Spain's Largest Newspaper, 'El Pais' May Close Print Edition

In a development that would have been unthinkable two decades ago, El Pais, Spain’s largest newspaper may cease publishing a print edition and go all-digital, the editor-in-chief revealed in a memo to staff circulated on Friday.

The news comes amid closures, or speculation about potential closures, of the print editions of a number of established newspapers around the world.

According to Reuters, El Pais EIC Antonio Cano warned editorial staff that big changes are afoot, without disclosing a specific timeline for the demise of the print edition. Shuttering the print edition would only be the beginning, rather than the end, of the newspaper’s transformation.

“The step from paper to digital is just one part and is not even the biggest of the many steps that newspapers will have to take until we find our true space in the future,” said Cano.



Comparable to The New York Times in the U.S., El Pais gained its reputation as the Spanish newspaper of record during the country’s transition to a democratic constitutional monarchy following the death of longtime dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

However, like its peers around the world, El Pais has seen print circulation and advertising revenues decline steeply along with its print readership, in a process hastened by the economic downturn at the end of the last decade.

Over the last 10 years, the circ tumbled 45% from a high of 469,000 in 2004 to 260,000 in 2014. Revenues at parent company Prisa plunged 65% from 4 billion euros in 2008 to 1.4 billion in 2014, or from around $6.2 billion to $1.75 billion at contemporary exchange rates. Prisa also carries debts of around $2.1 billion.

Last month, Britain's The Independent announced that it would cease publishing its print edition this month, but will continue publishing on its Web site and a new app. The move to digital-only publishing will entail an unspecified number of layoffs.

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