Framing the Scottish Referendum, one year after

September 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

One year after I was at the University of Stirling to participate in a seminar about ‘Television framing of the Scottish Referendum’. Jointly with Marta Montagut, we presented a paper on how Catalan media (newspapers and television) covered the consultation. It was a very interesting meeting, with very well selected contributions that turned into a vivid discussion among around fifty assistants. The conference was excellently organized by Marina Dekavalla, one of the scholars working on this issue for years and with a wide knowledge on the topic. Claes de Vreese, one of the best experts on framing, opened the sessions with a very comprehensive explanation about how frames work in constructing political meanings through communication processes.IMG_20150918_093918

There were journalists, BBC staff and scholars from five or six British universities. Of course, most of the discussing focus was on the BBC coverage of the Referendum, and on the impartiality or the supposed bias during the campaign. But the audience was really interested in the Catalan process and about how Scottish politics does influence in the day-to-day political debate in Catalonia. All eyes put on next 27S, my overall impression was that Scottish academics and journalists do expect to see a democratic solution for the Catalan political conflict.

Following, an abstract on the contribution, which was very much appreciated by the audience.

Framing the Scottish Referendum, Seminar 18 September 2015, University of Stirling, Scotland.

The referendum and the Scottish constitutional issue in Catalan media. Representations, Metaphors and Frames

Enric Castelló and Marta Montagut
Universitat Rovira i Virgili

The Catalan media displayed a huge coverage of the Scottish referendum, with special programs, correspondents and analysts, who reported the complexity of the country and offered a myriad of representations of the Scottish and British politics. The day before the celebration of the Scottish referendum, the Spanish president Mariano Rajoy considered in the Congress that such processes were “torpedoes in the waterline of the European spirit,” while after the result, the Catalan President Artur Mas interpreted the process as a true “lesson of democracy” and the “only way to solve conflicts.” The reports and opinions established a set of frames, loaded with metaphors and representations of the country. The most common to explain the British constitutional conflict and the referendum were “the path”, “the marriage”, “the lesson”, “the battle” and “the “party”. Overall, the Catalan media represented David Cameron as a true democrat, despite risky and tactical; a leader that allowed what the Spanish state does not for Catalonia. Alex Salmond appeared as a smart and populist leader, who had led his country to vote. Following the results, the Catalan media also interpreted the victory of the “No” as a victory for democracy.
Ara, La Vanguardia newspapers and public television TVC offered news pieces on the country’s history and its relationship with England. The performances of Scottish stereotypes (the tartanry) were rather limited; although they had some presence reports and analyses tried not to fall into a box of topics. The interpretative frames were drawn considering to which extend Scottish and Catalan realities could be or not a mirror. For the Spanish unionist discourse, “Scotland is not Catalonia”, while Catalan independence argument point was that “Spain is not the UK”. The discourse on both sides tended therefore to present a narrative of the disparity.
In this contribution, the authors offer an analysis of representations, metaphors and dominant frames in the Catalan media during week of the referendum. After conducting a close reading of reports in the main dailies and public television and two of the most important Catalan daily, the authors conclude that journalism built a story about how to tackle the conflict between the Spanish state and the Catalan claim for a referendum, criticising the impossibility to reply this democratic event in the home country.

Note: This contribution is part of the project “The role of metaphor in the definition and social perception of conflict. Institutions, media and citizens” (CSO2013-41661-P), with the support by the Spanish Department of Economic Affairs and Competitiveness.

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A great academic happening to talk about frames and metaphors

April 24, 2015 § Leave a comment


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Yesterday I was organizing a half-day seminar entitled ‘Media framing and metaphor use in conflict: politics, science, sports’. It was a very interesting academic event to which around 25 students, postgrad and doctoral candidates, attended. I had the pleasure to know two colleagues working on close issues who are Marina Dekavalla (University of Stirling) and Pieter Maeseele (University of Antwerp).

Marina focused on how Scottish media covered the Scottish referendum last year. She explained about her project on this issue and I am sure that the results are going to be very a accurate account about the media role in this political process. By his side, Pieter offered a very insightful speech on how the media in Flanders has been covering genetic modify issues during the last years; he illustrated us with a critical viewpoint on scientific communications and the role of stakeholders and citizens. Finally, my colleague Bernat López contributed with a engaging and also surprising speech on how the media have used a set of metaphors to refer to the doping issue linked to professional cycling.

All, students and teachers, enjoyed the approach of every speaker. Among the public, we got colleagues coming from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona and Universitat de València, what was really encouraging. I had the very useful help from some colleagues at the Department, who reported on the issue. See more there: http://www.comunicacio.urv.cat/news/5/the-department-of-communication-studies-holds-an-international-seminar-on-framing-and-metaphors. All in all, a great occasion. Thanks to all for attending, contributing and your help.

All

An age of massive protests

January 31, 2015 § Leave a comment

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“We decide”, a claim in Barcelona streets.

