Malta: a media landscape convulsed by murder

In October 2017, the murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia dealt a devastating blow to the Maltese media. She had made a name for herself exposing political and economic corruption and was also well-known outside the country.

A photograph outside the Courts of Justice building in Valletta comemorating the murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
A photograph outside the Courts of Justice building in Valletta comemorating the murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
A bomb under the seat of her car ended the life of Daphne Caruana Galizia on 16 October 2017. It had been planted by two men who allegedly had contact with the Maltese Minister of Economic Affairs.

Even after many months little is known about the men behind the murder. But what is clear is that Galizia was investigating the involvement of the Maltese Prime Minister and his wife in the Panama Papers scandal and energy deals with Azerbaijan.

At the time of her murder 42 defamation lawsuits were pending against Caruana Galizia, a sign of just how aggressive Malta's politicians and business leaders are against critical journalists.

Relative to its population Malta has an extraordinarily diverse media landscape. There are fourteen daily and weekly newspapers, six national television channels, more than a dozen radio stations and several websites.
Between 1814 and 1964, Malta was under British rule and English is still an official language alongside Maltese.

Malta's colonial legacy is also reflected in its media: half of the print media, two daily and five weekly newspapers are published in English. The daily with the largest print run is the English-language Times of Malta, founded in 1935. With around 60,000 readers it is considered a reference newspaper and like its British model The Times charges for some of its online content. The circulations of Malta's print media are without exception in decline, while online media services are rapidly growing. Almost 75 percent of Maltese regularly use the Internet. Malta's social media usage rate per capita is much higher than the EU average.

Whereas the English-language publications are commercially oriented, the country's two largest political parties subsidise their own Maltese-language newspapers. Here media presence rather than economic viability is the name of the game. The institutional influence extends to many media: the ruling Labour Party owns a weekly, a television channel and a radio station and a news portal. The opposition Nationalist Party publishes a daily. The Church owns its own radio station and an online news site and even the trade-union GWU owns a daily and a weekly newspaper and a news site, demonstrating the extent to which interest groups use Malta's media market as a mouthpiece.

Press Freedom Index (Reporters Without Borders):
Rank 65 (2018)

Last updated: April 2018
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