Category Archives: Journalism

Unpublished stories: Archaeologist of corruption assassinated in Malta

Shortly after the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, I had my pitch accepted by the Equal Times, which turned into an article about the murder and DCG’s place in the society. As Malta marks half a year since her death, below I’m posting an edited version of the bits I prepared while doing research on her work last year but ended up not using in my article.

Experiences like [those quoted in the article] show how divided Malta remains under the public displays of unity in protests that rock the country’s capital demanding justice and resignation of the very officials Caruana Galizia used to criticise on her blog. Caruana Galizia had made enemies not only with her poignant writing about politicians, but also her unconcealed contempt for the Maltese working-class subculture. In her columns, she insisted on holding public personalities to standard in taste just as much as in transparency. “I am fed up of living in a society dominated by savagely aspirational hamalli,” she wrote in her blog post about the Prime Minister’s wife’s dress.

The blog, Running Commentary, subject to 42 pending libel suits at the time of the author’s death in a country that criminalises libel, was known to disregard the principle ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ Yet Caruana Galizia made it clear that the concept of ‘proven guilty’ was elusive in the country where magistrates are politically appointed, people without a clean criminal record can still be recruited into the police force, and politicians with offshore companies keep their jobs. The blogger reported receiving threats, but refused police protection.

Switchboard of information

Having chosen archaeology for her university studies, Caruana Galizia could probably sense that she will be known for a different kind of digging. Before graduation, she was already a newspaper columnist. Her career spanned three decades, with her signature style developing in her columns for The Malta Independent. In 2008, she set up a blog, which soon surpassed established media houses in readership. Many Maltese not only turned to her blog for sharp, scathing reporting on the powerful, but also sent her tips on Gmail and WhatsApp whenever they saw the powerful overstepping any boundaries.

Using leaks and social network profiles, she sourced juicy stories and allegations about the lives, friendships and style choices of politicians and their family members, about journalists, and various officials small and big, leading her targets and opponents to withdraw from public life, explain themselves, or try to financially ruin her with lawsuits. The latest World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders places Malta on the 47th position globally, with criminalisation of libel as one of the main concerns, citing an incident when Caruana Galizia’s bank accounts were frozen “at the Economy Minister’s behest”. In the latest narrative report on Malta, Freedom House also points to lengthy legal proceedings.

Writing in a bipartisan country

Caruana Galizia started her career during the last years of the turbulent era of Labour Party’s government (1971-1987) in the two-party state. The Nationalist Party, currently in opposition, returned to office in 1987, but lost to Labour in 1996. The short-lived swing was enough to freeze the archipelago state’s EU bid, which drew much criticism from Caruana Galizia.

When Nationalists came to power for another 15 years and saw Malta become an EU member State, Caruana Galizia’s PR company, Proximus PR, received a governmental contract to consult the government on international outreach. Criticised for partisanship, she firmly believed that the centre-right party had a better record of honour, integrity and good taste. While frequently standing up to human rights, Caruana Galizia worried that these victories will preempt critical analysis of the government’s performance with regard to corruption. In January, she slammed Aditus, a human rights NGO, for extending the formal address, “Dear Prime Minister”, to the man she so despised.

One of her early columns (21/09/1997) proclaims that her anti-Labour views “are a result arrived at by means of rational thought, and not irrational sentiment or misplaced historical loyalty. That is freedom.” In the same column she promised that should the Nationalists take an anti-EU turn, she would withdraw her vote and ‘stay at home’. Her romance with the Nationalist party ended when it elected a new leader this year. Caruana Galizia went on to uncovered his association with members of the underworld, his offshore bank account and alleged dealings with a brothel owner in London. Delia denied holding offshore accounts, although he admitted being involved in the business dealings with the said client.

Being subject to many personal attacks had taken its toll on the relentless writer. Already in 1997, writing for The Malta Independent about government officials’ lavish trips abroad during Labour’s brief return to power, she confessed: “I am tired as hell.” (14/09/1997). “The problem with democracy is that WE can end up getting the government YOU deserve,” she wrote on her blog in 2008.

