Talk for Article "Big Read: Catalonia crisis splits families and friends"

Talk about this Article

  1. [ This comment is from a user you have muted ] (show)

    I live in Catalonia and was born Catalan although I acquired the Andorran nationality some years ago. My family is (mostly) strongly independentist, but not I nor my wife and sons. I am sure discussing a highly emotional topic like independence or Spaniardship is difficult for many people, but I the generalization that the Catalan society is fractured doesn’t feel right. The article seems to support this assertion based on a series of personal and perhaps anecdotal interviews with an unspecified number of people. I would much prefer a more nuanced description of people having more or less difficulty talking depending on what: By the way, I have never been insulted for not being independentist by an actual person. I would discount in this regard social networks.

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    George, could we get the full transcript of the interviews referenced in this story?

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      Hi Hector, time permitting, I will upload the recordings of the seven main interviews later this week or early the next.

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    At this point of the article: “Separatists accuse Madrid of using “fascist” methods – including police repression, propaganda, and economic warfare – to derail Catalan independence” it would be a must to talk about the well-documented brutality that the police used during the referendum, against the voters.

    Separatists and voters suffered an undemocratic treatment on that day, a fact which has to be mentioned in the article because it triggered a definitive switch on separatists’ feelings.

    The whole history of the relations between independentists and unionists, changes on the day of the referendum and this would be a key argument of the topic of this article, which unfortunately shows a pro-unionist allure losing the balance and a neutral approach, considering also the conclusion of the history.

    Also, regarding the anecdotical parts of the article, which lacks enough separatists’ voices, it would be important to talk about how peoples (Catalans) would see themselves in the European Union as an independent nation, this could be a way to expand the story over the European Union context.

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      Hi Andrea. I agree with you that the police violence of October 1 was excessive. I also believe, like you do, that it polarised further an already tense situation.

      What I’m not quite so sure of is when you say it triggered a “definite switch”. What do you mean by that? How does, in your opinion, the “whole history of the relations between independentists and unionists change that day”?

      I’m not quite sure what you mean in your last paragraph. Which Catalans see Catalonia as a EU nation?

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        Hello George, thanks your answer is very appreciated. The brutality of the police during the referendum is an emblematic case which marks a non-return point of the diplomatic relations between the autonomous region and the central state, plus it attacks human rights and freedom of the separatists-Catalonians, who, as a consequence, start to generate a new approach to the independentist cause. In a few words, the brutality they suffered has given them both a further why and new reasons to ask for independence. If before things were quiet and reasonable, after the brutalities all change, because the law has been broken.

        The third paragrapher’s intents were to enrich the article and to highlight the EU connections with Spain and Catalonia, as at the moment the EU is an indissoluble entity with Spain. It could be interesting to also interview the independentists about what could be their relations with Europe if the independence would come. Because as things are, leaving from Spain means also leaving from EU. I didn’t mean that the Catalans see Catalonia as an EU nation.

        1. [ This comment is from a user you have muted ] (show)

          Hi Andrea, thank you for the chance to talk these things out.

          What do you mean by a point of diplomatic no-return?

          If October 1 was a point of diplomatic no-return, why would most separatist parties be willing to participate in the snap elections on December 21? Or closer to the date, why wouldn’t have Puigdemont declared independence on October 10, when he instead gave a suspended declaration of independence?

          Independence might still be on the agenda, particularly if separatists win the December 21 election, but the ‘how’ seems quite diplomatic to me. This poll seems to suggest that: http://ceo.gencat.cat/ceop/AppJava/loadFile?fileId=25479&fileType=1

          And while I’m tempted to agree with you that October 1 might live on in the memories of pro-independentists, my experience is that things are still reasonable and quiet, if tense at the highest political echelons .

          There has been no overt violence between unionists and separatists, no semblance of violence even (as is mentioned in the story). But there is a growing disaffection between both groups, and this has been the case for years, not only since October 1.

          And when you say the law was broken (by police, I presume) on October 1, it’s important to keep in mind that for many Catalonians and other Spaniards (including the courts), it was the separatists who knowingly broke the law that day.

          I’m sure most separatists (save for the anti-capitalists at the CUP) would like to see Catalonia as a part of the European Union, but it also depends on the European Union, which has said it supports Spanish unity. So although I agree it would be interesting to get their opinion, I think it goes beyond the intentions of this article, which were to show how the independence crisis has driven a wedge between friends and families in Catalonia.

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            Hi George, I appreciate that you want to go deeper beyond my suggestions, but I am keen to keep my position and that’s why I asked some rewriting.

            With your story, you well empowered the nationalists but not the separatists.

            I see and appreciate the intentions of the article, but in my opinion, the news is that there has been a referendum and that Catalonia asked for the independence, as a consequence the article should be considering deeply this mentioned present point to describe friends and families’ disagreements.

            The article offers only nationalists’ sources, moreover, the only interviewed source with expert knowledge, Professor Joan B. Culla i Clarà, is a columnist of El Pais, a strong loyalist paper defending the unity of Spain.

            Plus, the end of the story of Joan Rabasseda is somehow confusing and it doesn’t get to a clear conclusion but is portraiting separatists as the bad sides and substantially and factiously alimenting that “acrimonious” feeling that you try to describe in the article.

            I insist that adding at least a sentence about the brutality of the police on October 1 would be highly appropriate, especially in the part where you talk about a “controversial referendum”.

