Yesterday, you may have seen that Gabriella Sutton was relieved of her duties as Secretary General of the Malta Health Students Organisation. Now, you may have seen this news either via an official Press Release by MHSA, or via an article ran on the website of student media organisation, Third Eye. Whilst I will not get embroiled in the circumstances of Ms. Sutton’s removal from MHSA, the circumstances of which are much more complex than they initially seemed; I do take issue on the nature of the reporting that followed it.
Journalism as a concept revolves around the provision of news. Now, the word news carries a very broad definition to it; however the one thing that all news has in common is that it has to be supported by facts. Personally, I don’t believe in copy-paste journalism (if you can even call it journalism) and one of the principles that The Yuppie is built upon is credibility. To gain credibility as a journalistic institution; one cannot simply copy and paste a statement and be done with it. One must seek the story; present both sides of the argument. The fact that the media organisation in question decided to screenshot Ms. Sutton’s Facebook statement two hours later does not make them innocent. Any journalistic institution worth its salt would have published both statements at the same time.
As things came about, Ms. Sutton was put in a negative light without any facts behind her situation or her point of view being revealed for a whole two hours. In legal speak; that mean it’s defamatory and libelous. However, from a university perspective; this shoddy reporting is also a significant reason as to why people may be drawn away from student activism.
Fact is that any organisation will, at some point or other, have an internal dispute. This is something that isn’t simply reserved to university organisations; it’s a global thing. What student is realistically going to want to enter into an organisation; knowing that if such issues do arise, he or she will have his or her name dragged through the mud by the media without having a chance to get their perspective in edge-ways?
We spoke to JEF’s Naomi Bugre, who told us exclusively:
“I felt it was unfair to use such a situation to put the focus so blatantly on [Ms. Sutton] as an individual without giving her the chance to comment as well as targeting her reputation so frivolously. I am in no way against Third Eye but that article, I felt, put someone’s reputation at stake for the sake of getting news out and it really makes you wonder whether we are making stuff into news without considering the implications of it.”
We then actually approached Gabriella Sutton, who kindly agreed to offer exclusive comments to The Yuppie about the situation:
I am utterly disappointed with the conduct of the Third Eye regarding the news about my sudden termination. My aim as a student activist is to work tirelessly to promote and safeguard the rights of health science students, not to engage in gossip or to gain popularity. Adding my name to a clickbait-style caption is not only insulting to my work, but insulting to the whole association, which is held in high regard within the student community. I look forward to a public apology from the Third Eye organisation for the lack of tact and professionalism shown when breaking the news.
The Yuppie stands with Ms. Sutton in this situation; and will always be committed to providing news to the students; real news with real facts and taking into consideration that we are speaking about real people.
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