In the modern era, the readership of Spanish newspapers is decreasing, as the Spaniards choose other media forms to get their daily news, namely television and internet. However there are still many strong newspapers with good reputations throughout Spain, both regional and national.
The printed press in Spain truly began in the 18th century, at which point it was considerably influenced by the French press, as it also had a circulation in Spain. The main content of one of the first Spanish newspapers, El Diario de los Literarios, was literary, artistic and scientific, and it promoted the ideas of the Spanish thinkers and intellectual minds of the time. There were also some articles about the economy.
Despite its name, however, this wasn’t actually a daily newspaper. The first daily was the Diario Noticioso, Curioso, Erudito, Commercial y Politico, which would later become the Diario de Madrid (Madrid Daily) and this contained news of all types. It was started by Francisco Mariano Nipho, who is hence known to be the founder of journalism in Spain. The newspaper was backed by King Fernando VI and became very popular, as people enjoyed reading the general news, as well as the literary content and sketches.
Due to the popularity of this daily paper, many other similar ones emerged and in the 19th century, some began to be linked to political parties, as opposed to intellectuals, as they had been in the early days. As the century came to an end, newspaper publishing also began to become a commercial activity for the first time.
By the start of the 20th century there were over 2000 newspapers in circulation, although there were several obstacles that the Spanish press would encounter during the next 100 years. After the victory of Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil war in 1939, press control and censorship became an important part of his strict regime and the state became the main news publisher. Some private publishers did exist but they too had to follow the rules. Anything that could be suggested as a criticism of the Franco regime or the military was not allowed and Catholic organisations also censored anything that was considered immoral or sexually explicit. In 1966, the Fraga Law was introduced, which allowed a little more liberty of expression, but did not allow complete freedom. During the Franco regime, the government also controlled the number of publications, which stopped the press from growing.
After the death of Franco in 1975, the transition to democracy began: the censorship eased and some new newspapers emerged. One of these was El País , which is now Spain’s leading newspaper. It is printed in Madrid in a compact tabloid format and covers all aspects of news and culture, both national and international. It is renowned for its quality journalism and also has a popular internet edition. After El País, El Mundo is another leading Spanish newspaper; also know for its quality coverage of national and international affairs.
The newspaper ABC is also among the biggest sellers, although saw its true days of glory right through the Civil war and the Franco dictatorship. It is a conservative newspaper, linked to right-wing politics and the Catholic Church. It is strongly against the nationalism of the autonomous regions, for example. Newspapers in these areas, in the regional languages of Galician, Basque and Catalan, have also grown in popularity since the end of Franco’s regime. El Periodico, which is printed in Barcelona, in both Spanish and Catalan editions, is one of Spain’s best selling newspapers. Galicia has La Voz de Galicia, with its printed and online editions both in Spanish and Galician, and the Basque country, until 2003, has a Basque-only newspaper, Euskaldunon Egunkaria.
Sporting newspapers are also highly popular in Spain, Marca being one of the highest circulating papers of any type, as well as ‘gossip’ type publications