Our digital society is inflicting a Copernicus-like, far-reaching change in the structures of contemporary liberal democracies and the media as we know it. It is impossible and unnecessary to adopt defensive attitudes towards that change, even if we certainly know that the transition will be both difficult and painful.
Spain’s current media landscape is worrisome, mainly because of the economic crisis and the fast introduction of new technologies. In the last five years, the Spanish newspapers have cut more than 12% of its circulation and ad sales have plummeted 50%. Painful restructurings have resulted in 6,000 layoffs.
Such has been the collapse that we may well suspect that we are bottoming out. We face an absolutely necessary disruptive process that we have to endure in order to survive. It is impossible for me to predict the survival of newspapers as we know them, but in any case, people will always need the kind of “person that explains to the people what happens to other people.”
More important, however, is the fact that PRISA, the largest media company in the global Spanish-speaking market, owns the influential Spanish newspaper El País.
PRISA has not said how many workers will go, but local media said more than a quarter of the paper’s staff could be forced out.
“We can’t keep living so well,” PRISA Chairman Juan Luis Cebrián told staff on Friday, in comments published by the workers’ committee of the left-leaning paper, Spain’s best-read generalist daily.
One of the paper’s journalists, Carlos Cue, said on Twitter it was the “worst day in the history of El País”.
PRISA has made cuts across its various outlets, including business daily Cinco Días and radio station Cadena Ser. This latest round of cash-saving measures will be formalized on Tuesday.
The programme includes firing workers, early retirement for some and reducing salaries. Across the Spanish media, the average journalist’s salary has halved since the onset of the country’s financial crisis.
It is worrying that the median age [at El País] is 53 years old (189 staffers are older than 50 while only 10 are younger than 30), and that hinders our capabilities to achieve what we need in order to survive.
FJP: Politicians tend to leak newsworthy stories to journalists on Fridays in order to dissipate the buzz throughout the weekend. TODAY, regrettably, the news broke from within and everyone in the newsroom is concerned.
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