ORM Seminar – El Pais and the Catalan Challenge: Managing Political Pressure as a form of Expertise

The next session of the ORM Seminar will take place on June 22d (15:00 to 17:00), ORM, Louvain-la-Neuve.

Zoltan Dujisin (FNRS postdoc researcher) will present results from his research about expertise and journalism.

Title of the presentation: El Pais and the Catalan Challenge: Managing Political Pressure as a form of Expertise


Traditionally a center-left daily, El País, one of Europe’s most prestigious legacy papers, positioned itself as a strong and uncompromising voice against Catalan secessionism, mirroring the official position of the Spanish conservative government and stirring up unprecedented tensions within the newsroom. Using a field theory approach, this paper seeks to unearth the structural origins of these political tensions, how they are translated into the journalistic field, and how journalists use their expertise to grapple with limits to their autonomy. The article builds on two dozen interviews with current and former journalists and editors at El País who recount how the pressures surrounding the Catalan crisis posed a challenge to their journalistic expertise, professional credibility and autonomy. It shows that in spite of journalistic autonomy being central to journalists’ public legitimation as experts, dealing with political pressure is an integral part of their job, and journalists accept such limitations within certain boundaries. When these boundaries are violated, journalists struggle to retain their professional identity and to project their professional legitimacy to the public. By implication, our definition of journalistic expertise should grapple with the contradiction between how journalistic expertise is publicly legitimated and how it is exerted in practice by integrating the management of political pressure as an integral aspect of the profession.

Inscription by email: gregoire.lits@adescampe

Image credit: Joan Ribot Mundet, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Catalonian_Protest_Brussels_2017-01.jpg)

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