Globe, Independent Media Association – IMA, Migrants, Multiculture, Our People, United Kingdom

A Spanish media for the Spanish-speaking diaspora in the UK

Paco de la Coba, a Spanish journalist, arrived in the UK at the age of 23 and noticed that the Spanish diaspora did not have its own newspaper, as was the case with the Brazilian, Indian, Polish or Chinese diaspora. So he decided to launch El Ibérico, which celebrates its 14th anniversary this May.  Series “Journalists and immigrants in the UK”.


Paco de la Coba.

Zalayka Azam


Leaving his home in Spain in 2006, Paco was young and wanted to pursue more opportunities outside his country, which led him to Nottingham, UK, where he got his first job working as a kitchen porter in a hotel.

During this time encountered racial discrimination for not speaking proper English. However, after his co-workers acknowledged his hard work as an employee, they apologised for having prejudged him. After living in the UK for a year, Paco moved to Aix-en-Provence (France) as part of the “Leonardo da Vinci” programme to do his internship. He spent a year there before returning to London in 2008.

A couple of years went by in which he was a correspondent for various Spanish and Latin American media, did an internship at the BBC and was hired as an editor at a Latin American newspaper in the British capital. It was a time when he combined journalism with working as a dishwasher in a restaurant at night, and so, between dreams and plans, he decided that it was time to do something different.

Then he began to think of a media outlet to keep Spanish and Latin American immigrants up to date on British current affairs and on the large number of activities and events that the communities themselves organise in London (concerts, conferences, exhibitions…). By then there were already some Spanish-language media aimed at Latin Americans, but the Spanish community did not have a voice in the information market.

This is how, in 2010, El Ibérico Gratuito was created “to give a voice to Spanish-speaking communities”. The first printed edition was launched in 2010. From then on for 8 years, every fortnight El Ibérico printed 5,000 copies, publishing 200 editions in total. But in 2018, Paco decided to leave the printed version and move to the digital world, on which he has been concentrating all his efforts until today.

Today it is an online media outlet receiving thousands of daily visitors from other countries, as well as the UK.

A dream come true

In the first stages of producing El Ibérico, Paco admits it was “very difficult” to generate funding for his ideas to come to fruition. Starting the newspaper in 2010 and after going digital, the funding originated from “100% advertising”. With the newspaper now online, he mentions how they sell “digital space” for companies to advertise, which is how they currently generate their funding.

“I started the newspaper from my apartment with a computer. When I finished it, I made a sketch of the newspaper on cardboard and went to see several companies looking for funding. I finally found one, a company that makes international money transfers. It was my first customer and thanks to their sponsorship, I was able to print the first six editions,” he recalls.

With around 200,000 Spanish nationals living in the UK, Paco developed El Ibérico to foster a global diaspora among immigrants, keeping them up to date on Spanish culture in London while also “providing a sense of happiness to the reader” by avoiding a heavy focus on war and politics. In fact, the newspaper does not stop at news, but also offers competitions, advice, concert tickets, and more.

Connecting Spanish-speakers

He highlights the feeling of being disconnected from your nation after moving to another country, which is why the media organisation was founded to maintain a sense of community for Spaniards living outside Spain, but also for Latin Americans.

Today, almost fifteen years later, El Ibérico is more than just a Spanish newspaper for the Spanish, as Latin Americans also read it and find out about the city, the country and many other things. It is a brand that will soon launch a new luxury magazine in June. In the meantime, Paco moves between Spain and London. In fact, midway through the video-call interview and pointing to the ground, he reveals that he returned to his home country in 2018 after going digital with his newspaper. El Ibérico’s founder says that “the freedom of having it online allows me to work remotely and travel while still prioritising time for my kids.”

Media and migrants

Knowing both the UK and Spain well also allows him to reflect on what is happening with the media, freedom of the press and immigrants.

He also highlights contrasts in freedom of speech between the UK and Spain. “The British are more honest with information,” while Spain has more corruption in the relationship between the media and the government.

He also claims that discrimination in London compared to Nottingham is non-existent, as Londoners are “more open-minded”. In fact, in his journalistic practice he has not felt discriminated against and has always been invited to press conferences and national coverage events.

This has been the case since he launched El Ibérico. Of course, this changed, but not because of the host country, but because Paco himself “grew tired” of this lifestyle, which was when he decided to move with his family back to Alicante, as it was “too difficult to raise a family” in London.

(Photos provided by the interviewee and authorised for publication)

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