The Mirror Effect: Spanish and Belgian Press Coverage of Political Conflicts in Flanders and Catalonia

Enric Castelló, Alexander Dhoest, Sara Bastiaensens


This article analyzes how the press inBelgiumand inSpainreports onCataloniaandFlanders, respectively. Grounding our arguments in the theories of national identities and the domestication of the news, we propose the concept of the mirror effect to explain the logics of comparison of two different contexts. Combining a content analysis of eight major newspapers with a qualitative discourse approach, the article shows that reporting on political conflicts such as the ones analyzed tends to use “the other’s case” as a model to learn from that may or may not be followed. The results also indicate considerable differences between the Belgian and Spanish cases, the latter being more politicized and focused on the other’s national conflict.

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