All for the price of a cup of coffee

Have you noticed that recently everything is being compared to the price of a cup of coffee?

You can hop on a bus and roam around Valletta, all for the price of a cup of coffee.

You can donate to your favourite cause and salve your conscience, all for the price of a cup of coffee.

This measure is rather depressing and would never have existed before the corporate baristas hit our towns. But they have, and you can now quite easily fork out the best part of €5 for your branded cup of coffee. 

I also find this expression somewhat galling because every time I hear it the first thing that pops into my head is, “well, that depends on the coffee”. I mean are we talking about your Kawisari Java or a spoonful of Nescafe Instant topped up with a dash of warm milk? 

There’s a difference — and it’s an important difference.

The quality of the product is the difference, and although Kawisari Java may not be to everyone’s taste it is considered to be one of the finest Java coffees, setting the standard to which others aspire.

Many of us find the time each day for a quiet moment to enjoy our coffee. Some of us have almost ritualised the process, choosing this time to also digest the news and catch up on the papers. 

And like our coffee, we all have our preferences when it comes to our choice of newspaper. Some of us prefer the grubby old school version in print, while others, the techno comfy among us, are content to scroll through the news on our devices. 

Whichever paper we decide to read, we make our choice based on reasons and values that are important to us. So when the newspaper you have chosen holds itself out to be ‘independent’ and ‘investigative’ that is what you expect. At the very least, you’d expect the articles to have been written by that paper’s own journalists.

Well, that’s what you may expect, but it isn’t what you always get. Some newspapers can be a bit like a Latte Macchiato… lots of hot air and very little coffee.

The ‘Latte Macchiato’ approach to journalism is certainly gaining popularity in Malta. Some newsrooms seem to be loving it, and have become ingenious in the manner in which they’ve implemented it.

One example of this innovative approach I have come across involves training staff to use the ‘cut and paste’ function, and then setting them loose on other newsrooms’ stories.

They ‘cleverly’ chop and paste away until they think no one can spot the difference. The ‘new’ story is then published under their own byline.

The beauty about the ‘Latte Macchiato’ approach to journalism is that you can now really run a newsroom “all for the price of a cup of coffee”. 

But the downside is that your newspaper is no longer delivering quality journalism, as that doesn’t come for the price of a coffee… even when that coffee is Kawisari Java.

I don’t mind weak, milky coffee, and I’m a fan of Latte Macchiato. But I do think it should only be served up by trained baristas, and kept out of newsrooms. 

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