It remains a strange feature of the expat phenomenon that many of the expats who live in Spain know more about what is happening in the country they’ve left behind than the one they live in. Expat radio shows, access to the home country’s TV stations and the availability of papers from all over the world mean that some expats could be accused of living in their own little bubble.
Difficulties with the language don’t help. It is ironic that listening to Spanish radio and national TV and reading Spanish papers would help improve Spanish language learning, as well as keeping expats informed. However, it is rarely done and by and large, expats prefer to source their information already translated in the local free papers.
In this article we examine some of the ways that expats can keep up-to-date with the fortunes of the country they live in.
The Spanish papers
Just in case you are a competent Spanish speaker then a good source of information is, obviously, the Spanish newspaper itself. There are several Spanish daily newspapers, which have particular political leanings.
The papers are perhaps not as sensationalist as in some other countries and there aren’t the same number of examples of tabloid paper readily available. Of course, as with all cases, each paper does tend to have its particular spin on the latest news.
It has to be kept in mind that freedom of the press wasn’t established until 1978 in Spain. Before that it was strictly controlled under the Francoist dictatorship. Circulation levels are still well below those in most other European countries. However, there is perhaps more of a tradition of papers being handed around and being available to read in bars. One reason perhaps that the official circulation figures are relatively low.
Spanish newspapers can be bought from the usual outlets such as tobacconists, kiosks and in supermarkets. This is a run down of the main ones you will find on the high street.
El País is a left of centre newspaper that offers a wide range of coverage of Spanish news including political analysis and foreign news coverage.
El Mundo is the second biggest selling Spanish paper and reports from a right of centre perspective.
ABC is published in Madrid with some regional editions existing in the autonomous communities. It is a right of centre paper.
La Vanguardia is published in Barcelona and is read mostly in Catalonia. In spite of its regional roots, it is the fourth largest selling newspaper in Spain.
Marca is the country’s top sports, mainly football-dominated, daily.
El País does have some of its online stories translated into English. A beneficial addition for those wanting the news directly from the Spanish press but who don’t have command of the language (more details below).
Free papers in English
In addition there are a number of free papers for different nationalities that do provide some coverage of what is happening in Spain. However, they do tend to be full of lighter news about the local expat population that they represent.
The fact that the papers are free means that there is a tendency towards advertorial – articles that are written to promote particular local businesses. This reduces the ‘news’ element in the paper. They are also full of adverts.
However, if you speak no Spanish and don’t have the internet, with some selective reading you can pick up on some pieces of Spanish news. The exact publications vary according to your area. The ones below are those available within the Costa Blanca region of the country.
Euro Weekly News: produces regional papers for Almeria, Costa Blanca, Costa del Sol and Mallorca. The paper includes a good blend of interest, leisure articles and news. The online version is available at:
Round Town News: produces papers for the Costa Blanca and Costa Calida regions. It contains a balance of local news and interest articles. The online version is available at: http://www.roundtownnews.com/
Coastrider: produces a Torrevieja and Benidorm edition. There is a reasonable balance of news and information against interest and leisure stories. The online version is at:
All the free papers report a limited range of news from the Spanish dailies. Local charities and interest stories tend to be favoured over serious news analysis of what’s happening in Spain.
Other sources of news
Another source of news in English that isn’t free is the Costa News Series. They publish Costa Blanca News, Costa Almeria News, Costa del Sol news and Costa Levante News. The paper costs 2€ and still contains advertising but to a lesser extent than the free papers. It does include more serious analysis of what’s going on in Spain and tends to announce the news first. A full online version isn’t available but you can catch some headlines at: http://www.costa-news.com/
With an increasing number of expats of other nationalities, particularly Scandinavian and Russian, more papers in other languages are becoming available. For example, for the Scandinavian market there is Spania Posten www.spaniaposten.es, Viking Posten and Magasinet.
The Costa Blanca news have now launched a sister paper aimed at the Russian market, Novosti Costa Blanca. Information about the new paper can be found at http://www.novosticosta.com/
There are a number of sites that can be accessed online that provide some coverage of what’s happening in Spain. The English translation of El País has already been mentioned. It is a very good site that can keep you in touch with most breaking Spanish news. http://elpais.com/elpais/inenglish.html.
‘The Local’ describes itself as ‘Spain’s news in English’. It does feature the latest pieces of news as well as other collections of articles that make interesting reading for the English-speaking community. ‘Top Ten’ articles are a particular favourite and you can enjoy various slide shows that feature aspects of Spain that you might never have thought of in this way.
If you have a particular interest in studying the Spanish news in relation to property then On The Pulse is definitely worth a visit. This website features the latest news about the Spanish property market and provides financial and economic updates. Julie Day’s blog also offers some interesting insights into life in Spain:
‘Typically Spanish’ publish the latest Spanish news on their website: http://www.typicallyspanish.com/ They include a useful Spanish Paper review section which briefly takes you through the dailies’ main headlines. Quite a useful sweep that means you can compare coverage of stories and identify political leanings too.
You can find some limited coverage of Spanish news in The Guardian’s online site: http://www.theguardian.com/world/spain It’s part of their world news series and although interesting and reliable, it is not extensive.
So, the streets might not be awash with the latest information in English but there are plenty of sources for those who want to keep up-to-date. Being aware of what’s happening around you throws insight onto the colourful stories and misinformation that abound. Take time to find out more and deepen your experience of Spain.