Skip to Content
Skip to Search
Skip to Navigation
Skip to Content

University of Connecticut University Libraries

Exhibit: Paseo por el Periodismo: A history of Journalism in Latin America and Spain

by Darlene Hull (c. 1999)

1.The period between the introduction of printing into Spain and 1800 had seen the birth of communication by print in the form of relaciones which recorded events of unusual interest or importance in a context that was isolated, both historically and physically. By the middle of the 17th century, there had been sporadic attempts to systematize the dissemination of information in a periodical form.

2.In 1661, Francisco Fabro Bremundan, appointed as editor by Juan José of Austria, the bastard son of Philip IV, published the first issue of the Gazeta Nueva (Madrid, 1661) under the title, "Relación o Gazeta de Algunos Casos particulares, assi Políticos, como Militares, sucedidos en la mayor parte del Mundo, hasta fin de Diziembre de 1660 ("Account or Gazette of Some Special Things, Political as well as Military, which occurred in the greater part of the World up to the end of December of 1660"). It began: "Inasmuch as in the most populous cities of Italy, Flanders, France and Germany there are printed each week (in addition to the Relaciones of special events) others with the title Gazettes, in which is given news of the most notable things, Political as well as Military, which have occurred in the greater part of the globe, there is reason that this kind of printed matter be introduced into Spain, if not every week at least every month so that the curious may have word of said events, and the Spaniards not lack the news which abounds in Foreign Nations. And, as for the first, we shall begin with the Provinces of Italy."

3.During the 18th century, the influence of French periodicals on the Spanish Press became marked, especially in the proliferation of papers dealing with literature, the arts, and the sciences. The nation's first dailies were founded and the press as business, dedicated to the improvement of the nation's economy, became a part of the fabric of commercial life. Concurrent with the growth of the press was an increasing official awareness of the press's potential as a channel for, or originator of, ideas hostile to the ruling powers. The increase in the number of publications affected the complexity of controls regulating them. Most that survived usually had either profited from an official subsidy like the General de España or had assumed a more or less official character such as the Gaceta de Madrid, reflecting the value the monarchy attached to mass communications.

4.In 1737, a group of writers interested in reforming the decadent literature of the 18th century published a magazine which gained the protection of Philip IV. This publication was called Diario de los Literatos de España (Madrid, 1737-1742). The Diario modeled itself after the Parisian Journal de Savants, which appeared 62 years prior, and its goal was to "reduce to summary the writings of Spanish authors and judge their works." Founded in the following year, 1738, was the Mercurio Histórico y Político (Madrid, 1738-1830). Both the Diario and the Mercurio were typical of their times. They were products of the intellectual climate which produced the English encyclopedias and was to produce the great French encyclopedists. They reflected a strong French influence which had been introduced into the country at the turn of the century with Philip V, a Frenchman of the Bourbon dynasty, on the Spanish throne.

5. The major work of journalism of the second half of the 18th century was that of Nipho, one of the towering figures of Spanish journalism and the dominant influence on the Spanish press for more than three decades.

6. Diario Estrangero (Madrid, 1763) was devoted to culture, having two sections: "Literary news devoted in various issues to discussions of morals, economics, political philosophy, and jurisprudence and "Fashionable news" which served as a sounding board for Nipho's comments on the theater.)

7. Correo General de España (Madrid, 1770-1771). It was the first paper to receive a government subsidy. It had a very broad program including the encouragement of the arts, the extension of commerce, stimulation of industry, the progress of agriculture and the vigor of science. One of its essential and continuing features was a series of detailed reports on the agricultural, commercial, and industrial capabilities and potential of all regions of Spain.

8. Correo de Madrid o de los Ciegos (Madrid, 1786-1791). Its title, Post of Madrid, or of the Blind," owed itself to the new circulation technique innovated in Spain by Nipho - street sales, which were entrusted to the sightless.

9. Among a few other newspaper founders at work in Spain during the Nipho years was José de Clavijo y Fajardo who began a weekly called El Pensador in 1762 and became editor of the Mercurio Histórico y Político when that monthly was made an official publication in 1773.

10. In the 1790's privilegios reales were granted to a variety of Diarios (Dailies).

11. Diario de Valencia (Valencia, 1790-1835)

12. Diario Histórico y Político de Sevilla (Seville, 1792-93)

13. Diario de Barcelona (Barcelona, 1792-in operation) This is Catalonia's first daily and the oldest privately owned paper still published in Spain.

