Wednesday 21 March 2018


The power to shock

As we head towards the final stretch of this campaign which has felt like years rather than weeks, the media have a crucial role to play to ensure that the volatile atmosphere in these last few days doesn’t escalate and that they report incidents faithfully.

And these days, by media we have to include the Internet and, by extension, anyone with a Facebook account.

This morning Television Malta’s website and Facebook page carried a story about a letter threatening certain presenters that if Labour wins the election, they will be kicked out. A letter to be condemned, that goes without saying, because no one has the right to say such a thing.

However TVM chose to use a stock photo of several letters fanned out on a table to illustrate the story.   The message? That the station had received a deluge of threatening letters. Most people of course, took one look at the photo and the headline and clicked “share” without reading it, so the damage was done. Within an hour the story had gone viral with everyone expressing shock, naturally, at the idea that presenters were being threatened by what seemed like a considerable number of people. However, despite my drawing their attention to the dishonest, misleading photo, TVM has not yet removed it, but simply stated in a comment under the story on FB as an afterthought,  “Please note that the photo is not meant to represent the real letter.”  I have my doubts as to how many people saw this disclaimer.

This is unacceptable behaviour from the national station, and if it wishes to be taken seriously when it defends itself against accusations of bias, then this episode has not helped one bit.   (There are other questions to be asked of course, such as why not show the actual letter, and was the letter passed on to the police for it to be traced?).

There have been other instances this week, which have crossed the line and can only be described as incitement.  The photo below was being shared on FB yesterday with words to the effect that Labour supporters were responsible after Sunday’s mass meeting.

black eye

In fact, thanks to some sharp-eyed Internet savvy people, it was established that the photo comes from this website about special effects make-up.  Once again, however, those who did not realise that it was a fake photo were appropriately appalled, especially as a real incident had in fact happened on Sunday. But even in that story, the media gave different versions with Maltarightnow reporting that the woman was going to lose her eye while the Times of Malta online said she was slightly injured. This is not to diminish the seriousness of the attack, because violence is never acceptable, but it is also unacceptable and unethical to inflate incidents such as this.

Finally, there was the story going round that an effigy of the Prime Minister was “hanged” during the mass meeting, and this also turned out to be untrue. The effigy (on closer inspection as can be seen below ) was a silly puppet in the form of Tonio Fenech  with the arms of a clock on his chest and his legs swinging like a pendulum.


Silly, and yet the image with the false information spread all over the Internet accompanied by gasps of outrage.

These attempts to incite anger and hatred with these fake scaremongering stories are not only deceitful, it also makes me wonder whether there are those who are itching for some really juicy violence to break out in order to prove some twisted point.

It also makes me wonder: if the PN is really the party with the best policies for the country, then why would anyone feel the need to resort to such despicable tactics so that the party wins more votes?




  • Christian

    its clear that since you are interested more into creating a story then trying to find out one that story that gonzi was hang was only in your imagination the sentence was gonzi hanged during the meeting ? typical labour . so that wasnt a statement it was just a question so dont be so fussy and regarding the pic of teh timeofmalta kull meta ikun em acciedent dejjem istess karozza ta pulizija bhala pic ma nafx alfejn qed tistageb ax kien em pic ta evelops.

    • I would reply to this but i honestly cannot understand your comment.

  • Edward

    These images and stories do not incite anger and hatred. They merely report the event. A photo is a photo, people can read the article and see the facts for themselves. Again, not inciting hatred, just reporting the story.

    You say that the newspapers are unethical? People can read you know. We don’t just look at pictures. We can read the stories of a woman being attacked by PL supporters in different newspapers. We can even hear the recording of her telling reporters what happened. We can all decide for ourselves.

    Inciting hatred is telling people to hate a group of people. You know, like Mintoff used to do. Like people in the PL did last election when they spoke about DNA and not being part of the same family.

    I find you article disingenuous and amateur.

    No one who supports the values of democracy would ever give those cowards another chance to be in government. It’s nothing to do with being narrow minded. It’s to do with have principles and standing by them. You cannot have democratic values and support the PL at the same time. There is no way you can reconcile the two.

  • Marisa

    another biased person is the first to answer obviously justifying the wrongdoings of PBS, no shame at all unbeleivable

  • j.t. collins

    christian, you need some english lessons…spelling, grammar and some punctuation too if possible. oh, and some maltese spelling too.
    josanne, the politicians know that most of the voters have an iq lower than a tse-tse fly’s and would believe anything they throw at them.

  • David

    this is an article simply just to throw accusations to the mlp when they as a party clearly cannot handle every aspect of what goes on on the streets…. so stop trying to to make the mlp look like a party from the 60’s if they are in the goverment because these incidents will continue to happen every election and everyday!!! all you’re trying to do is make every labour supporter look like we’re savage animals when clearly you cannot judge every person because maybe a group of people act that way in there everyday life, which i do not agree with to make things clear!!! i can assure you if you take a good look at some die-hard nationalist supporters you will incidents of this nature too, but you are clearly on some agenda to make the MLp look like some savage party when if you have some common sense you know certain things can’t be handled, if not by the police!!! thanks

    • This is a new one… according to some I’m ” typical labour”

  • David Bezzina

    I think it is becoming evident that the PN is getting very desperate in its vote-catching tactics.Tactics which might have worked a decade ago but not today.Violent elements exist within both the big parties.An objective view of our political history indicates so.
    So Edward,because I am a Labourite,it does not mean I am some kind of uneducated savage.The PL apologized for what happened in the 80’s and today we see a party open to everyone and not to some chosen few.
    Unlike you,I am perfectly comfortable having sound democratic values and supporting the Labour Party at the same time.
    Unfortunately,it is the PN that has become the exact opposite of what it stood for in the 80’s.

  • Joanne,
    i long for the day when the standard journalist in Malta will learn the meaning of the word and the trade… I also long for the day when the standard citizen will read an article / post / photo caption critically and question before believing it… and following that, that they will then comment critically and with sense to articles and posts, rather than with blatant bias and thick ignorance, based on their assumptions of bias in the article or rapporteur.

    I am also happy to see that there are a few journalists who actually report critically, and who point out such fallacies in the news, also in order to alert those who may not have the time to delve into investigative journalism (about journalists’ posts).

    It would be far more productive as well as progressive (!!) if people stopped associating everything with politics, and instead started to think, before they threw up ignorance and accusations…

  • Josanne, I happened to be sat next to the ‘injured’ woman last Sunday at the A & E Department at Mater Dei…she looked nowhere near anything in that picture. Actually, both she and a couple of relatives of hers were full of vim and vigour spouting obscenities, reviling all Labourites, both dead and alive! So yes Edward, posting a picture off the internet which does not depict the real situation, is at best only fanning the flames on an already volatile scenario…and the last rant I heard before thankfully managing to escape inside was “Ghada nkun fuq l-inews!”…Fifteen minutes of fame, anyone? Btw I tried to post a couple of comments re the above on the TOM which were never uploaded…now I wonder why? To its credit the TOM did say it will investigate when contacted…I’m still waiting…

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