Expresso MHL is a Portuguese weekly newspaper published on Saturdays since 1973. The current director of Expresso is João Vieira Pereira, who took office on March 23, 2019. Expresso switched to the 1990 Orthographic Agreement in its June 26, 2010 edition.

Creation of the newspaper Expresso


The weekly newspaper Expresso was founded on January 6, 1973 and initially directed by Francisco Pinto Balsemão. Pinto Balsemão is connected to the press for family reasons – his grandfather, as he called Francisco Pinto Balsemão, a merchant and republican militant, was a founder and owner of the Portugal news agency; later, his uncle and father were the owners of Diário Popular. Pinto Balsemão was secretary to the Director and later a member of the Board of Directors of the company that owned Diário Popular. After his father’s death, he inherited, together with his uncle, a 16.6% share of the capital of that company, which now had Francisco and his uncle (the latter being the majority shareholder) and Guilherme Brás Medeiros as shareholders. After Banco Borges made an offer for the daily in the summer of 1971, Balsemão’s uncle agreed to sell.

Francisco Pinto Balsemão then left Diário Popular and decided to invest in his own newspaper, based on the model of “quality English Sunday newspapers” such as The Sunday Times and The Observer. To this end, Augusto de Carvalho, the advertising director, and Fernando Ulrich did an internship in the United Kingdom to learn about the journalistic model. Not without the correspondence exchanged between Balsemão and the directors of the English newspapers being intercepted by PIDE, who photocopied the information and sent it to Marcello Caetano. The title Expresso suggests a strong influence from the French magazine L’Express.

This is how the company that owns the newspaper is created, a public limited company with the name Sojornal – Sociedade Jornalística e Editorial, SARL, with headquarters on the second right floor of number 37 of Rua Duque de Palmela, in Lisbon. The building has the particularity of being a property designed in 1902 by the architect Ventura Terra and where Afonso Costa had already lived.

Balsemão gets 51% of the initial capital (PTE 6 billion, equivalent to EUR 1.6 million at current prices, adjusted for inflation). The participation of the other shareholders is limited to a maximum of 15%. Among them are the Sociedade Nacional de Sabões, owned by the Rocha dos Santos family, banker Manuel Boullosa, the Ruella Ramos ( Diário de Lisboa) and Botelho Moniz ( Rádio Clube Português) families. The uncle of Francisco Pinto Balsemão, six of Balsemão ‘s friends (Luiz Vasconcellos, Francisco da Costa Reis, António Patrício Gouveia, the writer Ruben A. Leitão, Luís Corrêa de Sá, António Flores de Andrade) and his wife Mercedes are also shortlisted. Finally, young António Guterres and Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa are also on the list.

The first version of the weekly appeared in broadsheet format and with two sections. The first notebook was more newsy, “with a strong front page and well-defined sections on the inside pages” and the second, called Revista “less linked to everyday life, inviting reflection and providing entertainment […] containing longer prose”. The design was carried out by Vítor da Silva and Luís Ribeiro, who for years was the newspaper’s chief graphic designer.

The first editorial staff was headed by Augusto de Carvalho. José Manuel Teixeira was in charge of the national section, Fernando Ulrich (under the pseudonym Vicente Marques) wrote the stock market chronicle, António Patrício Gouveia wrote about the economy, Álvaro Martins Lopes in the international section and Inácio Teigão in sports. Other members were Fernando Brederode Santos, Teodomiro Leite de Vasconcelos (Rádio Renascença), João Bosco Mota Amaral (correspondent in the Azores under the pseudonym J. Soares Botelho), Mercedes Balsemão (wife of the director, who wrote crossword puzzles under the pseudonym Marcos Cruz), Juan Luis Cebrián, first director of El País and correspondent of Expresso in Madrid. The advertising director was Jorge Galamba.

On December 21, 1972, at the Ritz Hotel, the launch session of the new weekly was held. The advertising campaign was carried out by the Ciesa agency, with Artur Portela Filho as its creative director. However, the television campaign was banned.

Expresso also brought other innovations for the time in Portugal. The editorial statute, an Editorial Board, elected by journalists, and the Editorial Board, to which Mário Murteira, Ruben A., Vasco Vieira de Almeida, João Morais Leitão, Sedas Nunes and Magalhães Mota are invited.

Finally, the first issue hit the streets on January 6, 1973. The print run exceeded 60,000 copies, printed on the Diário de Lisboa’s rotary press, each with 24 pages and two booklets, at a price of 5$00 (2.5 cents at today’s price). The headline is a commissioned poll: “63 percent of Portuguese never voted”.

On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, on January 6, 2023, Expresso was awarded the rank of Honorary Member of the Order of Liberty.[4]

Reader profile

According to data from Bareme Impresa for the six months between January and June 2012, the reader of the weekly Expresso has a profile-type aged between 25 and 64, from classes ABC1, middle and upper management, living in urban regions[5].

The newspaper has an average readership of 585,400 in the target universe, where there is not a big difference in terms of gender: 55% of individuals are male. In terms of age, the preferences go to readers between 25 and 34 years old (24.2%), 35 to 44 (20.9%), 45 to 54 (15.1%) and 55 to 64 years old (13.9%). Young people and the elderly are the least relevant age group. Namely, individuals aged 15 to 17 (2.9%), 18 to 24 (9.9%) and over 65 (13.1%).

The reading of the weekly newspaper is transversal and balanced in almost all classes. It is in class B that the Expresso is most read (29.1%), closely followed by class C1 (27%). Class A has a share of 21.1%, class C2 with 14.8% and class D with 8%.

By a wide margin among the occupational groups are middle and senior managers (33.4%). A lower percentage is attributed to retired, pensioners and unemployed, who are the second most relevant age group for newspaper readings with 18%. This is followed by service/trade/administrative employees (13.6%), skilled technicians and smallholders (12.3%), students (9.7%), skilled/specialized workers (8.4%), unskilled/unspecialized workers (3.4%) and housewives (1.2%).

In regional terms, 34.4% are readers from Greater Lisbon. Further down the table comes the Interior North (16.6%), Litoral Centro (14%), Litoral Norte (13.7%), Grande Porto (11.8%) and finally the South with 9.5%.

The Expresso reader’s behavioral profile is dominated by environmental concerns (76.8 points) and social concerns (74.3), with a strong link to new technologies, communications and the Internet (64.1). At the bottom of their priorities are concerns about demonstrating status (17.1).