Maria Fedorovna Ezheleva

Saint Petersburg State University

7/9 Universitetskaya Naberezhnaya, Saint Petersburg,

199034, Russia



This work examines the Spanish experience of implementing the idea of European integration through the representation of European content in the national newspaper El Pais.  The study concentrates on the period of Spanish presidency in the EU — the year of 2010 — when Spain was the “flagship” of the official EU policy at the international, European and national levels.

The relevance of the research comes from the wide influence EU legislation exerts on the mass media and on the editorial policies regarding social, political, cultural and economic issues in the national newspaper.

The author employs investigative models focused on the analysis of methods and ways of presentation, implementation and realization of the European “media idea” in the national newspaper. As a result, the author authenticates the percentage of European content in the context of entire publications, defines the main information trends of the European integration and the defining characteristics of European content.


Key words: European content, integration policy, national mass media, Spanish newspaper “El Pais”, European “media idea”, European public sphere


Recent political, economic and sociocultural actions of official representatives and citizens of the European Union indicate the necessity of a comprehensive study of the problems of media coverage in the sphere of multinational integration processes in the EU.  The review of this problem requires extensive investigation of “pivotal points” — meaningful historical and political moments for each country (in this case, Spain).


The object of this study is the national newspaper El Pais (the issues from January to April 2010)

The subject of the study is the implementation of integration policy on the pages of the national newspaper El Pais.

The research objective is concentrated on a structural analysis of the European “media idea” through the representation of European content in mass media. According to this objective, the author solved the following tasks:

  • defined the concept of European content in mass media;
  • presented the characteristics of the national Spanish newspaper El Pais;
  • identified the degree of saturation of the national newspaper by European information;
  • determined the proportion of European content as compared with the general content and national Spanish content (Spanish domestic issues);
  • made a qualitative and comparative analyses of the European content in El Pais







European integration is the process of political, legislative, social, economic, and cultural interaction in the European Union (EU)[1]. It includes integration among EU member states and citizens, cooperative business and social processes, as well as common processing in decision-making based on collaboration systems between EU institutes and EU’s legal framework. This framework consists of documents that regulate the mass media sphere and the communication policy in supporting the information media space.

Audiovisual Media Services Directive is rightly considered one of the main regulating documents in the EU’s mass media sphere. It regulates actions of Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services[2]. This Directive played a crucial role in the adoption of the rule about media development concentrated on support for production of European content in the media,  growth of the digital economy and communication technologies[3]. Meanwhile, the European Commission took on the responsibility for creating an internal market for the information society and media sphere by modernizing the legal framework[4].

Audiovisual Media Services Directive contains conceptual information about relevant European media items. The main requirement is to provide public access to big events through producing and publishing news reports. The Member States of the EU should facilitate citizens’ access to these events by guaranteeing tv-signal and creating a list of the most socially important events.

At the same time, the law prohibits news broadcasting during breaks in the entertainment shows and requires that every channel broadcast “national European media content” (in addition to news reports and advertising).

Basic laws regulating the European media product include the following essential responsibilities: inclusion of information about content providers and producers, support of European producers, prohibition of incitement to hatred, protection of minors and human dignity, the right to freely express one’s opinion, prohibition of child pornography, promotion of diversity of cultural expressions, dissemination of European information and European works[5].

Simultaneously, the main items of the EU’s media policies and media services are development of European legislation in the media sphere, regulation of the national media content and information support of European integration and realization of the principle of fair market competition in the media business.

It is noteworthy that in 2010 EU’s Directives could not be adopted as the main legal instrument to regulate printed newspaper and official web sites, which were then regulated by national legislations. Because of that, it is truly socially and scientifically useful to investigate national Spanish opinions in a national newspaper. This could reveal public, political or economic attitudes of Spanish society and establishment. Furthermore, the semantic value of European content could reflect the adoption of the idea of a common media space and public sphere in the EU.


The concept of a cohesive EU community requires that citizens identify themselves with each other and have a so-called predominant «we-feeling» instead of a political one[6]. Therefore, in this paper I will discuss the general economic, political, and sociocultural processes taking place in the EU, as well as the methods of presenting European information content and the nature of media discourse focused on the realization of the idea of European integration.

Nowadays, European integration policy in the sphere of mass media is controlled by the EU institutions through the regulation with official laws and directives. At the same time, European integration processes have an influence over the realization of the EU’s information policy. It is one of the ways to create specific European content which EU citizens could define as part of a meaningful “informational media space”.

European content is represented in many forms and categories: television and radio programs, newspapers, magazines, official websites, investigative journalistic articles, audiovisual media reports, etc. The object and the main topic of such productions are the European Union as a political and economic union, European official institutions, as well as political, economic, cultural, and social events on EU’s territory.