14. The 19th century was marked not only by the Napoleonic invasion but also by great internal strife. The beginning years of the century saw an end to the "traditional" press and the birth of the "revolutionary" press. The press became bound up in the politics of the period, not as an observer and recorder of events, but as a partisan instrument of opinion formation. In general, the Spanish press of the 19th century served the interests of group ideologies or for personal gains. In 1810, even before a constitution had been drawn up for the nation, the press was granted complete freedom, a condition compatible with the liberal beliefs of the men to whom the Napoleonic invasion and occupation had given an opportunity to rechannel the national political tradition. However, the freedom granted in 1810 was short-lived. In 1814, Ferdinand repudiated the constitutional form of government and restored his won absolute rule. The transition was violent, an abrupt reversal of the position of the press. Almost overnight, the press pendulum had swung from unrestricted freedom to rigorous control. During the next fifty years, similar swings followed every change of government, liberal administrations permitting the press to operate freely; authoritarian regimes imposing controls. The most vocal , controversial, and tendentious segment of the press was the political press. In numbers it was not the largest group of newspapers, there were more literary, artistic, economic, and scientific periodicals than political papers, but it was the segment which attracted the attention of those in power or those who aspired to power. For the next fifty years of intermittent freedom, the press did not achieve an existence independent of the political establishment.

15. Mercurio de España (Madrid, 1738-1830) and Crónica Científica y Literaria (Madrid, 1817-1820) were the only two newspapers to receive authorization to publish during a very restrictive period between 1815 and 1817.

16. Crónica Científica y Literaria (Madrid, 1817-1820) was begun by José Joaquin de Mora as a non-political semiweekly which he then converted into the liberal El Consitutional (Madrid, 1820). Mora was granted a privilegio to publish a newspaper despite his liberal politics. In official eyes his political credentials had been somewhat refurbished by his detention in a French prison during the occupation and his subsequent escape to London where he published a Spanish-language periodical.

17.During the French occupation one of the first acts was the subjugation of the Spanish press to the needs of the occupiers. The French, versed in press manipulation, used the press as a vehicle for propaganda. This concept long outlived the Napoleonic invasion in Spain.

18. Subversive periodicals appeared with anti-French propaganda setting off uprising in Madrid and resistance throughout the country. As power shifted back to the Spanish, the press took the opportunity to publish newspapers devoted to the liberal doctrine and opposing the French.

19. The first issue of the Seminario Patriótico (Madrid, 1808. Seville, 1809. Cadiz, 1810-1812) for September, 1, 1808, proclaimed its editors convention that "well-directed periodical papers must be torches for illuminating the countryside, not firebrands for igniting disorder or discord, nor even less vile agitators destined to trick the people or cause them to become infatuated with idols of fortune."

20.The new Ley de Libertad de Imprenta appearing on October 19,1810, touched off a flurry of newspaper ventures, competition for readers, and editorial excesses. The liberal press was very aggressive, lashing out against national traditions and the Church. Among some of the newspapers of the period of the Cortes de Cádiz were El Redactor General, El Conciso, Diario Mercantil de Cádiz, Robespierre Español, Amigo de las Leyes, and Procurador General de la Nación y del Rey.

21. El Conciso (Cádiz 1810-1813) was run by Gaspar María de Ogirando, a one-time translator of French liberal and revolutionary literature. The coverage of the war and the debates in the Cortes were accurate and succinct, but it ridiculed the Church, which it characterized as a mixture of "sordid interests, ominous egoism and crafty hypocrisy."

22. El Redactor General (Cádiz, 1811-1813) founded by Pedro Daza Guzmán, who was among the first newspaper owners in Spain to consider a periodical a business operation. Guzmán, reacting against newspapers which bore the imprint of one man and reflected only his opinions, gathered together an editorial staff of top writers, including five deputies, who lent the liberal cause, as stated in the paper, an air of dispassionate logic.

23. Diario Mercantil de Cádiz (Cádiz,1802-1813) dated from 1802 and, in its first years, was purely commercial in orientation. In 1808, it took its first political stand, a traditionalist, conservative position. However, with the rise of the liberal spirit in Cádiz, the Diario changed direction and became an important liberal organ, vying with El Conciso in attacks on the Church and traditional values.

24. Robespierre Español, Amigo de las Leyes (Cádiz, 1811-1813) was published by Pedro Pascasio Fernández Sardino, a military medical officer. It served as a voice for Fernández Sardino's political ideology, which was based on the most radical ideas of the French Revolution, and carried little news. Fernández Sardino had the distinction of being the sole newspaper proprietor punished by the government during the meeting of the Cortes in Cádiz, being placed under arrest for a short time because of his criticism of the conduct of Spanish officers during the battle for Badajoz.

