Tanja Cilia

Freelance Writer

Stars and Strips

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Sunday, December 25, 2011 by

Tanja Cilia

Christmas time, as Sir Cliff Richard reminds us, is “a time to rejoice in the good that we see”. Alas this is sometimes misinterpreted – for what we consider good enough to exult in is mediocre – or worse, the ‘bad’ that happens to others – schaden­­freude with Christmas bells on, as it were.

Character assassination sins directly against the Fifth Commandment
– Tanja Cilia

Take the recent cases where different bodies censured two different journalists for more or less the same reason – character assassination. About the only good that has come of that was that there is more awareness – albeit not in all quarters – about the different meanings of the words censor, censure and censer.

Apart from that, I would not hesitate to learn that not much has been learnt from what Julia Farrugia and Lou Bondi did and said, whether or not, in their heart of hearts, they believe it is the unvarnished truth.

We can go all holier than thou and say character assassination sins directly against the Fifth Commandment, but this is not the point. Worse crimes have been committed under the guise of freedom of speech.

Some would not have hesitated to emulate them, had they been in their shoes, with their attitude as to what constitutes fair play, but others know where to draw the line between a job well done, and arrogance; between playing to the gallery, and outright viciousness; a desire to transmit the truth, and back-biting.

It is interesting to note, however, that some people, who are ready to spout venom about public personalities in private conversations, will treat current events as not existing when it comes to official functions – and their social platforms.

“The old is past, there’s a new beginning.” Alas, this doesn’t always happen. Attitudes sometimes take over where ‘esprit de corps’ and ‘do as you would be done by’ stop.

• I expected PBS, umbrella company for the stations of the nation, to give viewers/listeners a Christmas gift.

Not a pizza for one, or a month’s worth of Arriva tickets, or a pair of shoes from a shop that doesn’t cater for women with large feet, offered by a nasal voice… but a new, improv­ed website (not ‘managed by C Foris’) just in time for Christmas.

Another golden opportunity has been missed. As it is, different presenters tell us we may get their programmes ‘from certain websites’ either streamed or on demand.

This is not good enough. Not all programmes are available on demand, and anyway, it is logical for people to expect to follow programmes from the site of the station on which they appear or are heard.

Other stations can manage this, so why not PBS? It is not enough to get a new and improved logo; to change programmes’ signature tunes; the re-shuffle time-honoured esoteric programmes, and to try for uniformity by having the same voice introduce most or all the radio programmes.

All this will change once the tenders are opened and reviewed. Till then, we will be met with Sezzjonijiet tas-sit, fosthom l-Aħbarijiet, għad­hom taħt kostruzzjoni (Sections of the site, including the News Division, are still under construction).

• Aeons ago I went to a reception of (then Minister) Alex Sciberras Trigona. All I got from it was a hefty push in the small of my back by one of the minister’s ‘minders’ , who, according to the bodyguard, merited a “clear path” to make his way to the podium.

Like all other ministers before and since, he must not be held responsible for the actions of his minions. But this is a clear indication of how some lesser mortals appear to interpret the wishes of their masters.

All that is water under the bridge – but I was reminded of this incident when Lou Bondi informed us of the context in which Sciberras Trigona used the word ħmieġ; a word that was bandied about again in Chris Scicluna and Maria Muscat’s programme L -Istampa Kollha (Radju Malta, Sunday morning).

I know for a fact that Scicluna and Muscat are conscientious journalists who do their homework. Listening to others (and not only on political stations – not that this excuses anyone) I find that this is a rare combination, apparently, these days.

I was therefore surprised to hear the way the interview degenerated practically into an adult version of schoolyard squabbling. The rot set in when Scicluna asked Sciberras Trigona for his “feelings” at the downfall of Colonel Gaddafi, at which point the ex-minister let rip.

He had, he said, striven to carry out his job of Foreign Minister and/or International Secretary in the interests of the country. He never had a personal relationship with the Libyan leader. Apart from that, the Nationalist Party had been in the throes of a slanderous and sordid campaign, the intent of which was, again, character assassination.

• In direct contrast to the above, I award the Guest of the Week Medal to Michael Valletta. This full-of-beans seven-year-old was the guest of Maria Pia Gauci, who presents Solidarjetà on Radju Malta (Monday evenings). The young and very voluble Michael donates a lot of his time to doing voluntary work, and he comes into his own during Christmas time, since making and decorating grottos is one of his hobbies.

television@timesofmalta.com

 

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Tanja Cilia

Freelance Writer

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