The short history of digital native media in Spain: similarities and differences between Spanish and European success stories


Historically, journalism has been evolving and adapting to the characteristics of the environment in which it has had to operate (Menke et al., 2016). Since the mid-1990s, it has been many the journalistic initiatives that have entered the web environment, either as a continuation of brands already consolidated in conventional formats or as native projects of the new medium (Cottle & Ashton, 1999). In Spain, the online media scene has just completed its first quarter century of life (Salaverría et al., 2019).

This communicative space offers manifold new opportunities for professionals and news outlets (Fortunati et al., 2009). Thus, over the last few years we have witnessed the appearance of new online media with diverse nature: from local media with coverage of proximity to others with an international reach. And all this by exploiting the functionalities of the web (Mannovich, 2008) for the creation of generalist and/or specialized spaces.

This said, the aim of this proposal is to present the evolution of the digital native media in Spain in order to compare their current situation with European success stories. In the first place, it will be presented a historical overview among the first Spanish digital native initiatives, describing their evolution and also their main features and properties -specialized media, general media, nationally or locally focused, business models-.

This study -part of an R&D project on the evolution of the digital native media in Europe- is based on an assumption: that, at the present time, Spanish digital native media of reference do not have a structural capacity, a business model and mechanisms for audience participation that can be compared to similar initiatives born in the main European countries. For that purpose, we have conducted a case study of three Spanish digital native media of success,, and elespañ— and also a parallel case study of three European online natives of reference, both in their respective countries and in their organization and business models -Mediapart, De Correspondent, and Tortoise Media—.

The findings of this research, in which has been used the case-study method and also comparative analysis, make it possible to identify several commonalities between the Spanish online media and the three European cases examined. In this sense, it has been possible to notice how in the foreign analyzed examples the income from membership fees have a greater weight in the media budget, as opposed to Spain.

With regard the possibilities of user participation, it will be further detailed the options offered by each of the six media. Thus, it will be possible to compare those models that seek to create community, such as the experiences proposed by Tortoise Media, to others that simply want to get the user feedback for the published information.

Therefore, the outcomes of this research will serve to understand what the progress of the Spanish digital native media has been by studying its evolution through 25 years of history until the current moment of successful initiatives and comparing this with models of success in Europe.