It was during a month of May, 44 years ago now, that EL PAÍS was born during another convulsed period of Spain’s history. Back then the country was emerging from a dictatorship and a long period of isolation from the outside world; in today’s hyper-connected planet, the current turmoil is causing havoc to our health and economic systems as the coronavirus crosses borders.
EL PAÍS is navigating these circumstances as the great Spanish-language newspaper that it is: still a print publication as it was 44 years ago, but above all a website that is updated 24 hours a day and which is covering the coronavirus crisis as a mature organization that has become a newspaper of record in the international arena.
Against this backdrop, EL PAÍS continues to reinvent itself in order to guarantee its own future: starting today, May 1, 2020, the newspaper is completing the launch of its digital subscription system – a process that took months and was delayed due to the gravity of the situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
From now on, our online readers may still browse up to 10 Spanish articles a month free of charge, and after that they will need to subscribe to enjoy unlimited access to all our content. A meter will let readers know how many articles they have read until the limit is reached. Print subscribers get free access to the digital edition without having to make any additional payments.
Exceptionally, coronavirus coverage will remain available for free, based on EL PAÍS’s foundational value of performing a public service. This includes our live blog in Spanish, which contains all the latest updates on the crisis, infographics, up-to-date statistics, articles covering government statements that directly affect citizens, and explanatory features that can help readers make informed health, financial and labor-related decisions.
A few other articles will require registration but remain available free of charge, and the English Edition of EL PAÍS will for the immediate future remain fully open to readers without the need for a digital subscription.
The first month is only €1, with no further commitment required
It is no secret that newspapers have been struggling for years to adapt to the internet revolution. Many have failed along the way, while others have sustained severe cuts to their newsrooms. Besides the effects of the 2008 economic crisis, there has been a constant drop in newspaper sales as readers increasingly migrate to digital formats, while advertising investment continues to dwindle.
The other source of income that was beginning to take shape, online advertising, has experienced a slowdown due to competition from technology platforms that practically have a monopoly on the market. That is why, even though most newspapers have been offering their digital content free of charge for years, many of them decided a long time ago to introduce digital subscription models to compensate for the change of scenario.
First it was the business dailies such as The Wall Street Journal or the Financial Times. But the turning point for general-interest newspapers was probably 2011, when The New York Times launched its tremendously successful digital subscription system. A lot of things had changed by then. Broadband speeds, improved payment systems and smartphones had transformed the landscape, making things easier for readers willing to support journalism projects. And in the case of the NYT, there was another factor: the election of Donald Trump as US president, a fact that triggered a massive reaction among many readers who decided to support the newspaper. Faced with a world increasingly filled with hoaxes and unverified information, readers were hungry for facts and professional standards of journalism.
Online readers may still browse up to 10 articles a month free of charge
On March 8, EL PAÍS took a first step, offering readers the possibility of subscribing. The initiative met with a positive response, as thousands of people subscribed even though there was still unlimited free access to our digital content. Maintaining a global newsroom with more than 400 journalists, the largest network of Spanish-language correspondents in the world, and teams of specialists who are more relevant than ever – experts in health, in science, in education, in economy, in politics, in data, in graphs and multimedia, to name a few examples – is a tremendous but necessary effort that is inseparable from EL PAÍS’s strategy.
The coronavirus pandemic is the latest obstacle on the rocky road that newspapers have been going down for over a decade. Readers who wish to support this project can do so for €10 a month. The first month costs just €1, with no further commitment required. There is also an option for a one-year subscription of €108 in Spain, which comes with a complimentary Google Home Mini smart speaker, or €96 elsewhere in the world.
Besides getting unlimited access to our content, subscribers will be the only ones who can comment on EL PAÍS articles, with the goal of building a critical, constructive and non-toxic community. The reading experience will have reduced advertising, and there will be three simultaneous access points in order to enjoy the content on various devices.
English version by Susana Urra.