25. El Procurador General de la Nacián y del Rey (Cadiz, 1812-13. Madrid, 1814) was the mouthpiece of Ferdinand. The King's Council underwrote its expenses with a monthly subsidy of 1,000 pesetas. In March, 1813, the existence of the subsidy was discovered by a liberal deputy who denounced the newspaper to the Cortes as a seditious, subversive publication. Its editors fled from Spain to avoid trial and almost certain imprisonment.

26. On June 1, 1820, Javier de Burgos led a return of the press to the political arena by substituting política for artes in the title of his newspaper, making it the Miscelánea de Comercio, Política, y Literatura. (Madrid, 1820-1821)

27. El Conservador (Madrid, 1820) was founded by one of the so-called sociedades patrióticas, political groups stemming from the nucleus of informal discussion groups in Madrid cafés.

28.The secret organization named the Comuneros or Hijos de Padilla was founded in late 1820 to further political and social revolution by any means, however extreme, that might prove effective. The Church was one of its prime targets. Among some of the titles published by this organization are El Eco de Padilla (Madrid, 1821), El Independiente (Madrid, 1822), and El Zurriago (Madrid, 1821-1823). El Zurriago (The Whiplashing) was the most violent, yet typical of the extremist press of the period attacking the Church, the monarchy, the liberal government, and the constitution. It immediately declared itself enemy of the official papers.

29.La Tercerola, (Madrid, 1822) edited in the same press as El Zurriago, almost exclusively reproduced documents against Ferdinand VII to show the moral incapacity of the King. This issue stressed the antagonisms among the liberal groups fighting in the Cortes and emphasized the bold position of the extremists.

30. La Censura Periódica (Madrid, 1822) defended the Constitution, the constitutional authorities, and represented a toned-down liberalism.

31. El Censor (Madrid, 1820-1822) claimed to be published "by the authority of the people in a constitutional system." In the October 7, 1820 issue the editors cruelly poked fun at popular sovereignty praised by the extremists.

32. The journalistic movement was no less active in the provinces.

33. El Amolador (Valencia, 1822) from Valencia declared itself "gorro" and in support of El Zurriago.[It appears this term gorro can symbolize free or freedom. A reference found in Diccionario Manual e Ilustrado de la Lengua Español (Madrid, 1927) describes a cap worn in the Frigia region of ancient Asia that was an emblem of freedom. Further references describe that this style cap was adopted by French Revolutionaries in 1793 and later by the Spanish Republicans.]

34. In Palma in 1823 Diario Patriótico de la Unión Española was published with the emphatic motto: "Constitution or Death."

35. El Plutón (Granada,1822-1823)

36. In 1822 the King published a newspaper of his own to counter the liberal press. The tone of El Procurador General del Rey (Madrid, 1822-1823) was set by its subtitle which read, "written at the beginning of the third year of the second captivity of señor Ferdinand VII, legitimate sovereign of Spain, and during the fatal crisis of the frightful persecution of altar and Throne..." Ferdinand also published and subsidized El Restaurador (Madrid, 1823-1824). In the prospectus, El Restaurador promised its readers that "with the aid given by good Spaniards and the authentic news items which the Spaniards may obtain from their provincial correspondents, we will outline hereafter the tragic history of the assassinations, fires, robberies, sackings, violences, injustices, and confusions of the revolutionaries, because nothing is more important than that the people know completely the atrocities of the revolution and the deeds of the principal leaders so that they may profit by the lesson and detest them."

37. After the 1823 proclamation of Ferdinand and the return to absolutism, freedom of the press was officially dead. Only a few "official" papers continued like the Diario de Madrid. For several decades liberty of the press came and went. Privilegios (authorization to publish) were granted to a very limited amount of papers other than official ones. Starting in 1830 a slight rebirth of papers occurred. In 1831 the King granted a privilegio to publish Cartas Espanolas (Madrid, 1831-1832) a weekly which reported on cultural matters with an elegance not yet seen in the Spanish press. It was the first periodical in the nation to use engravings with regularity.

38.From the mid 1830s into the mid 1860s bourgeois Spanish liberalism was developing and romanticism reached its peak. All varieties of romanticism appeared on the scene from the most radical to the most conservative; from socialistic utopia to monarchic Christianity. The return of the liberal extremists from exile marked a new era with new ideas. The old liberals defended English romanticism while others defended the more widely-accepted French ideals. This mix of theories had a great influence on the diverse literary schools that were being founded during the period. They influenced the schools' close ties with the political, social, and economic development of the country. The Carlist wars, the disentailment of Mendizábal (prime minister), the railroads of Sartorius and Salamanca, were successive events that influenced this generation of intellectuals. From radical romantics who sympathized and participated in the revolutionary struggle to the most conservative, all the country's intellectuals collaborated in the work of national reconstruction.

