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Title: The role of the press in Malta 1981-1987 : a story of red and white told in black and white
Authors: Fenech, Ian (2022)
Keywords: Press and politics -- Malta
Maltese newspapers
Malta -- History -- 1979-
Elections -- Malta -- History -- 20th century
Catholic Church -- Education -- Malta -- History
Church and state -- Malta
Malta -- Politics and government -- 1964-
Press and propaganda -- Malta
Political violence -- Malta
Issue Date: 2022
Citation: Fenech, I. (2022). The role of the press in Malta 1981-1987 : a story of red and white told in black and white (Bachelor’s dissertation).
Abstract: Brian McNair wrote that the study of the press is the study of democracy by definition. In this spirit, this dissertation seeks to identify and explore themes which afflicted the Maltese press throughout the troubled period between 1981 and 1987. Indeed, this dissertation aims to portray aspects of the period through a critical review of the press of the time and analyse its role in Malta’s democratic process. The narrative is mainly drawn from the pages of the seven most widely distributed papers at the time, namely the Orizzont, the Torċa, the Nazzjon, the Mument, the Times of Malta and the Sunday Times of Malta. The first chapter explores the different roles which the press plays in a democracy. The press is described as the fourth estate, serving as a watchdog as well as informing the public, commenting, and providing a forum for citizens to engage with each other and the powers that be. Furthermore, chapter one provides a brief historical context and argues that the peculiarities and eccentricities of the Maltese democratic process generated a highly polarized environment that shaped how the press operated. The second chapter builds on the historical narrative by rendering the election's immediate aftermath from the pages of several different press organizations, showcasing the contrasting interpretations of the major aspects that arose in the dramatic week which followed the 12 December general election. From expectation to anguish, celebration into confusion, after the realization of the inconclusive and perverse outcome of the election. The press engulfed in the fog of war struggles to make sense of it all. This chapter serves to establish the starting position of the factions, which the press would in different ways defend and advocate. The following chapter provides three examples of the intense polarization of the press allied to the two parties. The boycott of Xandir Malta and the Tal-Barrani incidents are two examples of the long and bruising civil disobedience campaign led by Eddie Fenech Adami. The third episode discussed in chapter three is the discovery of weaponry and other nefarious equipment in the PN's headquarters in Pieta’. These episodes perhaps best exhibit the tremendous tension that characterized the period the period. Moreover, these incidents and events demonstrate the willingness of the party-political press to distort hard news to prop up the narrative of their respective factions. Chapter four narrates the clash over free education from the middle pages of the Sunday Times of Malta, a protracted saga that re-ignited the lingering rivalry between the powerful Catholic Church and the Socialists in the summer of 1984. Malta’s most popular English language weekly takes the role of a forum in which the debate that best betrays the ideological split between the Liberal Conservatives and Socialists evolves. This chapter also introduces the important figure of the designated leader of the Socialists and future Prime Minister Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici, which spearheaded the last battle of the long and bruising war between Socialists and the Catholic Church.
Description: B.A. (Hons)(Melit.)
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacArt - 2022
Dissertations - FacArtHis - 2022

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