Spain, it seems, doesn’t actually have any real newspaper power

In the UK, the top dailies sell about 10 million copies a weekday. According to ABC figures.

That means 1 major national daily is sold for every 6 citizens, right?

Well, Pedro J Ramírez, flamboyant editor of El Mundo, makes the startling admission today that Spain today only has four national dailys, and only three of those manage to sell more than 100,000 copies a day.

Meaning… about one national copy per 430 citizens. Pedro says about 300 journalists are employed by the papers.

Of course, times have changed and for a lot of people in Spain, a daily newspaper is simply a luxury they can’t afford anymore.

No wonder the place is so corrupt. Even if we ignore the fact that all of these papers are heavily aligned with one political grouping or another, they simply don’t have the resources to track down anything interesting, and if they do, they don’t have the audience to whip up fury.

But, of course, lots of people read the papers online nowadays. The current strategy of the Spanish papers seems to be to put the news online but only put the commentary and opinion in the printed editions, in the hope people will buy them.

El Mundo is becoming the first daily national in Spain to take a major switch to digital, and is, it seems, erecting a paywall around most of its site. Monthly access will be less than “two relaxing cups of café con leche in the Plaza Mayor”, in the words of Pedro. A full digital switchover can’t be far behind – fairly soon, I predict, they’ll only be publishing in the main cities.

However, they are now going to two editions a day, the morning edition (which is printed) and then an afternoon digital only. All content is online, and if you buy the printed edition, you get free daily access to the site. Indeed, Pedro hints that more info is online than in the printed edition.

An interesting experiment. I’d say it’s the beginning of the end of the printed daily national in Spain, but let’s see what happens.

5 Replies to “Spain, it seems, doesn’t actually have any real newspaper power”

  1. It’s bound to happen. the printing and distribution costs, perhaps the best part of a euro per copy, saved with an all-digital newspaper (like ours! ;-)). However, to pay for the business and keep Pedro Jota in cigars, we need a pay-wall, or some other brilliant scheme. The problem with the pay-wall? No one wants ‘in’ and they’ll go to another source instead (hey, it’s only news).

  2. Not actually national tho. Rather Andalucian nationalist in tone for my liking. That and fruit based.

  3. The Spanish print media had serious issues long before digital became the norm, and I think that the rise of web, and now the recession, has only really brought things to wider attention. In the 80s and 90s, Spanish print media circulation was already well below average (perhaps a Franco legacy? It’d be interesting to compare with Portugal and Greece).

    I’m not convinced that digital is going to replace print entirely, at least in the short and medium term (and even in the long term, I expect that the “newspapers of record” will maintain a print edition for prestige and corporate buyers such as unis and libraries), though I agree (unhappily) that the nationals pulling print from marginal regional markets is likely as high logistics overheads and the marginal sub-prime demographic in regional markets make it less important to both advertisers and the paper itself.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see a move towards subscription only print distribution in places like the minor/outer Canary islands, the enclaves and rural areas.

    As for complete digitisation, I think is actually more likely in the regional papers, which have less revenue to play with, fewer big name advertisers to demand print circulation, and also a less valuable brand that demands space on the shelves.

    Either way, I think the big names will survive, whatever form they take. El Mundo and El Pais probably have a bigger following outside of Spain than in it, and that helps their brand punch above weight in terms of raw distribution.

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