Ryan Murdock in conversation with Caroline Muscat


I want to give you a rare behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like being an investigative journalist in Malta after the car bomb assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. 

And so I reached out to my friend Caroline Muscat, founder and editor-in-chief of The Shift, the Maltese investigative news portal where I was a weekly columnist for over four years.

If you’ve read my new book A Sunny Place for Shady People, you’ll be aware of the circumstances surrounding Daphne’s brutal murder and the struggle of her family to get something resembling justice for her and her stories.

I asked Caroline what it was like to live through those events, and to pick up the torch and carry on some of those investigations.

We also spoke about the situation in Malta now, more than six years later.

I hope you’ll spare half an hour to watch our conversation:

Sadly, very little has changed.

Journalists in Malta are still under threat from their own government. The State continues to attack those who try to hold it accountable, using some of the very same tactics they turned on Daphne.

And those who ordered Daphne’s murder — and those who benefitted most from her silence — have not been brought to justice.

Contrary to what the Maltese government’s well-timed international press releases attempt to imply, the situation is far from case closed, but much of the world has moved on.

Outside pressure can help. The more people who know this story the harder it is for the authorities in Malta to shield those involved from justice. 

Foreign governments can’t change things in a small island country at the centre of the Mediterranean. But they can make it increasingly uncomfortable to maintain the sordid status quo.

I hope you find this conversation with Caroline interesting. 

If you’d like to help, you could start by sharing it with others.

You can also support The Shift more directly with a donation, however small. I know how hard they struggle to do impeccable investigative journalism while fending off threats and keeping the lights on.

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About the author

Ryan Murdock

Author of A Sunny Place for Shady People and Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Writer at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.


  • Hi Ryan,

    I have always wanted to visit Malta but am conflicted because of its history of human rights violations . I know some progress is being made – abortion is no longer illegal but as you have made us aware the situation for journalists is still not good.

    I am conflicted because I am not sure travel boycotts are the answer? Are they ? Do you have any thoughts on travelling ethically in a ‘ shady ‘ country as you so eloquently put it.
    I would appreciate your thoughts on this .
    Kind Regards

    • Thank you Thia, that’s a great question. I think it’s important to go to such places, not as a spoon fed tourist but as a critical observer, to ask questions and take notes and come back and tell others what you saw.

      My first real published work (apart from excerpts in two anthologies) was a newspaper column on North Korea. I had a chance to go there at the last minute in August 2001 while living in Tokyo. It involved taking a stack of cash in a plastic bag and handing it over to some guy on arrival in Pyongyang. But I was able to see this strange prison state at a time when few others could. For those trapped there, the stories I brought back were their only voice to the outside world.

      I think it’s worth doing that even for places like Malta. Go to the informal memorial to Daphne in Valletta, for example, and watch how people interact with it. Talk to people, ask them who she was or what they think. Don’t judge or argue, just listen to what they say, and observe. Try to get a sense of the place and come back and talk about what you saw. There’s also a rich history to explore in Malta beyond the island’s current plight. If you’re worried about your tourist euros going to some hotel developer crony of the Muscat regime, you could ask civil society groups there to recommend a more ethical host. And you can avoid restaurants and businesses connected to accused mastermind Yorgen Fenech’s Tumas Group of companies, and former chief of staff Keith Schembri’s Kasco Group of companies.


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