Interview by Nancy Todd
The Rough Guide states that The Olive Press is the best English newspaper in Southern Spain. The newspaper covers local news from Costa del Sol and Andalucia in general, plus national news from around Spain. The editor, entrepreneur, and visionary for The Olive Press, is Jon Clarke. He moved to Madrid in 1991 for two years to work as an English teacher and after returning to the UK for a successful career in journalism (Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, Sunday Telegraph), he returned to Spain with his wife in 2001. He started as a stringer for the national newspapers back home, and has since launched the Olive Press and had two children.
Please describe your role with The Olive Press.
I am Editor and owner of the paper.
l. What is the most satisfying part of your work?
I receive satisfaction by seeing the paper expand so fast (70 per cent in turnover and numbers last year) and enjoy the appreciation of the readers. It is the only newspaper of its type in Spain, ie with proper trained journalists, that actually investigates crime and wrong-doing, and I feel that is a key part of our success. Even though the recession is hitting Spain hard, ad revenues and readership continues to increase.
2. The Olive Press is a hard copy and also an online publication. How do you see future changes with the internet affecting your paper?
By embracing both mediums we will continue to expand well and our readership is already probably around 50% online and 50% hard copy. I don’t see newspapers disappearing but evolving and being more creative. There is certainly a role for them, whether they are read on paper or virtually. I find it incredible that in such a short space of time we have found around 40,000 people downloading each issue online. That is more than the papers we print, and is clearly demonstrating the changes today. We are certainly looking at expanding to cover all of Spain eventually and with this medium we are already sort of doing that.
We have grown a lot. The first office was in Granada and now a second one in Ronda. Two issues are published a month with an online readership running well over 100,000 visitors a month.
3. What overlooked gems in your region would you recommend to visitors?
Andalucia is the most varied region in Europe producing wines, sherries, of course oranges, plus other fruits and vegetables, olive oil. There are extraordinary wild escapes in this region: Cazora, Almeria, with rugged natural, unspoiled land. Laws are lax with lots of corruption and a lot of land has been ruined. The Freedom Of Information law will be enacted next year which will enable people to find out more about planning. Hiking and cycling are important touristically for Ronda.
4. What challenges have you encountered living in Spain?
I have lived in spain for 10 years and have integrated well with the Spanish language. There are environmental challenges like the crazy plan to build a railway line for freight through the Ronda area, plus plans to allow more building on the coastlines. Spain is still a relatively young democracy and so the necessary checks on this type of expansion are not 100 per cent in place yet, but they are coming. What is good is that the press is finally able to report at least on the horrific corruption Spain has suffered from. Cases like Malaya, the ERE scandal in Sevilla at the Junta and now, of course, the King’s son-in-law Urdangarin.
5. What are your favorite foods?
We have just launched a new food and travel website called www.diningsecretsofandalucia.com. The idea is to help people find the very best of where to eat in Andalucia. It spins off a book I had published two years ago and is completely interactive with the public. It is everything from the best Michelin starred joints to some fabulous ‘secret’ local ventas and fish restaurants. I personally love the local Jamon Iberico and goat cheese from the mountains where I live, especially the incredible Payoyo from Grazalema.