The Role of Journalism in the Creation of National Identity

By: Robert Glyn Mon Hughes  

Between 1543 and 1999, Wales did not, technically, exist. King Henry VIII enacted the Act of Union which made Wales part of England, often making it illegal to use Welsh in the everyday life of the nation. As a result, unlike Scotland, there was no distinct legal system, banking system, church, or education system. Most schools taught in English and no university existed until the late 19th century. However, journalists writing in Welsh established a range of journals which reawoke the Welsh to their considerable literature and other branches of culture. They wrote political, religious and ethical articles, often putting themselves at odds with the Westminster Government which had no idea of the content of their publications. Slowly, institutions such as the National Library of Wales and similar organisations were established, often as the result of journalists' efforts in the numerous outlets which existed. A new battle broke out when the BBC began broadcasting, as London-based management believed there was nothing of value which could be broadcast in Welsh. They caved in after the Welsh establishment, supported by journalists, exerted immense pressure on the corporation. Now, there are Welsh radio and TV channels, several magazines and an expanding online presence. However, most people in Wales consume media products produced outside the country, which mention little if anything relating to Welsh politics, current affairs and culture. Except, that is, for Welsh-language journalists who still continue the brave trails they blazed more than 300 years ago.

Identity Journalism Democracy
Civic, Political, and Community Studies
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Robert Glyn Mon Hughes

-, -, Liverpool John Moores University

I am senior lecturer in journalsim at Liverpool John Moores University. I have wroked at the university for 17 years and my recntly-completed PhD looked at the role of Welsh-language journalism in the creation of a national identity. I teach on undergrate and post-gradute programmes and I supervise doctoral students.