There is an unwritten rule in the UK media: that one media organisation does not gratuitously attack another. This has merit for two reasons: one, attacks of this nature tend to be an irresponsible way of using a medium, when it is responsibility that separates good from bad journalists; two, the public are not really interested in the people involved in media organisations but rather in what they produce.

The building that houses this newspaper and its sister was once burnt down, so insults and name-calling are water off a duck’s back to everyone who occupies it. We are also used to lies being propagated about us. Last Sunday, Maltatoday, not for the first time, printed such a lie – saying this organisation had sacked a journalist “for Facebook comment”.

While we have avoided going into why a journalist departed from our organisation – mainly to spare a good youngster embarking on life in the working world unwelcome publicity – it was not merely for posting a comment on Facebook. Had Maltatoday contacted someone at the newspaper, it might have found that out. But the truth did not suit the story it wanted to portray.

Maltatoday attempts to present itself as an independent newspaper and its managing editor would like people to believe he is an unadulterated bona fide journalist on a quest for truth and justice.

Yet are his actions consistent with his words?

The managing editor served in an unofficial capacity as one of John Dalli’s right-hand men when the former Nationalist minister was contesting the PN leadership with Lawrence Gonzi. How many real journalists would do that?

The managing editor served as a consultant to the government in its EU negotiations and formed part of the Iva Movement. How many real journalists would do that?

The managing editor today employs the legal services of the Labour Party’s deputy leader for party affairs. Given there are so many lawyers to choose from who are far more independent, how many real journalists would do that?

The managing editor personally contacts people (we know who they are) to procure advertising, mixing editorial and commercial roles. And he also chooses, perhaps with good reason, who to target and who to leave alone in his column. How many real journalists would do that?

The managing editor makes business proposals to certain individuals and then, perhaps coincidentally and with good reason, writes about them in his column after they have declined. How many real journalists do that?

The managing editor criticises several people for obtaining money from the government. Yet a single issue of his Sunday newspaper has contained as much as 32 per cent in government advertising. And he had no hesitation accepting an annual handout of €88,000 from the public coffers for a 10-minute daily television programme. When we brought this matter to light, he did not shrink with embarrassment but instead had the gall to ask his lawyer, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, to write to PBS calling for an investigation into how we acquired public information. How many real journalists would do that?

When there was a negative comment about the managing editor on our website, he called a senior person within our organisation to request its removal. Meanwhile, he scaled down his criticism of a well-known woman blogger because she proved to be better at his game than he is. How many real journalists would do that?

The managing editor is aware – as is the entire media industry in Malta – that one of his current journalists fabricates elements of stories. How many real journalists would allow that?

And how about the treatment of employees? When one of Maltatoday’s more delicate staff members applied for a job with another newspaper last year, a respectable figure felt the need to circulate an e-mail stating that the managing editor had threatened not to continue printing Maltatoday at that newspaper’s printing press if this staff member was employed. How many real journalists would do that?

To be elaborated upon and continued?

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