Mundo, El

Mundo, El
   El Mundo, a daily newspaper published in Madrid with a national readership throughout Spain, is attempting to establish itself as a source of modern investigative journalism.
   El Mundo was founded in 1989 and is, therefore, by some distance the youngest of Spain's national daily newspapers. It is clearly attempting to define itself as the most modern and forward-looking of the national dailies, as evinced by its current masthead El Mundo del Siglo Veintuno (The World of the Twenty-First Century). It is, like most Madrid dailies, roughly tabloid in format and is a substantial read, often totalling as many as eighty pages. It combines extensive international coverage with in-depth reporting on Spain, as well as fairly hefty business and sports sections.
   Although it could not be described as sensationalist, El Mundo has a clear preference for controversial issues. In fact, it has attempted to establish a reputation as a newspaper committed to fearless investigative journalism. It attracted considerable opprobrium from many sectors of Spanish society for critical reports on certain activities of King Juan Carlos I at a time— shortly after the Barcelona Olympic Games— when the King's popularity throughout Spain, and the general level of adulation in the media, was at an all-time high. El Mundo has resolutely refused to apologize for these reports, and has defended them as its right in an open and democratic society. It has also been much involved in the unmasking of political corruption in Spain, sometimes in operations reminiscent of the unravelling of the Water-gate conspiracy, a process which has gained its editor, Pedro Ramírez, both fame and notoriety. Though the targets of these investigations have been politicians from the socialist PSOE, there seems little doubt that El Mundo would have pursued these issues whichever party had been in power.
   As well as counting some of Spain's best known journalists on its staff, El Mundo also features some of the country's best known columnists—notably Francisco Umbral—whose highly literate and linguistically innovative pieces are often viewed as a model of pioneering journalistic style. Indeed, Umbral's back-page column is often breathtaking in its manipulation of the Spanish language, and likewise presupposes a generally highly educated and linguistically responsive reader. There is little doubt that El Mundo is something of a success story in Spanish print journalism. Despite its recent entry into the market, its current sales are just under 400,000 per day, putting it very much in the top flight of daily newspapers in Spain. To read El Mundo is to some extent to define oneself as up-to-date, unencumbered not only with the Francoist past, but even with the more recent past of the transition to democracy, and to be committed to a critical attitude to all social institutions, however revered they may be by other sections of society. Despite its occasional lapses into somewhat overheated reporting, its future would seem to be assured.
   HUGH O'DONNELL

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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