Catalonia through the eyes of the international media


In just a few months, Catalonia has gone from begging for a small corner of the international section to making the front pages of some of the most influential international newspapers, from the Financial Times to The Washington Post. In the eyes of the world, Catalonia has gone from being just another Spanish region to a nation with serious possibilities of becoming an independent state. Let’s not forget: it was just one year ago that the only times Catalonia would appear in international news stories were in those focused on FC Barcelona and, with a bit of luck, a travel piece or two on Gaudí, the Sagrada Família and the attractiveness of the city of Barcelona. I say with a bit of luck because most of the time these articles would focus on stereotypes such as paella, bullfighting and fiesta. Catalonia has gone from being ignored by the media to being sexy and trendy. When and why did this happen?

Although it is impossible to pinpoint a specific date, the massive demonstration on September 11th, 2012 (Catalan National Day) was an unmistakable turning point. It is hard to ignore the powerful, clear and unequivocal clamour of more than a million people who, in a peaceful and festive manner, filled the streets that day calling for “Catalonia, next state in Europe.” Some foreign correspondents got to experience the demonstration firsthand: their journalistic intuition didn’t fail them. The rest would arrive in a steady stream over the following weeks after the fiscal pact failed and the President of the Generalitat decided to call early elections with the firm promise that he would hold a referendum on self-determination if he were reelected. The strong opposition of the PP and the Spanish government has only made the issue more interesting. During the months of October and November 2012, dozens of foreign correspondents flocked to Barcelona to stay for a few days, speak with key civil society figures and the people on the street, walk around, observe, ask questions and get a feel for what was happening… then they went back home and wrote.

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