To The Malta Independent – you SICKEN me!

By | September 8, 2014
This is how CNN do it

This is how CNN do it

The Malta Independent has been doing all it can to get as many pageviews as they can, and why wouldn’t they? Pageviews mean that more people are on your website which means you can get more revenue for your advertising. After all we do live in hard journalistic times.

Whereas other newspapers get their pageviews through breaking news stories and doing investigative journalism, The Malta Independent has been relying on sensationalism to get people on their site. As a person who works in the digital world I understand the need to attract as many people as possible but there are lines that should never be crossed.

Today The Malta Independent crossed that line!

One of their articles treated the very delicate subject of animal cruelty. Instead of going about such a subject in an ethical way they thought it would make more sense to crank up the shock value so that pageviews could come a knocking.

The title is already a sick way of getting people to click.

It started about the kind of cases the animal welfare have to deal with. That is very honourable, and is something which we need more of. People need to know what is happening out there, especially so that if they see it happening they know what to do.

What wasn’t honourable for the newspaper to do is show the pictures of dead, mutilated animals without any warning.

This is not journalism, this is sensationalism. Shock is not how to educate people. The ones who will be shocked will be the ones who are really disturbed and probably do not need to be educated anyway. The rest, if they weren’t shocked, than your article is beyond reaching them isn’t it?

Those are my qualms about distributing those kind of pictures. However, if there was the need to distribute them, and this can be an editorial choice, they should have come with a warning and not simply use them to pepper an article. This is how to ethically do journalism. You would think that a newspaper which has been in circulation for the past 20 years would know that.

What is even sicker is that they were very quick to also change the cover photo on their Facebook page to one of the photos procured!

Finally, I am also aware that writing this will probably send more people to go have a look but if you are reading this and you believe that what The Malta Independent is doing is wrong then please send an email to Mr Stephen Calleja who is the Editor of The Malta Independent Online – If like me you’re super pissed off you can go above Mr Calleja and contact Mr Noel Grima who is the consulting editor –

Tell him how this is not doing those poor animals any favours. Tell him that if the newspaper really cared about this subject they would have treated this article in a very different manner. Alternatively you can also tell The Malta Independent what a sick bunch of assholes they are for trying to get pageviews through showing animal cruelty.

Congrats Malta Independent, you truly sicken me!

  • Marie Benoit

    Stephen Calleja is on leave for the time being so he was not responsible for this.

    • melahart

      Hi Marie, thanks for replying. Stephen Calleja might be on leave and not responsible for this article but he is responsible for the direction of online news. He is the editor.

      Secondly, my disappointment is directed towards The Malta Independent as a media company. This is not just an article, but also now their Facebook cover photo. They are exploiting pictures of animal cruelty and that is wrong.

      The article needs to either come down or properly published.

      Also whoever is responsible for that Facebook cover photo should be given a stern warning.

      • Marie Benoit

        I appreciate your concern completely. I have no idea who uploads the articles when Stephen is away. I complained that my diary was not uploaded and that is how I know that he away. You may wish to complain to the director responsible for Content Pierre Portelli: You may not get a response right away as he is probably on leave too. I came into your blog for the first time today. Will try to follow it. I emailed your article to Stephen so he will see it when he returns on the 12th I think. Best of luck.

      • melahart

        Thanks Marie for the information, I really appreciate it!

      • Marie Benoit

        Of course news editor is Rachel Attard… you may wish to contact her as well! I suppose her email would be rattard etc. I have just seen the photos… they are awful. What animals… but then look at what they are doing to human beings in Syria, Iraq and so on… It is all so horrifying… words fail me…..

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  • Pierre Portelli

    Dear Blogger, Whilst thanking you for drawing our attention on this matter we would like to assure you that while Editors (or Directors like myself) are on leave the editorial team continues to update the news portal on the general guidelines set within our newsroom. We appreciate your liberty to post as you please on your blog but we do not agree with your assessment of The Malta Independent. Over the years our newspapers have uncovered many stories of sickening human behaviour towards animals and we assure you that we do it out of respect towards our readers who continue to grow in numbers. The journalists covering that shocking story were so enraged at the facts they uncovered. They felt that readers have the right to know the brutality of some people around us. Nonetheless, we apologise if our story offended some. It is clear, from your graphic remarks, that tagging the story headline as ‘SHOCKING’ is not enough a warning. We will take your suggestion and forewarn readers of any shocking imagery in future stories in a more explicit manner. What’s for sure is that we both stand united against animal cruelty and do our best to shame and name the perpetrators.
    Pierre Portelli, Director for Content & Business

    • melahart

      Dear Mr. Portelli,

      Thank you for your reply. Whilst I agree that perpetrators of animal and other cruelty should be named and shamed, the publication of such sickening photographs without sufficient warning was in itself brutal and offensive.

      I have nothing but respect for The Malta Independent and perhaps that is why I was so shaken by the way this news story was exploited. I am however pleased that you have learnt from this and will in the future forewarn your readers of any shocking imagery in your stories.

      Kind regards,
      Mel Hart
      Blogger (amongst other things)