The Times (Malta)
The Times front page in November 2011
|Owner||Allied Newspapers Limited|
|Political alignment||Centre|
Times of Malta is Malta's top news organisation. Founded in 1935, by Lord and Lady Strickland (of Sizergh) and Lord Strickland's daughter Mabel. It is the oldest daily newspaper still in circulation in Malta. It has the widest circulation[by whom?] and is seen as the daily newspaper of "reference" of the Maltese press. The newspaper and its popular website timesofmalta.com are known to be the most influential media sources in Malta. It is an independent media organisation and the company is owned by the Strickland Foundation.
The popular Sunday edition also puts strong emphasis on the social and cultural arena in Malta. Locally, Timesofmalta.com is the most accessed news website in Malta and ranks as the fifth most visited site overall.
The history of The Times of Malta is linked with that of its publishing house, Allied Newspapers Limited. This institution has a history going back to the 1920s, when it pioneered journalism and the printing industry in Malta. It all started with the publication, by Gerald Strickland, of Malta's first evening newspaper in Maltese, Il-Progress. This was a four-page daily with its own printing offices in what was then 10A, Strada Reale, Valletta. The name "Progress" is retained to this day by the commercial sister of Allied Newspapers Limited, Progress Press Company Limited, formed in 1946.
Bilingual journalism, Maltese and English, was introduced in Malta with the publication, on February 3, 1922, of an English supplement to Il-Progress. The Times of Malta and Il-Progress lasted till 1 March 1929. The English supplement then became The Times of Malta Weekly (forerunner of The Sunday Times of Malta). The Maltese side was named Ix-Xemx, later changed to Id-Dehen and later still to Il-Berqa, first published on 29 January 1932. Il-Berqa ceased publication on 30 November 1968. In February 1931, Progress Press moved from Strada Reale to 341, St Paul Street, Valletta, the present site of Allied Newspapers Limited, also known as Strickland House.
As readership of the English supplement to Il-Progress soared, Lord Strickland was quick to see that there was room for an English daily. This would happen so long as the new publication achieved and maintained a high standard of public service in information. The first issue of The Times of Malta was published in full co-operation with the British MI5 on 7 August 1935 under menacing war clouds as Italy planned the invasion of Abyssinia, which began in October of that year. On 2 September 1935, Mabel Strickland, who was a founder member of Allied Malta Newspapers Limited and formed part of the first Board of Directors, became the first editor of The Times of Malta. She also edited The Sunday Times of Malta from 1935 to 1950 when she was succeeded by the late George Sammut who retired in 1966. Anthony Montanaro was the next editor. He retired on 1 March 1991 and succeeded by Laurence Grech.
On 6 August 1960, the 25th anniversary of The Times of Malta, Strickland wrote that The Times of Malta, whilst originally a party paper[which?], had become a national newspaper. The paper won for itself a reputation for objective reporting whilst upholding its own strongly held editorial opinion. Strickland's editorship covered the difficult years of World War II. Nevertheless, none of the newspapers forming part of the Group ever missed an issue in spite of continuous bombing and all kinds of shortages in the siege years between 1940 and 1943. The building was bombed twice, receiving a direct hit on 7 April 1942, when sixteen rooms where demolished but, miraculously, sparing the printing machines.
Thomas Hedley took over as editor from Strickland in 1950. He edited the paper through the traumatic years of political and industrial change culminating in Malta's Independence in 1964. He retired in 1965. Under the editorship of Charles Grech Orr, The Times kept up the tradition of never missing an issue when twice hit by industrial action in 1973 and when political arsonists burned the building down on October 15, 1979. That date came to be known as "Black Monday". In the face of serious danger, the editor and his staff had to abandon the building. Printing of the following day's paper continued at another printing press, Independence Press. The paper was out on the street as usual the following morning, reduced in size but a triumph for freedom of expression. The newspaper was forced to drop the word 'Malta' from its title in 1978 as a result of legislation by the Mintoff government.
Grech Orr retired in 1989 and died in 2012. He was succeeded by Ray Bugeja in 1990, who in 1993 left The Times to join The Malta Independent. In 1993 Victor Aquilina became editor, spending 10 years in the post, and retiring in 2003, when he was replaced by Mr Bugeja, who had since returned to Allied Newspapers stable.
A restructuring process started in 2012 to incorporate the three main media arms under one entity, thus ensuring more coordination. Steve Mallia was appointed editor in chief in 2012. Head of media is Herman Grech, online executive is Chris Scicluna, content editor is Ray Bugeja and Sunday executive is Anthony Manduca. In 2013, the news organisation reverted to its original Times of Malta name.
Aquilina and Others v. Malta
On 14 June 2011 in a landmark decision in the case of Aquilina and Others v. Malta, the European Court of Human Rights found in favour of former editor Victor Aquilina and former journalist Sharon Spiteri and ruled that there had been a breach of their right to freedom of expression (Article 10 of the convention).