A week is a long time in politics, they say. But it’s more like thirty years if you’re talking about Malta. Because this week has seen some thirty years of dirty laundry (including juicy bits that leave Sex & the City seeming bland) washed in public by Malta’s very own A-list blogger, political and social pundit, commentator and doyenne of the media columns – Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Who? Say the name ‘Daphne’ to anyone who’s been more than a few months in Malta, and they will not be thinking of a middle-aged mother of three grown-up sons, but of a razor sharp pen, no-holes-barred approach to writing about anyone and anything, and a publish-and-be-damned approach to the media. Daphne this week became the ‘Daily Daphne’ and I would hazard a guess that the majority of Malta’s 400,000 population was reading her next installment. Daphne grew up writing print columns, but what we’re all reading is her blog. That’s where her power base now lies.
Malta’s past has seen institutional powers try to censor and even close down print media; the last few days has seen the powers that be get to grips with the blog. We’re all waiting to see if the daily Daphne will be gagged, switched off, sued or whatever else can shut her off.
So, as the word got around this week, Daphne’s blog was getting more hits than the mainstream media, such as the Times. If you click on the ‘Most viewed’ and ‘Most commented’ section of her blog, you will find out why.
But what’s of real interest is that in Malta, blogging and citizen media are finally coming of age. You could opine that the furore this week is an exception, that Daphne is simply a trusted, trained journalist who has managed to migrate her skills sets and social capital seamlessly to new media; but you cannot fail to notice that something is changing as far as media production and power systems in Malta are concerned. That while only a couple of years ago, you had to rely on a letter to be printed in a newspaper for you to have ‘a voice’, you can now set up your Web 2.0 stall somewhere and become a media producer in a matter of a few minutes. As long as you have something to say, even in a micro-market like Malta, you have a chance to connect and engage with people who would not necessarily be buying a newspaper. And perhaps more importantly, to say things that the mainstream, for various reasons – including concerns about libel – would simply not support.
It’s been the week when the term ‘global village’ really resonated in Malta.