He acquired his first newspapers when he was not yet 30 years old and did so in 1978, when the Constitution was approved. Coincidence or not, Javier Moll has built one of the most important communication groups in Spain on the basis of constitutional values such as tolerance, pluralism and freedom. Today it faces the challenge of digitization with the same principles.
INFORMATION is 75 years old, almost half of them under the management of Prensa Ibérica, the group that you chair. INFORMATION, La Nueva España and Levante, three of the most important headlines of the then chain of State Social Media, were acquired by you at public auction in 1984, but six years earlier you had already taken control of the Canary Islands newspapers La Province and Diario de las Palmas. He was just over 28 years old. What drives someone so young to become an editor?
The passion that I felt from the first moment for this profession that, together with the help and support of my family and partners, helped me launch myself into such a challenge. I can say with satisfaction that 38 years later I still feel the same renewed illusion from knowledge and experience.
And the profound transformations that the world of communication has undergone since then, how have they affected the role of publishers? Has much changed or does the essence remain the same?
It has not stopped evolving since then but the essence remains the same. We have to understand that the editor is the one who facilitates the administration to make the media possible, agreeing the editorial line with the journalistic management team. Let’s not forget that the real architects of the daily life of the media are journalists.
With fifteen headlines, Prensa Ibérica is today one of the most important journalistic groups in Spain. What are the characteristics that define the Iberian Press media? Despite its diversity, with printed and digital editions in different communities, in addition to television channels and radio stations, can it be said that there is a style of journalism typical of the Iberian Press?
Yes, definitely the Iberian Press style could be summed up in putting the readers and their interests above any other consideration. This, although it sounds easy, is complex to carry out.
Iberian Press is a regional press group. Does local journalism make sense in the era of globalization?
I would say more than ever. Such is the cataract of information that reaches the citizen daily, that an independent, serious and orderly information on the information topic closest to the reader’s life and immediate interests, are of paramount importance.
The press has been one of the sectors hardest hit by the crisis. What situation is the sector in right now?
Since 2008 we have been experiencing an unprecedented crisis. The transition to digital is irreversible, although paper is still very important, it has a declining trend, while digital grows steadily. We still need to monetize the recognition that readers already give to our digital portals. It is curious to see that in England the most visited websites for immediate information are those of televisions, while in Spain they are those of newspapers.
Not only the economic crisis has hit the press. It has also been shaken by social and customs changes that have led many citizens to consider that quite a few things, including information, can be obtained for free. How can this phenomenon be combated? Can there be quality information without journalistic companies that obtain sufficient resources to maintain professional templates and provide them with the means to carry out their work?
No, I do not think it is possible to make good information at no cost. The “free everything” phenomenon forces us to create new income channels that replace the traditional ones.
In this context, in which the necessary reconversion of the media joins the general economic crisis, should the Administration design a policy of support for the Press as has been done in the case of other sectors?
I have never liked aids to the Press as a concept. I am more in favor of a regulatory framework that makes it easier for the traditional paper press to move towards digitization. For example, it does not make sense that printed newspapers bear 4% VAT while digital newspapers have 21%.
On occasions it has been able to give the impression that, unlike other business entities, in the case of the Association of Editors (AEDE) the interests of each group have weighed more than those of the industry as a whole. Has it really been like this? In any case, do you think that the Editors Association should play a more active role in defending the sector and in supporting its modernization?
Absolutely yes. Rivalry and competition between the media, which is itself healthy and positive, has sometimes hampered the solution of common problems that could be much better solved without the need to undermine free competition. That unity would give the sector greater efficiency.
What are the most important challenges that the Press faces in Spain in your opinion?
The stabilization of a business model in this digital transit in which we live, which allows us to sufficiently capitalize on new services and products.
All the headlines of Prensa Ibérica have had digital editions for years and the group pioneered the establishment of payment models for information on the internet. Do you think that printed and digital editions will live together for a long time? How do you foresee the future?
I believe paper will continue to be our main source of income for a few years. It is impossible to specify its number, but its evolution will be decreasing, unlike the digital one that is expected to evolve upward.