Coverage of Catalonia in the international press returned to its upward trend in 2023

DIPLOCAT has published a study on the coverage and portrayal of Catalonia in 10 major international newspapers over the past year

Since 2019, DIPLOCAT has been monitoring coverage of Catalonia in 10 major international newspapers: The Washington Post and The New York Times (United States), The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph (United Kingdom), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany), Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica (Italy), and Le Figaro and Le Monde (France). The company Rebold was commissioned to carry out the 2023 study, which, in addition to measuring the coverage and mentions of Catalonia, also analyses its tone, protagonists and sources of information, among other things.

The main conclusions of the study include the following:

  • 427 news stories on Catalonia were published in the 10 newspapers analysed. This figure includes articles in which Catalonia is the main protagonist and those in which it is only mentioned. While the figure is clearly higher than in 2021 (266) and 2022 (117), it remains lower than in 2019 (584) and 2020 (1,021), years in which the consequences of the 2017 referendum and the emergence of Covid-19 dominated the news agenda. The rise in coverage compared to 2021 and 2022 is due to the key role that the Catalan political parties ended up playing in the outcome of the Spanish elections.
  • The two German newspapers accounted for 31% of the coverage, with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung accounting for 20.3% of all news mentions in 2023. Germany was followed by France (24%), Italy (19%), Great Britain (17%) and the USA (9%). In Britain, The Guardian stands out for its political reporting and generally positive tone towards Catalonia, as was the case of an editorial piece in favour of the amnesty published on 14 November, which had considerable reach.
  • Political issues account for the largest volume of news coverage (46%) concerning Catalonia. The year's most significant news impact came from the Spanish elections on 23 July (21%) and the subsequent scenario of pacts and the support extended by the Junts and Esquerra political parties to Pedro Sánchez (18%).
  • Social issues take second place (23%) due to prominent coverage of the drought and climate issues, with several news reports praising the control and savings measures adopted in Catalonia to deal with the situation. There are also reports on gastronomy and viticulture and news on legislation allowing people to go topless at public swimming pools.
  • In third place came the sports stories (18%), whether news about FC Barcelona, including the women's football team, or cycling and motorcycling races involving athletes from the respective countries, particularly Italians and the accident at Montmeló involving Pecco Bagnaia, which featured on the front page of Corriere della Sera with a shocking photograph of the moment he was run over.
  • The news stories in which a positive tone predominates are those referring to gastronomy (92%) and those prior to the Spanish elections (21%), while a negative tone is more present in the news stories about the protests against the investiture pact and the amnesty law (67%), the investiture (50%) and the impact of the drought (46%).
  • Many of the people who appear in the news about Catalonia are Spanish politicians, such as Pedro Sánchez, who occupies the top position (42%). Among the Catalans, Carles Puigdemont appears in second place (27%), Pere Aragonès and Aleix Vidal-Quadras are eighth and ninth (3%), and Oriol Junqueras is twelfth (2%).
  • In regard to other figures and as a curiosity, it's worth mentioning that Alexia Putellas and Aitana Bonmatí appear in 10th and 12th place in the sports ranking; that the MNAC got more coverage than the Sagrada Família thanks to the Franco-Spanish summit and that mentions of the Circuit de Montmeló surpassed both; that the UPC and the UAB received coverage due to contributions from their professors, and Najat el Hachmi and Jordi Puntí were the only writers in the Catalan language to appear; and that the list of musicians and artists includes figures such as Antoni Gaudí, Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Jordi Savall, Pau Casals, Rosalía, Rita Payés and Carla Simón, in that order.
  • The list of media sources mentioned in news stories referring to Catalonia is headed by El País and followed by La Vanguardia, El Mundo, ABC and El Mundo Deportivo.