Despite their questionable credibility, the media still play a key role in shaping public opinion in Spain. Nevertheless, in recent years a change in the degree of influence that each medium exerts in this opinion has been detected. There are platforms and brands that lose influence, while others gain it.
During the democratic transition, the shaping of Spanish public opinion was mainly attributed to newspapers and magazines, in what was called the "paper parliament" (Fontes & Menéndez, 2004). However, the truly hegemonic medium was television: until the arrival of private television in the 1990s, television information was in the hands of the state and some autonomous regions. The afternoon and evening editions of RTVE’s flagship news programme Telediario were the main -and often the only- vehicle through which millions of Spaniards received news. The radio also played a key informational role, thanks to the popularity and reputation of certain “anchormen” considered the most influential journalists of the country.
In the last decade of the 20th century, the arrival of private television, the concession of numerous radio frequencies and the emergence of the news media on the Internet helped to change this ratio of influences in shaping public opinion. The printed media gradually lost their previous editorial hegemony, although they managed to transfer part of that influence to their emerging digital editions. Meanwhile, the private television channels, although in their early years they showed little interest in journalism and focused on attracting the audience through entertainment content, were also gradually exploring the reef of information, mainly through social chat shows and other opinion programmes.
In the 21st century, these trends have continued, but new phenomena that are changing the relative influence in public opinion of the different media have also appeared. The most notable phenomenon is the increasing impact of digital media, both in terms of the influence of social media and with regard to the emergence of successful native Internet media (Salaverría, 2005, 2016). In 2017, Spain is one of the European countries in which the native Internet media have reached greatest diversity and, above all, greatest influence in public opinion.