Juan Luis Cebrián (1944) is a Spanish writer and journalist. The founding editor of El País, the largest global daily newspaper in Spanish, he served as the Executive Chairman of PRISA, the world’s leading news, education, and entertainment group in Iberoamérica. For years, he has been a member of the board of the Parisian newspaper Le Monde. He studied philosophy and graduated with a degree in Communications at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid. He also attended the Escuela Oficial de Periodismo (Official Journalism School).
He was a founding member of the journal Cuadernos para el diálogo (1963) and, from 1963-75, worked as Managing Editor and Deputy Editor of the Madrid newspapers Pueblo and Informaciones. He was also Director of News Services and Current Affairs at the state television broadcaster Televisión Española.
Cebrián is the founding Editor-in-Chief of El País and held the post from the outset in 1976 until 1988 when he became Chief Executive Officer of Prisa and the newspaper. Prisa is the largest group of education, media, and entertainment in Spanish and Portuguese languages. A company operating in 22 countries, including all Latam, it is a global leader in textbooks (Santillana), newspapers (El País), radio (SER in Spain, Caracol in Colombia, Iberoamericana en Chile), paid TV (Spanish Canal+), and free to air (Portuguese TVI). He served as CEO of Prisa until June 2012 when he was appointed Executive Chairman. From 1986 to 1988, he also served as President of the International Press Institute (IPI). He served as CEO at Sogecable, the TV business unit of the group, from its inception in 1989 until 1999. In 2004, he became President of the Association of Spanish Newspaper Publishers (AEDE).
While at the helm of the newspaper El País, Cebrián played a crucial role in the Spanish political transition from dictatorship to democracy. Over the course of his 50-year-long profession, Cebrián has received many prizes in journalism including the International Editor of the Year Award from the World Press Review in New York (1980); the Premio Nacional de Periodismo de España – Spain’s National Press Journalism Award (1983); the Freedom of Expression Medal from the F. D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Foundation; the Trento International Prize in Journalism and Communication (1987): and Chile’s Joaquín Chamorro Prize for Freedom of Expression.
In 1986, the University of Missouri awarded him the Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism, and in 1988 he was appointed Honorary Professor at the Universidad Iberoaméricana in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic). In 2003, he was named Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of La Plata (Argentina) and was also awarded the Medal of Merit of the Universidad Veracruzana (Mexico) for his contribution to critical thinking. He is a trustee of the Alfonso Reyes Chair at the Technological Institute of Monterrey (Mexico) and has received the dean’s medal from the University of Chile (2001). He has been a member of the Advisory Board of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures at the University of Princeton (USA) and of the Advisory Council for the degree in Journalism at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Coimbra (Portugal). He is currently a member of the board at the Edward Murrow Center at Tuft University.
Juan Luis Cebrián has also had a long career as writer and lecturer. He is the author of numerous books in the fields of journalism and political sociology including La prensa y la calle (1980), La España que bosteza (1980), Qué pasa en el Mundo (1981), Crónicas de mi País (1985), El tamaño del elefante (1987), Retrato de Gabriel García Márquez (1989), El siglo de las sombras (1994), Cartas a un joven periodista (1997), La Red (1998), El futuro no es lo que era (2001) — written with the Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González — El fundamentalismo democrático (2003) and El pianista en el burde (2009). His novels include La Rusa (1986), La Isla del Viento (1989), La Agonía del Dragón (2000) and Francomoribundia (2003). Some of his other literary works have been published in the compilations Retrato de un Siglo (1999) and De Madrid… al cielo (2000), and other essays have been included in several books such as Prensa para la democracia: reto del Siglo XXI and Transición Española. Many of these books have been translated into several languages including La Red into Chinese, and The Press and Main Street (1989, The University of Michigan Press), Red Doll (1987, Weindelfeld and Nicholson), The Piano Player in the Brothel (2011, The Overlook Press), and Primera Página (2017, Random House), a memory of his years as acting journalist, into English. He also contributed to the book Spain 1975-1980: The conflicts and Achievements of Democracy (1982, Vanderbilt University) and Spain, Studies in Political Security (1985, Georgetown University).
Juan Luis Cebrián is an Officier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France and, since 1996, a member of the Royal Spanish Academy. He has several decorations from the governments of Chile, Bolivia, and the Dominican Republic.
He has been married three times and is the father of six children and the grandfather to eight grandchildren.
Cebrián was previously a member of the 21st Century Council and the Council for the Future of Europe.