09 APRIL 2003

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Media objects en masse to Alfred Sant’s hostility to press

The Malta Financial and Business Times has joined no less than 75 journalists, editors, columnists and media commentators from across Malta in condemning Opposition Leader Alfred Sant’s increasing hostility toward the media.
A statement, signed en masse by members of media organisations not aligned with the Labour Party was presented to Labour Party Secretary General Jimmy Magro yesterday.
The statement reads, "We are concerned at the increasingly hostile attitude being demonstrated by Labour leader Alfred Sant towards journalists and commentators who work for media not owned by the Labour Party or the General Workers Union.
"We feel that this hostility indicates an insufficient understanding on his part of the role of the free press, and the reality of freedom of speech, in a democratic country. We remind Dr Sant that he is in control of a powerful political party with the backing of half the electorate, and that he has a considerable media stable of his own, including a television station, radio and newspaper.
"We remind him, too, that journalists and commentators have a duty to ask questions and to challenge the opinions and policies of political leaders. This should not expose them to personal attacks, retribution, or boycotts. We express our solidarity with, and support for, those journalists and commentators who have been subjected to such disparaging treatment."
The signatories include the editors of The Times, The Sunday Times, The Malta Independent, The Malta Independent on Sunday, The Malta Business Weekly, The Malta Business & Financial Times, MaltaToday, Il-Gens, Il-Mument, and In-Nazzjon. They also include the Head of News of RTK radio and the Head of Programmes of NET television. Other signatories are media expert and commentator Fr Joe Borg, The Times consulting editor Victor Aquilina, The Malta Independent political editor Fr Noel Grima, Lou Bondi and Peppi Azzopardi of Where’s Everybody, and columnists Andrew Borg Cardona, Ranier Fsadni, Daphne Caruana Galizia, Simone Zammit Endrich and Marisa Micallef Leyson. They also include popular cartoonist Maurice Tanti Burlo and Ivan Bartolo, the editor of the Xarabank newspaper, who was censured by the Labour Party for his editorial role.
A copy of the statement has been sent to the Malta Press Club, which has so far failed to take a stand on the matter. The signatories also expressed their belief that Dr Sant’s granting of a one-hour interview to Lou Bondi on Super One television should not distract the public from his on-going refusal to take questions from the media in the manner that would normally be expected of the leader of a political party.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, 2 Cali House, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 02, Malta
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