Throughout this month, following the announcement of the formation of the self-styled Association of Media Owners, I wrote two columns in which I explained this website’s take on the fact that the companies which back the biggest independent news outlets in the country – Allied Newspapers Ltd (Times of Malta), Standard Publications (The Malta Independent), and MediaToday (MaltaToday) – formed an association that is partially made up of propaganda outlets owned by the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party. You can read the first column here, and the second one here.
In the second column I penned about this subject, I publicly announced that I would be sending questions to all three newsrooms to assess their position. This morning, Times of Malta editor-in-chief Herman Grech sent me his answers to my questions. At his request, I am reproducing both the questions and the responses that were sent in full. Questions are marked in bold.
Given that MaltaToday and the Malta Independent have not yet acknowledged my questions, I will wait until next Friday (which is the deadline I’ve set for answers) to share my perspective on what I make of these responses.
1) Can you confirm whether editorial and the journalists who form part of your newsroom were consulted about the respective company’s decision to join the Association of Media Owners before the decision was made?
No, there was no consultation.
2) Who is your company’s representative on the association’s executive branch and what role do they occupy? How was your representative selected?
You may forward questions to management. Editorial has no say or role in the association.
3) What is your newsroom’s stance on the fact that you are now associated directly with political party propaganda outlets?
Times of Malta’s newsroom has always operated independently from its commercial arm. And will continue doing so. Allied Newspapers made it clear in a statement that editorial is free to scrutinise the operations of the new association, as is the case with all other local entities. Our editorial arm does not and will not have any ‘direct association’ with political party propaganda outlets.
4) For a media company to be able to join your association, it must have at least seven full-time journalists and at least three media workers. What was the reason for this specific criterion?
No idea. Please refer the questions to the association.
5) If and when your association manages to secure funding from the government, will your newsroom declare how much funding it has received and for what purpose it will be used? If so, how does your newsroom plan on doing so?
Editorial has already asked management to communicate with it should any funding be received through the association, so that our readers can be informed of any such funding.