Since the end of the Franco dictatorship, the Spanish press has undergone a series of drastic changes that have converted it into the interesting area of Spanish literature that it is today. The new found freedom and the age of technology brought the Spanish press both problems and advantages. However, despite the crisis the Spanish press faces today, many great Spanish journalists continue to appear and many have been recognized for their literary contribution. Contemporary Spanish journalism is therefore a great way to learn about Spanish culture and society as well as to learn Spanish too.
In 1970, a crisis would ensue that would send us into the age of information in which we find ourselves immersed today. The development of new technologies was affecting all types of communication, but in particular, the written press. During the democratic transition in Spain, the press began to experience an important increase in the number of publications dealing with all manner of subjects. As well as some of the more historical newspapers such as ABC and La Vanguardia, there were a number of new ones joining the Spanish press scene, such as El País and El Mundo.
At the beginning of the democratic period in Spain, there was an agreement made between the main newspapers and the government that the Spanish press would be supportive of the politicians, so as to not let the government fail in that fragile time. However, in 1977, a group of papers published a collective article that called for greater freedom for the press. Just five days later, a decree was passed allowing more freedom of expression for the media.
The role of Spanish journalism changed again though after the general elections of 1977. Once the political parties had been established and elected, Spanish newspapers switched their attention to commenting on and assessing the political activities of the government. Life wasn't always easy for the Spanish press; during the first 5 years of democracy, there were several kidnappings of contemporary Spanish journalists, around 60 between 1976 and 1980.
The 1980s saw the press become even further involved in politics, particularly during the attempted coup d'État of 1981. However this decade also saw the Spanish press gaining competition with audiovisual media as the laws surrounding the telecommunications industry were liberated thanks to the arrival of the socialists. However, the Spanish press in the last few years has not just commented on the news in Spain, but it has also created it. There have been several famous journalistic scandals including political campaigns and cases of corruption. Particularly in the 1990s, the press often found itself coming up against censorship about foreign affairs from both internal and external forces. Fortunately, the press was liberated again with the turn of the century.
The traditional format of the written Spanish press has also been challenged over the last few years by the rise in two new competitors: the wide usage of the internet and the electronic press. These along with alternative forms of information such as blogs have led the written press to search for ways to remain popular. Furthermore, the arrival of the free press, handed out in the street and funded totally by advertising, has also led to a crisis in Spanish journalism. That said, there are a number of contemporary Spanish journalists that have gained critical acclaim for their pieces and articles, helping to keep the prestige and history of the Spanish press alive.
It is often overlooked how much contemporary Spanish journalism affects the daily lives and opinions of people in Spain. Journalists have a lot of power, and through their skilful mastery of the Spanish language, they can create strong feelings in almost anyone. It is for this reason that Spanish journalism is studied as part of advanced Spanish courses in Spain, as well as the reason for there being so many famous contemporary Spanish journalists.
In fact, some of them have even made it into the Real Academia Española. For example, in 1996 Luis María Anson and Juan Luis Cebrián were admitted into the institution in recognition of their contribution to literature through the written press. This move also helped the academy itself appear much more in tune with the media and politics.
Other contemporary Spanish journalists of a high literary caliber include Javier Marías, Pedro J. Ramírez, Federico Jiménez Losantos and Juan Manuel de Prada. Many of these journalists have also worked in other literary genres including novels and essays, but they are particularly famous for their articles and journalistic pieces.