According to the Audiovisual Media Services Directive and some additional information, the definition of “European content” includes that the product was verifiably produced on an  EU territory, by an EU citizen who acted in accordance with the law. Such content also includes information about EU members or the EU as a political and economic union. This content could be available in graphic, textual and multimedia forms and highlight political, social, economic, cultural, religious, scientific, educational, domestic, and tourist events.


Spain has been a member of the EU since 1986. During this period, national mass media have gradually been subjected to the processes of the Europeanization of the information space: the first step was the introduction of specialized headings and reports about the EU, the last step is obligatory publishing and broadcasting of European content.

National Spanish media have always paid close attention to economic, civil, and political issues in Europe. But for the purposes of this paper, we are interested in the national media during the year of the Spanish presidency in the EU — 2010 — when this country was the “flagship” of the official EU policy at the international, European and national levels.

I analyzed the European content in the national Spanish mass media using the national newspaper El Pais during the period of January-April, 2010, as an example. The purpose was to investigate the methods and ways of presentation, implementation and realization of the European “media idea” and its subsequent evolution into a media product. According to this objective, I identified the percentage of European information in the context of the whole publications, defined the main information trends of European integration and European feature content in the paper.


El Pais is the biggest national daily socio-political Spanish newspaper. It was, perhaps, the most influential in the print media market in 2010. It was created on May 4, 1976, at a time when Spain itself stepped on the path toward democratic development. The paper defines itself as a “worldwide independent daily quality newspaper and a defender institution of democracy and pluralism”[7]. Many consider El Pais a representative of modern national Spanish press in general and a pioneer in the process of journalistic adaptation to the democratic system in the country. The paper’s main headquarters, editorial office and a printing house are situated in Madrid; regional bureaus are located in Barcelona, Bilbao, Mexico and Argentina. It also has bureaus in Washington and Brussels and boasts a large network of Correspondent Offices. In 2010 El Pais was owned by a Spanish media holding «Grupo PRISA» and had collaborative international media projects with many foreign newspapers – La Repubblica,  Le Monde, Süddeutsche Zeitung, The Telegraph, International Herald Tribune, New York Times[8]. The paper’s political slant is liberal-democratic. It specializes in informing readers about and analyzing all aspects of Spanish life and culture, while also focusing on international news and positioning itself as an important actor in European journalism[9]. El Pais is a progressive European newspaper, which reflects latest continental media trends in its work.


According to Rodrigo Rato (Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund in 2004-07; Minister of Economy in 1996-2004; a member of the conservative People’s Party and First Deputy Prime Minister of Spain in 2003-04), El Pais is a left-centrist and left newspaper[10]. Another politician, Francisco Pascual de la Parte (The Consul General of Spain in St. Petersburg) concurred and noted the paper’s support for political actions of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE)[11].


This paper will present the analysis of the European content in El Pais in several stages. Firstly, it will explore the media content in paper’s special category, “Europe.” It will then concentrate on other articles with special European content. Lastly, it will assess publications about other EU members.

This study is focused on the paper’s national edition, which is  strictly segmented by the use of permanent sections (“Latin America,” “Europe,” “USA,” “Middle East,” «Spain,” “Culture,” “Economics,” “Technologies,” “Opinion,” etc.) There are lots of articles about international policy processes (especially about Hispanic countries in Latin America). In the second section, the paper aggregates all articles about Europe without differentiation by countries, subjects or problems. For example, in April, 2010, the paper paid attention to the following topics: a terrorist attack in Russia (although this country is not an EU member), the future Olympic building in London, electricity in Germany, the effect of Greek Depression on European economy, economic difficulties in France, regional elections in France, Trial of Radovan Karadžić, etc.

In order to reveal principal European topics from January to April 2010, let us pay attention to the front page of the newspaper’s website: regional elections in France and Italy, ETA separatist groups in Portugal, The Greek government’s debt crisis, unemployment, anticorruption actions in EU, operation work of EU’s institutions (like the Council of Europe), cultural sphere, religious issues and scandals in the EU.

In 2010, European content had strong leading positions in El Pais: this content group was on the second and third place by the number of publications, trailing behind only information about Spain and Latin America. At the same, time the percentage of Latin American and European information is approximately equal.


Looking at news reports about actual events in the EU is an important step in the process of analyzing European content. The goal of such publications is to educate Spanish citizens and inform them about reforms, changes and current affairs in other European countries, as well as to create conditions for visibility and accessibility of these processes and to demonstrate concernment on common European problems. Everything is aimed at identifying Spanish people as EU citizens.

