I don’t, I just don’t. All odds were on me lapping it up. If El País had a target-reader production machine, it would churn me out first. I am a highly educated Catalan speaker, I score left on any political compass, I am invested in things like books and alternative music and films (sorry for the pretentious label), socially mobile, I speak English, and I live abroad.
But I don’t. Actually, it’s not that I don’t care, it’s that it really pisses me off. El País was founded in 1978. That’s 36 years ago. That’s 36 years El País has had to create an edition in Catalan. But they didn’t. We did get a flimsy, boring supplement in our language in the regional editions of the newspaper, though. The Catalan pages talked about regional culture, sometimes education, and agriculture. The big things – national and international politics, sports, economy, society, were still firmly in Castilian. Catalan was pushed aside by El País, which still claimed to be a progressive, inclusive newspaper, was relegated to domesticity and regionality and banned from the big arenas. Catalan, Valencian, and Balearic issues were written from a Spain-centric point of view as if our regions were odd outliers. The tone further deteriorated, especially after the Catalan government announce a referendum on independence. All the more or less objective coverage of the Scottish referendum vanished in favour of a smear campaign against the parties and people organising the referendum in Catalonia.
Now, I understand why El País did what it did. El PP couldn’t campaign against the referendum. They are only the fourth political force and considered a bunch of clowns, so their opposition fell on deaf ears. Nobody cares about el PP over there. Sánchez-Camacho, its leader, lacks charisma and gravitas, and oozes self-hate and hypocrisy. However, El País is the most read Madrid-based newspaper in the region, and el PSC is the most voted Madrid-based party. Catalonia’s former President was PSC’s Montilla. Therefore, and as it happened in Scotland with Labour and the Guardian, they became the spearheads of the No movement, because they were the only Madrid parties who would be heard. El País opted by articles predicting economic bankruptcy for Catalonia, discrediting the leaders of both the political parties and civic movements behind the referendum. In short, El País tossed aside all journalistic ethics, which innocently I still expected them to have, and pulled this shit on us. And the crown jewel of this campaign was the announcement of a Catalan edition of El País – which is why I don’t care about it now. They have had since 1978 when the Constitution was voted, or being nice, since 1982 when things started to become a bit more stable, and they didn’t do it. They tossed Catalan aside like the weird relative you need to invite but you sure don’t want to, they gave us scraps for the longest of times thinking we would keep on taking it because, at the end of the day, they were the only Madrid-based newspaper that didn’t outright hate Catalonia. So when they felt Catalan support slipping, that is when they gave us the Catalan edition.
They gave us an edition in Catalan which should have been ours 20 years ago. They tried to bribe Catalan voters into saying No with the crassest, most evident move, as if they were doing us a favour, and they released the edition days before the referendum, announcing their commitment to “Barcelona and its place within Spain”. I don’t mind people who don’t want Catalonia to be independent – it’s a very tough decision, one that will affect your great great great grandchildren, unless there’s a zombie war. I get it. But trying to bribe us with this, when this should have been something you did decades ago? No. It feels patronising, and it is too little too late.
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