            The sixth paragrapher should be expanded, as if the Government of Spain has the right to declare illegitimate the referendum, it also exists the people right of self-determination to choose a sovereignty, a well-defined principle of international law. On this argument and on the role of the EU in the Catalonian crisis I suggest the lecture of the Open letter written by intellectuals and exponents of the EU Parliament, you can find it here: https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/barbara-spinelli-et-al/upholding-rule-of-law-in-european-union

            In order to offer a neutral view to our readers, the article should consider these previously offered suggestions.

            If there are recorded separatists’ sources, those should be added in order to be fair without favoring one side or the other, keeping in mind accuracy and objectivity.

            1. [ This comment is from a user you have muted ] (show)

              Hi Andrea,

              Thank you very much for your thoughts. I am addressing some of your concerns individually.

              1. There are four main ‘unionist’ voices and three ‘separatist’ voices in my story. Culla is one of the latter. You can check his bio out here: https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_B._Culla
              2. Separatist Catalans have had their voices heard (some, including unionists, would say overheard) by virtue of having a separatist government (and institutions). Unionist Catalans – who may be as numerous, if not more, as their separatist friends & families – have not over the past few years.
              3. Most people who have been following this story know that there was a disputed referendum in Catalonia and that as a result, the Parliament declared independence. In a previous draft of the story, I went into some detail about the events that occurred that day, but we later decided to remove it because we had already written about the violence on October 1. We may attempt to come back to this aspect of the story as it progresses.
              4. Thanks for the open letter. I think the argument of self-determination vs territorial sovereignty is for another story, which you’re welcome to start yourself by clicking “Add a new story”.

              Thanks again for all your insights.

              1. [ This comment is from a user you have muted ] (show)

                Hi George, thank you, I am glad that you are appreciating my insights, but unfortunately, those were not so effective.

                Do you really think that the separatist voices that you mentioned in your article, have been useful to appease the disagreements between friends and families?
                Are you sure that portraiting the separatists as those who yell “Son of bitch” to the counterpart is it good?
                Are you convinced that portraiting the separatists as those who aren’t able to have a political debate is going to ameliorate the situation there?
                And do you think that a separatist voice which doesn’t agree with the Puigdemont’s actions is it useful, or balanced, in this context?

                Well, this is the way how the separatists’ voices are used in your article, not mentioning that of the Professor, which should be a neutral one because it offers an expert knowledge contribution. But look it, the Professor describes in the article the treatment that the Spanish media reserved for the separatists, which reflects exactly how you treated them in your article.

                I feel this is a dangerous practice in journalism, none who yell “son of a bitch” to someone should have a place as a source in such a delicate argument like this that we are treating here, it doesn’t neither support nor helps the cause. Instead, it nourishes the separations, it adds the braces.

                Can you figure out, what would be the outcome of your article in a pre-war context of Kosovo? I imagine it: ” The media treat us Kosovars as those who rudely yell at Serbs, the media say we are incapable to have a political debate, the media don’t even mention our right to claim independence from Serbia…” Would such an article help to not have a war? I am not sure.

                But I am sure that each good article is a piece of history that someone will be reading in the future and the fact that we have already written the main fact somewhere else in the journal it doesn’t matter because the main fact has always to be repeated, especially when we are writing about such serious issues as those of a fractured society.

                Thank you, George, I am really glad to have this golden opportunity to write a story, but now I value more to ameliorate this one here, at least to highlight what I consider to be some mistakes which I would appreciate to edit together.

                1. [ This comment is from a user you have muted ] (show)

                  Andrea,
                  Given that this is based on interviews which were on the spot and made during a visit to Barcelona we’re not going to crack open the story again to do more with the “other side”.
                  The story represents a fair reflection of what the reporter found and the views or “ordinary people”. If there are historical or factual errors we’ll change it but not the tone of the people George was able to interview.
                  Some sort of 50/50 balance might be theoretically desirable but the story is the account of real people in a difficult situation. We have extensively reported on all aspects of the Catalonian crisis, including explanatory pieces, news, the briefing and on the spot reporting.
                  I was also struck today reading The Economist how strongly it had chosen to effectively condemn the Puigdemont perspective. It also makes an interesting comment about the Kosovo comparison: https://www.economist.com/news/europe/21730874-government-intervention-and-snap-election-have-defused-not-settled-crisis-goes
                  I am not saying The Economist tone in a news piece rather than commentary was correct but it does deal strongly with some of the separatist tropes.
                  Regards, Peter

                  1. [ This comment is from a user you have muted ] (show)

                    Peter,
                    I understand that the field process of the reporter has been undoubtedly well reported in the article, however, I thought some objections were necessary. Hopefully, the talks will largely suffice. I also espouse the editor vision and really appreciate your personal intervention. Thanks for the Economist’s article, it arouses a reflection: if the Slovenian’s referendum would have been condemned as this of Catalunia, we may still have an entire Yugoslavia.

  4. [ This comment is from a user you have muted ] (show)

    Regarding Catalan’s Oct 1 Referendum, I have read that the low voter turn-out was because pro-unity people boycotted the referendum. If that is accurate, referencing the 90%-pro-independence result w/o mentioning the boycott is a serious distortion of the facts. Just saying there was “low turnout” implies that both sides skipped the referendum in roughly equal proportions.

    1. [ This comment is from a user you have muted ] (show)

      Hi Jim, thanks for your comment. We had a good conversation about this topic here – https://www.wikitribune.com/story/2017/10/30/spain/spain-takes-over-running-of-catalonia/13811/#talk

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