El Pais also paid attention to pan-European political news (so-called “must-have”) and international policies of the European Union. In 2010, political information was largely “economized”: during the first half of the year most of the European content was devoted to financial issues and processes, which were evaluated negatively by the paper because of the ambiguity of the EU’s economic position and contradictions between EU members. One can also negative assessment in headlines, topic selection, provided facts and details, used vocabulary, all of which could easily inspire panic in the populatiob. Still, journalists also spoke about the processes of solving the problems (stabilization policy, assistance from other states, maintaining the economy) and tried to inform the audience about actually adopted solutions.

European culture is another important issue for the paper: it shows integration in the EU space, formation of the European public sphere and existence of European content in national mass media. As a result of reading the articles about European culture Spanish citizens should feel themselves as a part of the European society with common great cultural heritage. It is like a special layer for the formation of the internal, transcendental space for the whole European community and every individual citizen. This type of media content satisfies the human need for beauty and is necessary for the realization of the “we-feeling”.

The process of European integration in El Pais is also reflected at the visual level through the use of photography, multimedia elements, charts, and cartoons. Special columns, such as “Photography” and “Image of the Day,” increase the volume of European content and contribute to the realization of the idea of European unity through the reflection of European content in illustrations.

When people open the “Europe” section, they can read «news by country» (noticias por paises), with the following states representated: France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Holland, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Finland, Denmark. In the case of France, for instance, the main topics covered were regional elections and the defeat of the presidential party because both could influence France’s political ideology, including the country’s relations with the EU and Spain. The second topic was the terrorist issue associated with ETA separatist groups located in the north of Spain and France in the Basque Country. The third topic was cultural, focused on  cinema, fashion, and fairs (e.g., the festival of bullfighting in Arles). In the “German European content” in El Pais, journalists were interested in external and internal German policy, peculiarities of life in Germany, the country’s economic situation and employment rates. Such attention reflects the intention to “bring” Germany into the European integration process as represented in this newspaper. It is also noteworthy that in 2010 Spanish journalists in El Pais  wrote negatively about regional elections in Italy and the country’s internal political affairs and leaders. Still, they published lots of information about tourism and travelling in Italy, giving the country positive emotional and rational reviews in that regard, further supporting the integration process.


Speaking about other countries, it is easier to display the data in the form of a table. The chronological framework is January-April 2010.


Country Number of publications Politics and Economics Social sphere Culture Other theme


Italy Mentioned daily   50% 5% 40% 5 %
France Mentioned daily 70 % 10 % 17 % 3%
Germany Mentioned daily 70% 5 % 15% 10%
Portugal Mentioned irregularly 10 % 50 % 30% 10 %
Austria Mentioned irregularly
Belgium Mentioned daily

(official EU authorities in Brussels)

Mentioned irregularly

(other themes)

80 % 4 % 15 % 1 %
Other countries Depending on the event 60 % 15 % 15 % 10%
The European Union as a political association Mentioned daily


50 % 20% 20% 10%










The research clearly shows  that investigating the processes of realizing the idea of European integration through the reflection of European content in national Spanish newspaper El Pais is an important step to understanding the integration policy of the European Union.

Usually, European integration in national mass media is realized by the official EU institutions via legislative regulations of the Media Sector. But in 2010, EU Directives could not be adopted as the main legal instrument to regulate printed newspaper and official web sites, which were then regulated by national legislation. Still, the national Spanish newspaper El Pais tried to satisfy current trends in the media sphere and introduced special sections with EU members as protagonists.

In 2010, due to the Europeanization of its own public policies in the mass media sphere, El Pais participated in the integration processes and played an big role  in the creation of the European public sphere. The paper was full of indicators pointing at the existence of European integration processes. The creation of European content was characterized by the availability of articles focused on the EU, as well as the presence of information about big events, politicians, iconic persons, cultural, sports and social events in the public eye.




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[1] Rosamond B. Theories of European Integration. New York, 2000. p. 183

[2] DIRECTIVE  2010/13/EU  OF  THE  EUROPEAN  PARLIAMENT  AND  OF  THE  COUNCIL of  10  March  2010 on  the  coordination  of  certain  provisions  laid  down  by  law,  regulation  or  administrative  action  in   Member  States  concerning  the  provision  of  audiovisual  media  services  (Audiovisual  Media  Services Directive)

[3] Ibid.p. 28

[4] Ibid. p.32

[5] Ibid. P. 36

[6]  Adam S. Do mass media portray Europe as a community?: German and French Debates on EU Enlargement and a Common Constitution // Javnost-Ljubljana.  № 15 (1). 2008

[7] La Escuela del periodismo UAM – «El Pais» /

[8] Ibid

[9] Press reference. Spain Press, Media, TV, Radio, Newspapers/

[10] Official web site of the newspaper “El Pais” /

[11] Guild of Press Publishers (GIPP)/


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