Covid-19, Storm Gloria and Messi: How the world viewed Catalonia in 2020
A study of 10 newspapers in France, Germany, Italy, UK and US finds 1,021 mentions of Catalonia
A study from Rovira i Virgili University published by Diplocat analyzed mentions of Catalonia in 10 major international newspapers: The Washington Post and The New York Times (USA), The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph (UK), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany), Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica (Italy), and Le Figaro and Le Monde (France).
Between them, the newspapers published 1,021 articles in which Catalonia was mentioned. In 322 of those, Catalonia was the main subject.
The United Kingdom was the country that covered Catalonia the most, with The Guardian carrying 247 stories, but Süddeustsche Zeitung was the newspaper with most articles featuring Catalonia as the main subject.
On the other hand, the United States carried the fewest number of stories about Catalonia. The Washington Post had 18 articles in total, less than any other paper in the study, while the New York Times had the fewest number of articles with Catalonia as the main subject.
Catalonia only appeared once on the front page of one of the newspapers, specifically in the Corriere della Sera.
Covid-19, unsurprisingly, was the topic that garnered the most mentions. It accounted for over half of all articles, 50.54%, followed by sports and cultural issues. Stories related to the independence movement ranked fourth, with 7.19% of the total.
39.7% of the pieces about Catalonia were located in the international section and 18.31% in the sports pages, the vast majority to do with FC Barcelona, with Messi's on-off departure from the football club the biggest story, alongside the financial situation facing the club.
Compared to 2019, the number of generic mentions of Catalonia increased from 584 to 1,021, but the proportion of pieces where Catalonia was the main subject decreased from 50% to 31.54%. This is probably due to the fact that many articles on Covid-19 mentioned several different places including Catalonia.
Other Catalan topics that resonated internationally included ERC's parliamentary support enabling Pedro Sánchez to be elected Spanish president, the impact of Storm Gloria, and the chemical explosion that occurred in Tarragona.
Check out our podcast from January below, which features a look back on 2020.