Tanja Cilia

Freelance Writer

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Sunday, January 22, 2012 by

Tanja Cilia

Some electronic mail, despite being occasionally edifying and didactic, is the modern version of chain letters of yore.

The number of times ‘right of reply’ comes up doubles each week as the general elec­tion draws closer
– Tanja Cilia

How often do we check a myth-busting site before we click ‘send’? Judging by the ‘weird news’ parroted on certain television and radio stations, not all media personalities bother with the nicety.

The latest person to fall for the pass-it-on ruse did so with the best of intentions – to tell us we ought never to give up. The story in question was the one about how the eagle tears out its own feathers, and breaks its talons and beak to revitalise itself.

Even a cursory knowledge of biology or logic would brand this story as bunkum. A search in specialist sources would confirm this.

This is yet another symptom of the lack of care that exists behind the scenes. It is not enough to broadcast yourself.

Take the cruise liner tragedy, for instance. I lost count of how many sections of the press described the incident as ‘iġġarraf cruise liner’. ‘Inkalja’ is the verb used for seacraft – the former is for aircraft.

The problem with technology is that some people use it as a crutch and an excuse, rather than as a reason and an aid.

For instance, it has become a habit to read news and other information (including sports results) directly off the screen, rather than from a print-out. This means that whenever a system is down, the presenter in question has to babble an excuse and abort the presentation, mainly because he would not even know what he would have been talking about.

Rape and near-rape are not exactly early afternoon topics – and yet, since there is apparently no watershed for radio, they may be an integral part of a read novel, and no one bats an eyelid. The same may be said of the lyrics of certain songs.

There is the one with lyrics about how a man rants against the woman who has cuckolded his friend to be with him. Conveniently forgetting that it takes two to tango, he now he laments the break-up of his relationship with a ‘good woman’ who did not deserve his bad behaviour. And this is not a country song – it’s in Italian.

This song was recently played during a breakfast show – and the irony of it all was that a few minutes later, the guest in the same show was deriding people who do not know that the title of a song sometimes has nothing to do with the words in it (“They asked me to sing ‘Someone Like You’ at a wedding…”).

This is on the same lines as dedicating L’Anni­versario to a wife or husband, rather than to a partner.

• Andrew Azzopardi recently selected Carlo Borg Bonaci as one of the “memorable voices” of broadcasting.

The latter has now taken over the management of Magic Malta 91.7 and will be going live with a daily breakfast show as of tomorrow, from 6.30 till 9.30 a.m.

The station’s new slogan is ‘Just good music’. We are assured that this will do away with the erstwhile endless loop once and for all.

There will be short news updates in Maltese as well as from the BBC. A live Drive Time show will start in February.

Borg Bonaci says there will be “a carefully selected playlist. The station will also be inaugurating its new state-of-the-art studios and a brand new jingles package. We’re also working on a Facebook wall, a website, a media campaign, and more. Stay tuned.”

• Malta is another of the countries where the number of times ‘right of reply’ comes up in a search engine practically doubles each week as the general election draws closer.

Make no mistake about it – these are also the times when the PR departments of different groups beg, steal, or borrow snail mail or e-addresses, invade our privacy, and deluge us with propaganda.

This time, it’s the PN demanding a right of reply for criticism made by Franco Debono in last Tuesday’s Bondiplus. I cannot understand the logic behind this; you either say a person is talking through his hat, or you discern enough sense in it to warrant making a complaint. On the other hand, everyone – even if the word is stretched to mean ‘entity’ – has a right to protect a reputation.

It is amusing – and pathetic – to see both the Nationalist and Labour parties accuse the Broadcasting Authority of siding with the other side, after each decision the BA takes.

This line of reasoning also brands the public broadcaster as being pro-Labour and pro-Nationalist… simultaneously. This when the said body is constituted in such a way as to preclude such a stance by either major political party. Something, somewhere, is out of kilter.

The crux of the matter is not (just) that Labour leader Joseph Muscat got his 15 minutes (more) of fame on Xarabank, and the PN got ‘just’ 10 minutes on Bondiplus. It’s all part of the victimisation game, which includes the terms ‘autonomy’, ‘bias’, ‘regression’, ‘switching off of microphones’, ‘independence’, ‘discrimination’, ‘nepotism’, ‘freedom of speech’, and more of their ilk.

The PBS and the PN have an ace up their sleeve; the can hark back to the dark ages of local broadcast history – and immediately the Labour Party produces its own trump card, which is actually a list of all the people who are, or who have been, in the employ of the Nationalist Party, and who are now ensconced within the ranks of the PBS employee list.

• The Institute of Maltese Journalists is receiving nominations for the Gold Award 2012. To be eligible, one has to be a “Maltese resident” (sic) with “a long career and vast experience in journalism and whose contribution goes beyond the requisites of normal professional practice (or) an association, organisation, institution or a group that gave an outstanding contribution for the development of journalism”.


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Tanja Cilia

Freelance Writer

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