Sunday, August 28, 2011 by
The 10 absolutes of Reuters journalism on which I have cut my teeth are as follows: always hold accuracy sacrosanct; always correct an error openly; always strive for balance and freedom from bias; always reveal a conflict of interest to a manager; always respect privileged information; always protect sources from the authorities; always guard against putting opinion in a news story; never fabricate or plagiarise; never alter a still or moving image beyond the requirements of normal image enhancement; and never pay for a story and never accept a bribe.
Alas, it is all too obvious, from the judgment of Grievous Censure meted out to Julia Farrugia by the Press Ethics Commission that not all of us adhere to the majority of the afore-mentioned self-censoring praxis.
I find it sad that an otherwise talented, award-winning journalist like Farrugia could stoop so low as to doctor a clip and use a slang word in a headline specifically meant to undermine the public’s perception of a gentleman representing a public entity, and, furthermore, the entity itself vis-a-vis how and by whom it was being administrated.
Just for the record, Farrugia was found guilty under: 1. Art. 4.c: Whenever any information supplied is published without verifying its veracity and accuracy as far as it is possible; under Art. 4.m.: Whenever false or misleading or distorted reports are published; and under Art. 9.: It is prohibited to indulge in any shape or form, in any media in any exercise of the ‘character assassination’ of any person.
The sociopaths who filmed Joseph Mizzi cared not that he could have tripped and broken his neck and he stumbled down the stairs. Farrugia, in possession of such scalding ‘evidence’, might not have paid heed to this, or even thought about the ramifications of throwing the unedited clip to the four winds.
Most would be glad when so-called scoops of this magnitude come by. But the majority would verify the minutiae with at least three independent sources.
Mizzi has been re-instated as chairman of Public Broadcasting Services less than 24 hours after the afore-mentioned judgment hit the airwaves; I still insist his resignation ought only to have been accepted ‘pending investigations’ in the first place.
Many people had forwarded me either the original clip, or the doctored one, with lewd, derogatory, vindictive or just plain rude comments, insisting I must refer to it. Well, I had, but not in the way they expected. Perhaps that is why not one of them sent me a link to the outcome of the case.
But it does not explain why not one of them used their own social network site pages with the same alacrity as they had first time around, and are treating the whole issue as a non-event, perhaps because they do not know the difference between censor, censure… and censer. As the caption in the Ziggy cartoon has it, “we interrupt this reality show because it’s getting too unreal”…
• There is something wrong with the server, or with the equipment, or with both, at Radju Malta. Last Friday, several announcements went out that Vincent Xerri would be replacing Eileen Montesin for the afternoon show. Then, just before it was supposed to begin, the newscaster announced that the station would be off air while maintenance works were carried out.
When it came back, there were several instances of dead air, and then, havoc. Music was played concurrently with Charles Sacco’s recap of the parliamentary committees programme, part of the Rosary recitation was missing, and the ending of Ivan Portanier’s recap of Elvis Presley’s early career days was on air simultaneously with the repeat of Lilian Maistre’s programme, because the computer cut in.
This could have happened because there is no presentation officer physically present in the studios during what used to be the night shift – however, it does not explain the similar confusion since then, especially those of last Wednesday morning. It would be interesting to find out how many people are professionally trained as television presenters.
• The rock-solid fan-base of Deċeduti will be pleased to learn that the series will return to TVM for the final season on October 6; the programme will be aired every Thursday after the news. As a bonus, there will be a grand premiere at the City Theatre in Valletta on October 18, where the first two episodes will be aired back-to-back and fans can meet the actors. Tickets are available from www.ooii.com.mt.
• I received an e-mail about how the eagle mutilates itself to become stronger and live longer. I did not accept it as true; verifying revealed it was not.
A magazine programme presenter said “marmalade” originated in connection with Mary, Queen of Scots. Seeing that this person has several times implied that she uses electronic means of research, this was an appalling lapsus, because the etymology of the word is totally different from what she said it was.
• Another ‘fact’ shot to the ground was that the average age of Vietnam War soldiers was 26. It was ‘19’. The eponymous production 19 by Chris and Maurice Micallef won the Award of Merit for Creativity and Originality, in the Indie Fest competition of the US in August.
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