It’s natural that journalists and experts will inevitably allow their statements to be coloured by their opinions and experiences
Last week, talking to my sister, the subject of Catalonia’s independence came up and she, rather dutifully but without much enthusiasm I could tell, asked me how things were going with that. I imagined her bracing herself for a long explanation of the political situation here, so I thought the better option might be to dodge the whole thing. Up and down, I told her, or something along those lines, and we moved on to other subjects.
In a way it was a shame, because it would have been interesting to get her take on the situation, given that she is an intelligent woman with good instincts, who is also completely on the outside and who could see the whole thing with fresh eyes.
I admit to feeling a bit unsure about what is going on politically right now. I read the Catalan press and they present things one way, I read the Spanish press and they see things another way, with the truth no doubt somewhere in the middle. The foreign press coverage is patchy and most often just seems to rehash what is said in our mainstream media. More objective viewpoints from people who are interested in the subject and also informed about it would be helpful.
And that’s when I read an interview with US professor of international law, Allen Buchanan, which you can find in this issue of the magazine (pages 22-24). Buchanan, who was recently visiting Catalonia and who spoke in Girona and Barcelona, is an expert on secession processes and the author of a book on the subject. So, unlike my sister, he actually has an interest in the topic and, in his case, great knowledge of the current political situation. He is also a foreign academic who has no dog in the fight, as it were, and so his analysis of the situation and his suggestions for how to go about resolving it came across to me as refreshingly objective.
I won’t go over what he says here, as you can go and read the interview for yourself. However, I will say that his views seemed fairly balanced and realistic to me, which is more than I can say for many of the words spoken or written about the independence crisis in Catalonia and Spain that I see every day in the Catalan and Spanish media.
That is not so much a criticism, as I think it’s natural that journalists and experts will inevitably allow their statements to be coloured by their opinions and experiences, as well as the platform they are appearing on; it’s only human and there is a lot at stake. However, I might need to look abroad to get some real objectivity, as long as I can find people like Buchanan whose knowledge of the issue matches his interest. I can tell you now that my sister’s going to have some homework to do!