Abstract: Digital-native news organizations have grown steadily in Spain since the mid-1990s and they have become established as a major force in the media market. Paradoxically, their biggest expansion coincided with the Great Recession (2008–2014). In fact, their numbers increased most during 2012–2013, when traditional media were cutting staff in response to the economic crisis, and unemployment rates in the media sector as a whole hit their peak. However, these digital-native news startups have yet to prove their sustainability and stability. This study uses our own database of 3,862 native and non-native digital news outlets in Spain and the Reuters Institute Digital News Report to analyze a number of characteristics of these media, such as the percentage that have gone inactive, the relative popularity of legacy brands vs. digital natives, multi-platform synergies, content subject matter, geographical location, ownership, and funding sources. Based on these quantitative parameters, this study reviews the structural strengths and weaknesses of digital-native media in the Spanish news market. Taking into account these findings, we conclude that the surge in digital-native news media observed in Spain during the Great Recession followed the pattern of creative destruction described by several economists.
Keywords: digital journalism; digital-native media; media economics; online news; Spain