The Times of Malta is an English-language daily newspaper in Malta. Founded in 1935, by Lord and Lady Strickland and Lord Strickland's daughter Mabel, it is the oldest daily newspaper still in circulation in Malta. It has the widest circulation and is seen as the daily newspaper of "reference" of the Maltese press. The newspaper is published by Allied Newspapers Limited which is owned by the Strickland Foundation, a charitable trust established by Mabel Strickland in 1979 to control the majority of the company. According to Alexa Internet the Times of Malta website is the most accessed website in Malta.
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 3 February 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, 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 were demolished but 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. 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 15 October 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. During the last 10 years, its website timesofmalta.com has become the primary news source in Malta and one of the main news websites in the Mediterranean.
Ray Bugeja is editor of Times of Malta, Herman Grech is editor of timesofmalta.com and Mark Wood is editor of The Sunday Times of 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).