2015 Feature, Large Newsroom finalist

Spain: 253 Billion Euros Under the Table

El Mundo

Feature, Large Newsroom


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About the Project

In Spain the black market moves 253 billion euros a year, up to 24% of the country’s GDP. That’s 253 billion euros that don’t make their way to state coffers in a country riddled with unemployment and poverty. Every morning Spaniards wake up stricken with some news headline about corruption, most of them also know someone working in the black market.

Victims of unemployment or citizens with no morals? El Mundo’s special reports team decided to delve into this painful reality and try to portray what kind of society Spain is building for the future.

We researched for months, talking to all the parties implicated in the issue. It was a hard task. People don’t want to publicly admit that they take part in an illegal activity, and the Government is not interested in openly estimating the black market’s impact on the real economy has not taken a hard stance against it.

We combined different kinds of multimedia resources to expose the situation to our readers. For example, we created an interactive graphic that mixed audio and illustration to present the stories of black market workers who didn’t want to show their faces on camera; piercing testimonies that reflect a disheartening reality familiar to many in Spain but rarely told in detail in the media.

We talked to tax inspectors and union members who gave us the figures that the Government doesn’t want to publish. With their help, we analyzed how the black market operates, what are the main sectors involved in the informal economy and what is their specific weight around the country. We went through the legislative gaps that allow labor fraud and tax evasion and we created interactive infographics and animated videos to make the topic livelier and easier to understand. We also provided a tax calculator so readers in the working within the black market could estimate how much it would cost them to leave the underground economy.

In sum, an extensive reporting effort to reveal one of the main black holes in Spain’s society.