tragic plane crash
What looks like an innocuous abode in the outskirts of Birkirkara, surrounded by ordinary confectionaries, secondary schools and a small football pitch, was the location of an extraordinary secret service operation involving hawk-eye footage and military-grade weapons before the operation was cut short by a tragic plane crash

The story surfaced only two years after the crash of a Fairchild Merlin aircraft just after take-off, with official Maltese government mouthpieces refusing to confirm the exact identity of the dead men.

Hudson revealed how French spies were operating from inside an ordinary Maltese house, to monitor the delivery of weapons to Libya.

“This was an important story for it publicised the names of these secret agents for the first time in Malta, and revealed how the island was teeming with secret agents and military attachés with their eyes on Libya,” executive editor Matthew Vella said.

Also nominated for the print investigative category was Karl Azzopardi, who however won the human stories category with one of MaltaToday’s most read stories of 2018.

‘Facebook warriors turn guns on wrong man’ was a simple yet powerful report on how the Facebook frenzy over the PC Simon Schembri hit-and-run turned social media users into judge, jury and executioners of a Liam Debono namesake.

“People read the first two sentences of a newspaper report and suddenly start coming to conclusions about the case, without being properly informed.” Liam Debono, top, was wrongly identified on social media as the hit-and-run culprit
“People read the first two sentences of a newspaper report and suddenly start coming to conclusions about the case, without being properly informed.” Liam Debono, top, was wrongly identified on social media as the hit-and-run culprit

“This was an account of how the power of social media can condition our lives at the drop of the hat, turning us into villains for lack of context or understanding. We were positively surprised by the attention this story commanded, and it goes to show that good journalism is not necessarily about scandal and intrigue, but about reporting on people’s lives as well,” Matthew Vella said.

“Needless to say, we are proud that Karl Azzopardi and David Hudson have represented MaltaToday with their work at the IGM awards: our newspaper takes pride in its strong team spirit and an editorial tone which is the fruit of long discussions and shared values.

“Both journalists’ work display just some of the essential qualities we look out for in people: curiosity and an interest in people’s lives, with a generous dose of grey matter of course,” Vella said.

MaltaToday is published by Mediatoday Co. Ltd and is run by managing editor Saviour Balzan. Vella is executive editor and Kurt Sansone is online editor.

More in National