Media Magazine

Spanish-language Newspapers Thrive: Are Those Readers More Loyal?

Posted on the 01 September 2011 by Themarioblog @garciainteract

TAKEAWAY: It could be cultural, or it might be economic, but whatever the reasons, those Spanish language newspapers in the US, and in Latin America, seem to be thriving.  We talk to the experts in Latin America and Spain about the status of the Spanish language press.

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It appears that readers of Spanish language newspapers apparently stick to their printed newspapers with more gusto than their English-language reading counterparts.

Two studies support that notion, one primarily about Spanish language media in the US, the other one a forecast for the success of newspapers in Latin America. Both are encouraging, but also pose the question: why? What makes Spanish language readers more likely to read their newspapers?

The first study, from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, tells us that “Hispanic newspapers overall lost circulation in 2010, but not nearly to the extent of the English-language press. The total number of Spanish-language newspapers remained stable.“

In 2010 and the beginning of 2011, the longstanding, flagship Hispanic newspapers saw slight decreases in print circulation. At the same time, though, they grew into other media forms and partnerships, mirroring what English-language general circulation dailies are also doing.

One of the most accepted measurements of the growth and stability of newspapers is the number of publications. Overall, the number of Spanish-language newspapers remained largely stable in 2010 (832 versus 835 in 2009). But the number of papers that paid to have their circulation independently audited is even more indicative of the economic success of newspapers, and those grew by 17% to 142, according to the Latino Print Network.

Meanwhile, in Latin America….

As reported earlier in this blog, Brazil and Argentina are likely to lead in newspaper circulation growth in Latin America. But dailies in the rest of the continent will also show signs of growth in the next five years, generating more than US$7.5 billion in revenues, according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Media & Entertainment Outlook for 2010-2014, the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas reported.

To support the fact that Hispanics apparently continue to like their printed newspapers, the study cites that we will also see growth in the development of free newspapers in Latin America, a fact that we at Garcia Media can corroborate based on conversations we have sustained in the past few weeks with publishers who are considering the start of freesheets in at least two Latin American countries.

I asked our Garcia Media Latinoamerica president, Rodrigo Fino, about this phenomenon, and this is what he told me:

It is simple, I believe that the growth of newspapers in Latin America goes parallel with economic growth in this area.  Large numbers of people are improving their economic level, getting higher salaries, which, in turn, increases consumer of goods, including cultural ones. And our newspapers are so totally immersed in cultural news and events.  But, it is important to note that NOT all newspapers are enjoying increase in circulation, it is mostly those which are priced cheaply, which is not to say that these are down market sensationalistic newspapers, they simply are priced right for mass consumption. And so for people who are new to the middle class, there is a certain pride with being able to buy a newspaper and take it home to the family. Also, remember, in Latin America, the price of mobile telephones, computers and Internet subscriptions remains high, another factor to consider.  Finally, for us in Latin America, the reading of a newspaper is a sort of cultural phenomenon, a legacy that we get from our grandparents, parents and we attach a lot of significance to the idea of consuming culture and information through the generations, sometimes thru the same newspaper. If we begin to see how the new generations are consuming news, then we also begin to see a different panorama, with a change of about 180 degrees.“

For more information go here:
Newspaper circulation to grow in Latin America

In Spain

In Spain, in spite of an extremely difficult economic situation, El Pais reported a 3% increase in circulation over the same time last year, with sales at 424,748 copies daily (Monday-Sunday). El Mundo, Spain’s young, investigative daily newspaper, has seen its circulation more than triple since it began operations in 1989.And among business and finance papers, Cinco Días reported an increase of 6% and closed the month with 32,612 copies.

However, let’s read this information with a bit of care.  Juan Varela, a Madrid-based journalist and blogger of Periodistas 21, reminds us that Spanish daily newspapers are no better off than their counterparts elsewhere, and not doing as well as those of Latin America, for example.

We see the same decline in circulation here than elsewhere in the newspaper markets of developed countries, and circulation has fallen between 5 and 8 percent in the past few years.
The paid for press has lost about 400,000 daily copies since 2007, which is by all records the best for the press in Spain.  The increase you mention for El Pais is seasonal, based on promotional strategies, which I believe are difficult to sustain.  However, it is true that El Pais has recovered some what when compared to its decline of 2010, the worst in its history.

For more information on Spanish newspaper circulation (most recent):

Newspaper circulation 2010:

Information about readers. Varela comments that although number of copies sold declined, number of readers increased:

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