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Being a journalist in the Catalan storm

Trying to avoid being manipulated while being accused of manipulation, covering the Catalan debate is complicated.

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Being a journalist in the Catalan storm

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By Cristina Giner in Barcelona

The Catalan crisis has polarised society and with the media finding themselves viewed as an enemy of either cause. National press and broadcasters are viewed with more than suspicion by many independentists. Catalan journalists working at so-called ‘Spanish media’ (national-wide media with headquarters in Madrid) frequently can face problems working being accused of ‘manipulation’ and ‘lies’. Colleagues have told me how people refuse to talk to them, even off camera. Some have been targeted by abuse and insults.

When I am doing vox-pops people looks suspiciously at the logo mic before deciding whether to talk or what to say. Some declare angrily that they would not talk if I was from the Spanish media because they are ‘liars’. “Prensa española manipuladora” (The Spanish press is manipulating) is one recurrent slogan at the secessionist rallies. It’s quite sad to see my colleagues from any media trying to do their jobs in such an atmosphere.

I’ve witnessed the Spanish national media being targeted more because most events taking place in the area are pro-independence rallies, but abuse of the regional Catalan television have also been reported both here and in Madrid. During anti-independence rallies, the regional Catalan broadcaster decided not to use a logo on their mics. I know a number of journalists who prefer to keep their logos invisible. Journalists feel they need to hide their identity to do their work.

As a journalist working for the international media I feel more respected. The perception here is that the international media are explaining the conflict in a more unbiased and impartial way. We are also seen as a means for their voice to be heard in Europe and by the international community. The pro-independence movement have made numerous efforts to push the debate to the international arena and often my job has been to sort the reality from the perception that both sides would like to communicate.

But all this is not to say that the role of the media has been perceived entirely negatively. At the last demo I attended, a group of people stood in front of the cameras and started applauding. I felt at least someone was recognizing the hard work the media are trying to do to explain this emotionally and politically complex conflict.

Cristina Giner is a Spanish reporter who has led Euronews’ coverage of Catalan independence debate from Barcelona and elsewhere

The opinions expressed in view articles are not those of Euronews