Maruxa Ruiz del Árbol is one of the London correspondents for Spain’s highest selling daily paper El Pais. She also writes for Cinco Dias, the leading financial newspaper in the country as well as Tiempo and Dominical, two influential weekly magazines. Her reports on child soldiers in the Congo won the 2010 Codespa Award.
Born in Madrid, in 1983, she’s lived in London since 2009. She speaks fluent Italian, English and, of course, Spanish. She studied journalism at Madrid’s Oxbridge-style Complutense University and her first paid work was writing up a European rail journey for Spain’s Via Libre.
After graduation in 2007 she applied for and joined the El Pais masters programme – an in-house course taught by El Pais journalists. ‘I learned to write first hand from old school journalists such as Ángel Santa Cruz or Miguel Ángel Bastenier,’ she recalls. ‘I still hear their voices in my mind each time I find myself making flaccid mistakes like delivering colour anecdotes without getting into the substance of news - something Santa Cruz detested - or filling space with empty words.’
She was inspired in all of this by her father, El Pais journalist Antonio Ruiz del Árbol. Her earliest memories are of him phoning sources at breakfast orcoming home exhausted
after ‘closing the newspaper’ – sending down the final edition. ‘Yes, I’m the daughter of a journalist - a good one,’ she says firmly.
She worked on El Pais until the financial crisis hit in 2009. With jobs scarce in Madrid, she caught a plane to London and the world of freelancing. ‘My working day is split between the street and the office,’ she explains. ‘It’s a pioneer coworking space - an office, open 24/7, where I share time, contacts and ideas with 16 other freelance journalists. The newsrooms where I learnt the job are being dismantled and transformed by the crisis and I have taken an alternative path, no less uncertain but as rewarding.’