History of International Newspapers: ABC in Spain

About the International newspaper ABC published in Spain, history and information.

ABC (Madrid, Spain)

The Past. ABC was founded as a weekly in 1903 by Torcuato de Tena y Alvarez-Ossorio. Two years later it was converted to a daily, the 1st in Spain, with a 3-column tabloid format.

From the beginning, ABC, "a newspaper of general information," stressed politics and literature. Its writing has always been considered the best in Spain, and many great Spanish writers and intellectuals have contributed to its pages. Jose Cuartero, an ABC journalist, set the tone for newspaper writing all over Spain with his precise yet expressive articles.

ABC has also included pictures, more than most European newspaper; in fact, it was the 1st in the country to use photoengravings.

The paper has always been in favor of monarchy for Spain and was taken over by the Republican Government in May, 1931, as a result of its views. In August, 1932, the Government forced the paper to suspend operations for 4 months in retaliation for its articles which urged less government censorship. Again, 4 years later, the Government intervened, occupying the building in which ABC was published and controlling the paper until Franco took over Madrid in 1939.

Like other newspapers in authoritarian countries, ABC has always suffered from repression and the editors have had to soft-pedal their stand on the monarchy. To keep the paper interesting, they have improved the quality of noncontroversial articles.

The Present. ABC is a serious paper, highly respected throughout the world, even though its editors do not have the freedom possible in more democratic countries.

Some newspaper experts feel that the lack of freedom is so inhibiting that the paper cannot, in spite of its good points, be taken seriously. One of these is Herbert Matthews, who in his book The Yoke and the Arrows: A Report on Spain (1957) said: "The Spanish press is one of the greatest insults to the intelligence of the Western world. How could it be anything else under the stultifying pressure of both an obscurantist Church and a Government which uses the press as an instrument of politics and has a horror of free expression?" Concerning Spanish journalists, he said, "Talking with one is quite a different experience from reading what he has to say."

Others feel that ABC, operating within its limits, has been able to put before the public an amazing variety of viewpoints with subtlety and restraint. In Spain, ABC is an institution. It also reaches the rest of the world through its airmail edition, which was started in 1950.

A large part of its editorial space is devoted to foreign news, which comes in from ABC foreign correspondents and from the Spanish news agency "Efe."

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