Spain Explained For Members

A foreigner's guide to understanding the Spanish press in five minutes

Conor Faulkner
Conor Faulkner - [email protected]
A foreigner's guide to understanding the Spanish press in five minutes
Want to find out more about Spain's complex media landscape? Here are the main things you need to know. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

Want to decipher the different political biases in the Spanish press? Eager to find out which newspaper you'll enjoy reading while improving your Spanish? Here's everything that's interesting and important about Spain's newspaper landscape.


Like almost any other democracy in the world, Spain has a range of newspapers that stretch across the political spectrum. In fact, according to the association Editores de Diarios Españoles (Editors of Spanish Dailies), there are over 100 published in Spain alone, with a total daily circulation of over 2 million copies between all its national, regional, and local titles. 

Although a flurry of newspapers were born at the end of the Franco dictatorship and during the transition period, and the free press held up as the backbone of Spanish democracy, even Spain’s relatively young media ecosystem has been unable to avoid the overall global trend in falling newspaper readership.

Whereas in 2009 16.4 million Spaniards picked up a newspaper every day, in 2022 that figure had shrunk to 5.6 million daily readers.


Spain is in essence joining the global shift towards digital, with fewer paper copies sold every year and all the leading national newspapers and many regional dailies turning to a subscription-based model to survive. There are now 3.6 million subscribers to digital newspapers in Spain, including The Local.

Interestingly, although Spanish newspapers are designed and published in tabloid format, the sensationalist reporting you might see in British tabloids is (largely) absent from the Spanish media landscape.

To help you understand and navigate la prensa española (the Spanish press), The Local has broken down the main periódicos (newspapers) in Spain, their editorial lines, history, and the differences between them:

spanish newspapers Front pages of Spanish newspapers dedicated to the 2017 Barcelona terror attacks. Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS /AFP

El País

Founded just six months after the death of Franco, El País (meaning ‘The Country’) is the newspaper with highest circulation in Spain. El País is considered the most progressive newspaper in Spain, the editorial line is largely social democrat and almost always supportive of PSOE.

Perhaps the most respected and well-known Spanish newspaper abroad, El País is the only big Spanish daily with an English-language edition. That being said, even El País hasn’t been able to buck the downward trend of print media; in the late-1990’s the left-wing paper sold almost 450,00 copies daily, but by 2016 that number had shrunk to 185,000.

El Mundo

Spain’s second biggest newspaper, El Mundo is also considered one of Spain’s print sources of record. Founded in 1989, El Mundo has ten regional editions with headquarters in Andalusia, Valencia, and the Balearics, among others. 

Editorially, El Mundo is broadly centre-right and critical of PSOE and Podemos, as well as nationalist and separatist groups in the Basque Country and Catalonia.

Although it leans right editorially, El Mundo (The World) reporters have played their part in uncovering several big political scandals over the years, including Guardia Civil corruption, fraud by the governor of the Bank of Spain, and the paper played a role in the fall of Felipe González’s socialist government in the 1996 election.


ABC has much more history than both El Mundo and El País, founded in Madrid in 1903. It’s conservative editorially and a staunch defender of the Spanish monarchy, also known for its full-page photographic front pages which catch the eye at newspaper stands across Spain.

It is also distributed in Latin America, and is often the Spanish language newspaper of choice for exiled Cubans and Venezuelans. Interestingly, for a time during the Civil War there were two editions of ABC: one in Madrid that supported the Republicans when the headquarters were taken over, and another in Sevilla supportive of the nationalist cause. 


La Vanguardia

The oldest of all Spanish newspapers, La Vanguardia (Vanguard) was founded in Barcelona in 1881. Its conservative editorial line meant it was left alone during Franco’s dictatorship at a time when many other newspapers were forced to support the regime, and the paper has endured as one of Spain’s best-selling daily newspapers that focuses particularly on regional and separatist issues, remaining a favourite among Catalonia’s middle classes.

La Razón

The youngest of Spain’s big five newspapers, La Razón (The Reason) was founded in Madrid in 1998 and has an economically liberal, socially conservative editorial line. La Razón has had its fair share of controversies over the years, including most recently in 2015 when it published a photoshopped picture of a Canadian Sikh man and linked him to the 2015 Paris terror attacks. 


El Diario

An online title founded in 2012, El Diario has a progressive editorial stance and is read by the academic and middle class left. Edited by Ignacio Escolar García, El Diario was born after Público (also founded by García) after it ceased to print and is staffed by many former Público journalists. El Diario is a partner of the Guardian newspaper. 

El Confidencial 

Another digital paper, El Confidencial is an old school online newspaper, if that’s possible, starting back in 2001. Its coverage has a financial and economic focus, with lots of political analysis, and has a broadly liberal editorial outlook. El Confidencial increased its international reputation for its role in The Panama Papers leaks.

El Español

Even though it only launched in 2015, El Español was the most read digital newspaper in Spain in 2022. Set up by the former head of El Mundo Pedro J. Ramírez through equity crowdfunding, it produces a huge amount of digital content, with an emphasis on politics. It could be defined as being a centre-right publication. 


Regional titles

Anyone who has spent any time in Spain knows how varied and distinct its regional identities are. This translates to dozens of newspapers too, with Spain having a more influential, effective and well-read local newspaper market than most other European countries. 

Often these regional titles are aligned editorially with political movements, or even separatist or nationalist ideology, and printed in regional dialects. The big hitters are El Periódico de Catalunya, which has built a respectable readership among young left of centre people in Catalonia, and prints in both Spanish and Catalan, as well as Gara, a Basque/Spanish language newspaper founded in 1999 that was born after the long-running daily paper Egin was closed down due to its links to separatist group ETA, Gara has since softened its stance somewhat but still has a distinctly nationalist, anti-Madrid editorial stance. 

Other notable mentions are La Voz de Galicia, Heraldo de Aragón, El Correo in the Basque Country, Las Provincias in the Valencia region, Diario de Avisos in the Canary Islands, Diario Sur in Andalusia, El Diario Montañés in Cantabria, Hoy in Extremadura and Última Hora in the Balearics.

Sports newspapers

Similarly, anyone who has spent time in Spain knows that perhaps the only thing that trumps regional or political affiliations are football teams. Simply put, the Spanish are football mad, and sports newspapers are absolutely huge in Spain.

spanish sport newspapers Sports newspapers are more read by Spaniards than regular news dailies. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

The major sports papers in Spain are MARCA and Diario AS, which support Real Madrid. There are two Barça biased papers, Sport and El Mundo Deportivo, which have a sizeable but smaller readership outside of Catalonia.

MARCA is the most read newspaper - of any kind, sports or not, national or regional - anywhere in Spain. A staggering 2,500,000 read MARCA daily, not only for their football analysis but for the ongoing soap-opera style commentary of the rivalries between Spain’s biggest clubs. Not only is it by far Spain’s most read newspaper, it’s also one of the oldest: MARCA was founded in 1938, during the Spanish Civil War, and is a sister publication of El Mundo.

Owned by the same group that controls El País, AS is primarily a football publication, with a particular focus on the Madrid teams. There are, however, other bureaus across Spain, and in 2012 the newspaper launched an English language online edition that is widely cited in the English football media.


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Anonymous 2022/01/27 20:04
There are two more sports titles which are published in Barcelona: El Mundo Deportivo and Sport.

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