New beginning – The Lithuania Tribune

I am starting to cooperate with the English version of Delfi, the largest news portal in Lithuania, – The Lithuania Tribune. Here I will paste links to my articles to keep them in one place.

December 2015

All from my reporting trip to Thailand

In March I took part in Minority Rights Group training in Thailand. I posted my feedback on it here. In this post, I’ll post all articles, blog posts and tweets associated with this trip.

Reposted:

All my blog entries on Thailand are listed under this tag. Continue reading

Reporting on minorities in Thailand as EU13 journalist

@daiva_hadiva

With the aim to balance out very unequal distribution of articles about development cooperation between EU15 and EU13, Minority Rights Group took our group of ten to get first-hand experience reporting in Southeast Asia. What we learned, however, had to do more with our journalistic methods than with EU development aid and cooperation.

February marked the tenth year since I started working as a foreign desk journalist at a small but prominent Lithuanian newspaper (which no longer exists). During those years as a staff writer and later as a freelancer I entirely depended, like many colleagues from our region, on other organisations to fund any reporting missions abroad, or used personal travels for reporting. There was a time when Lithuanian media did not even have a permanent correspondent in Brussels. Already low budgets for reporting in Central and Eastern Europe have been further cropped since the economic crisis and austerity hit its media sector.

For this and other reasons the unique access to an enhanced-security village in Kaeng Krachan national park already provided fresh ideas for several stories. On the other hand, following many of the journalistic principles in a traditional community amidst tension (ethnic Karen living in the national park face increasing restrictions on their agricultural activity and foraging in the name of forest preservation) was challenging. For instance, it is always better to be alone with the source (and translator) in a safe space, but I had read in advance not to mess with the local hierarchies of Thailand’s mountain peoples, and did not dare to object when one of the village headmen invited himself to an interview with a local worker. Continue reading

Writing about press freedom in Thailand

The Equal Times published my article on press freedom in Thailand (also available in French and Spanish).

“I tell other colleagues, ‘Hey, you are a journalist. You should be brave!’” says Chutima Sidasathian, whom I had a chance to meet thanks to Minority Rights Group, the organizers of a training I attended in Bangkok and Kaeng Krachan national park. There were many more interesting things she said, but it would have inflated my article way beyond the word limit, and it her story has already been reported on, too. On the other hand, I couldn’t find any information about Rangsee Limpichotikul in English. He wrote about the case of Por Cha Lee Rakcharoen, a.k.a. Billy, who was detained last year and went missing ever since.

It is always inspiring to see

My work for Cafe Babel

I am an active reporter and blogger for Cafe Babel, a multilingual European youth online magazine, since 2008. My profile with all articles and blog entries is here. You can follow my work on Twitter and Facebook.

I was the leader of Babel Lietuva, Cafe Babel’s Lithuanian branch, from 2011 to 2012. In 2010 and 2011 we hosted teams of international journalists in Vilnius under two “On the Ground” projects.

 

Political life of students in Istanbul (with Emmanuel Haddad, FR/EN, Cafe Babel, 16/11/2010)

Tomas Šileika: ‘We sing about what hurts in Lithuania’ (Cafe Babel, 23/05/2013)

LinkedIn Lithuania: crisis is catastrotunity for creative entrepreneurs (Cafe Babel, 10/04/2013)

Jerusalem Book Fair 2013 (Cafe Babel, 18/02/2013)

Post-revolution Egypt (Cafe Babel, 07/05/2011) Continue reading

My work for Equal Times

I started working as the Baltic correspondent for Equal Times in January 2013. Equal Times is a global news, opinion and campaign website about work, politics, the economy, development and the environment (Facebook, Twitter). My articles published:

Anti-violence protection – an issue confined to bedroom and shower?

[The original of this article was published in Delfi. It was translated for public procurement purposes. All rights belong to Delfi.]

Half-truth is worse than an open lie. Unfortunately, it is namely the half-truths that are used to juxtapose the Council of Europe Convention on preventing violence against women, family violence prevention and combat, with the widely-discussed Gender Loops programme and other methodologies that are used to raise awareness on gender-related social nature based on public expectations rather than that based on biological nature. Continue reading