We live in an age of massive protests. The Arab springs (2010), the concentrations of the ‘indignados’ in Spain (2011), occupy movements (2011), Catalan rallies (2010-2014), Euromaidan protests in Ukraine (2013), or the demonstration against terrorism in Paris (2015). All of them are of very different nature, but gathering crowds of people in the streets claiming for a social or political change. Some of these protests scaled to violent episodes, meanwhile others were just a political or social claim peacefully expressed by the citizenship. Social and political science scholars, and also communication analysts, are working to better understand how public discourse and media are ordering the meanings of these massive protests: how are they framed in the newspapers, which images are having an impact in the public opinion, why some aspects of the protests are highlighted meanwhile others are just banalized or taken for grant, which meaning is attached to thousands of people in the street fostering a social or political change? Language use is never innocuous or meaningless, and metaphor analysis can offer a good tool to understand how media and journalists attach specific meanings to the demonstrations. Jointly with my colleague Arantxa Capdevila, we have worked on how 2012 protests in Catalonia were covered by major newspapers in the country. The research is bridging the previous project on political conflict with a new one we have started to analyze metaphor use in conflicting issues, not just in politics but also in science and sports. Among our conclusions we found that a major metaphor is explaining the demonstration in the realms of nature: “The people is a current of water”. This metaphor use is displaying in different scenarios where the people acquires a very different level of agency as actant in a story of political change. But meanwhile some stories treat the people as a potentially dangerous power, other narratives explain the event considering the participants as a potential useful power to social and political change. As we state in the conclusions, Madrid and Barcelona-based newspapers offer a very different account of the demonstration:

The Spanish papers minimized the agency of the people and cited them as problems for national interests; the Catalan papers showed the demonstrators as expressing the desires of the entire nation. The micronarratives in these texts represented the people as a danger to the establishment (the state) or as a powerful force to change the establishment and establish a new one.

Read more on this at Castelló, E & Capdevila, A (2015) Of War and Water: Metaphors and Citizenship Agency in the Newspapers Reporting the 9/11 Catalan Protest in 2012, International Journal of Communication, 9: 612-629.

Forthcoming article in TVNM

July 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

I am willing to see my next article in Television & New Media on the public channel (regional and statewide) coverage of the massive demonstration in Barcelona in September 11, 2012 (claiming for the self-determination). The article offers a mixed (quantitative & qualitative) textual approach to the issue and reveals how citizen’s political engagement was minimized by most of the channels. In the text, I discuss how the processes of mediation and mediatization of the event resulted in a narrative that displaced the political, meanwhile offering a frame close to what scholars have identified as ‘strategic’, focusing on politicians statements (with a relevance of official/governmental sources) and secondary aspects around the march. As stated in the text, this also tended to offer a ‘depoliticized’ account of the demonstration:

The result of this type of depoliticization is that “the political” is reserved as a sphere for politicians, while organized citizens are excluded from the political logics. This is part of a wider professional phenomenon in Western societies, where almost everything is susceptible to being explained in economic and financial terms.

… from the concluding remarks.

***

Masking Political Engagement: Television Coverage of a Mass Demonstration in Barcelona

Enric Castelló, Universitat Rovira i Virgili

This article analyzes how statewide and regional public television in Spain handled the demonstration held on September 11, 2012 (the National Day of Catalonia), in Barcelona under the slogan “Catalonia, a New European State.” The author performed a content analysis of fifty-eight news programs and a narrative analysis of eighty-nine stories. The results indicate that the majority of the channels offered limited coverage of the demonstration. The television narratives also minimized the role of citizen agency in the achievement of goals through democratic participation and displayed a depoliticized account. The author argues that the coverage of the march and its consequences resulted in a masking of citizens’ political engagement; far from promoting an understanding of why the march was so massively supported, it instead presented a story on politicians’ strategy. The author relates this case with a wider trend of media coverage of citizens’ protests in a Western post-democratic context.

Keywords

democracy, demonstrations coverage, mediatization, political conflict, public television, television news

Television & New Media, DOI: 10.1177/1527476414545890

Mediatizing conflict in Spain

September 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

We have recently published a book on the mediatization of political conflict within the Spanish context. La mediatización del conflicto político, which I have edited, offers a deep analysis on several political and sociocultural conflicts and its treatment by the Spanish press and radio. The book is leaded by a theoretical approach to the concepts of mediatization and political conflict, which also tries to update the last international advances in the field. A set of nine case studies are analysing aspects like the constitutional trial of the Catalan statue and the massive demonstrations in Barcelona claiming for the independence, the processes of legalization of the Basque political parties, or the controversies in Galicia and the reform of the regional statute. The book is also touching other topics, like the political controversies on the so-called ‘Papepeles de Salamanca’, the banning of bullfighting in Catalonia or the politization of football in Spain.

Overall, I think that with this book we have contributed to a better understanding of how media in Spain, and specifically newspapers, offer a politized and polarized narrative which not always help in a better knowing of the political reality.

Framing radio and political conflict in Spain

January 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

Marta Montagut is finishing her PhD thesis on framing and the journalistic treatment of the Constitutional Court cuts on the Catalan Statute. In the next Congress of the Spanish Association for Communication Studies (AE-IC), she will present part of the method applied to study the topic. It is a really original approach to political conflict and radio journalism. Indeed, we have not found a research applying frame analysis to radio content in the way Marta has done it. The results are being written at this moment, and I am supervising the whole work. She has found four main frames, namely (difficult translation to English): constitutional, pro-statute, pro-sovereignity and pro-independence. This interesting work will be fully published when she will finish the thesis. Anyway, for those interested in the work, there is already a paper explaning the method (in Spanish). You can access to this paper here.

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