39. El Jorobado, periódico político-satírico (Madrid, 1836) was a liberal-conservative newspaper. Its articles attacked the Eco de Comercio (Madrid, 1834-1839), the secret societies, and Mendizábal. It talked about an anarchist party that promoted dissension and revolts.

40. El Seminario Pintoresco Español (Madrid, 1936-1957) and El Dómine Lucas (Madrid, 1844-1846) were two of the most spirited periodicals of the time. Published by large groups of radical romanticists, they defended the idealistic novel and liberal democracy. They attacked the Church, economic inequality, and Carlism, often in poetic compositions that expounded the point of view of the most radical ideologists. This color copy of El Dómine Lucas is apparently very rare.

41. Revista Gaditana (Cádiz, 1839-1840) disseminated advice and information on a variety of aspects of agriculture including cultivation and machinery. It was most important for its study of agrarian problems and proposals for agrarian reforms.

42. The sole purpose of such periodicals as El Papamoscas y su Tío (Madrid, 1848) was to lure converts to specific political parties. All articles, advertisements, or poems published were instruments for the political struggle. Papamoscas was the voice of a group of radical democrats. It's subtitle was "periodico de los pobres" (journal of the poor). This ironic "carta" (letter) attacks the ruling classes.

43. El Fandango (Madrid, 1844-1846) was satirical, burlesque, purely Spanish, written in prose and verse with many woodcut caricatures. It disseminated the works of Ayguals y Sué as well as pieces in favor of the idealistic novel, social costumbrismo, and phrenology. Among the most significant stories is Los dos pronunciados which highlights the evolution and changes of the liberals of 1820, from a progressive and radical ideology, to those of the 1840s, a time of military uprisings and political opportunism.

44. Fray Gerundio. Revista Europea (Madrid, 1848-49) is a good representation of Spanish utopian socialism. It defends the existence of associations, industrialization, and agricultural development. It represents a militant republicanism defending private property and the family, and seeks to organize society under more egalitarian criteria. However, it does attack socialist revolution and criticizes the communist and socialist ideologies of the Utopian French and English.

45. Fray Supino Claridades (Madrid, 1855) was a political-satirical publication similar to Fray Gerundio. Among its most interesting articles is Los Menestrales which points out the hunger and misery of the marginal social classes. The work attempts to attract the attention of the government in hopes that they will "raise the flag of rational liberty and justice."

46. El Seminario Popular (Madrid, 1862-1865) was important for publishing works about foreign culture and literature. The introduction claims its purpose was to inform on scientific and industrial news and disseminate the knowledge of other nations. However, El Seminario went on to publish mainly literary criticism and translations of foreign literature.

47. La Tertulia de Cádiz (Cádiz, 1848-1851) published a variety of works, without distinction to topic or political affiliation, but itself had an obviously moderate orientation. One of its proposed objectives was to educate women and to do so published much literature, history, and political news. Worth mentioning are the articles it published dedicated to explaining socialism.

48. El Trueno (Madrid, 1840-1841) defended the conservative spirit of various important peninsular regions. (e.g., Andalucia, Barcelona). Also important were a variety of articles in which the editors defined, with great precision, the differences between political revolution and social revolution.

49. El Cangrejo (Madrid, 1841), which supported a constitutional monarchy, was part of the extremist press and brutally attacked Espartero, the new Regent of Spain.

50. La Gorda (Madrid, 1868-1870) was a satirical paper that attacked the work of the Cortes and the government in verse and burlesque articles.

51. La Ilustración Republicana Federal (Madrid, 1871-1872) defended workers rights and the right to strike at the same time it urged Republicans to rise up against the government. The verse, La Gloriosa, published in the August 27, 1871 issue, summarized the point of view of the Republicans of the period.

52. The close relationship of the press and the political system was very apparent in the composition of the provisional government set up after the Revolution of 1868. Over half of the civilians in the government had been closely identified with the practice of journalism. With the success of the revolution and the restoration of freedom to the press, new papers appeared at the fastest clip in Spanish history. In 1876, the last constituent Cortes of the century met to draw up the fundamental laws for the new regime. The constitution was conservative, yet conciliatory. Among other things, it provided for the right of all Spaniards "to express freely their ideas and opinions, both orally and in writing, using the press or other similar methods of dissemination without being subject to previous censorship." In theory, the press was free and would remain so until the pronunciamento of Miguel Primo de Rivera in 1923. Similarly in the 20th century, as was true throughout Spain's history, a free press and a rigid political system could not exist simultaneously for any length of time. Despite constitutional guarantees of free speech, government controls were imposed on the nation's periodicals.