American Coverage of The Crisis In Catalonia

Date
2018-05
Authors
Kofos, Michael
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Abstract

Americans accumulate much of their knowledge of current world events through a variety of national news outlets. International news topics command variable attention in American headlines and are dependent on a number of factors including the domestic crisis of the day, perceived importance to the economy, public familiarity with the region, political impact on American interests, direct effect on American citizens or companies abroad and perceived interest of the American public. Given these reasons, American knowledge of foreign affairs is limited. Only when a constitutional crisis in a major European Union nation peaks with violence during a secessionist referendum does the issue make American headlines. On October 1, 2017, the regional government of Catalonia, one of Spain’s most influential autonomous communities, held an independence referendum. It was reported that around ninety percent of Catalans who voted said “yes” to independence, but these activists were confronted in the streets by a militarized police force sent by the Spanish national government, which declared the proceedings illegal. While this episode rightfully appeared in the headlines of many major American newspapers, these were some of the first events that exposed many Americans to the idea of Catalan secessionism – a deep-rooted narrative. Cognizant that there are more urgent issues to Americans that certainly deserve their share of media attention, my thesis poses the question “has the American media done a sufficient job covering the movement unfolding in Catalonia?” I examine patterns of news coverage pertaining to the Catalan ordeal and similar cases, and investigate the extent to which Americans are aware of the region of Catalonia itself. Following that, I assess the significance of the Catalan independence movement to American society to determine if its coverage has been sufficient.

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