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DOI, Digital Objetc Identifier 10.4185/RLCS-2019-1382en | ISSN 1138 - 5820 | RLCS, 74-2019 | Audio-visual explanation of the author |

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How to cite this article in bibliograhies / References

M Goirizelaia, L Iturregui (2019): “The impact of the digital media in the relation between the Basque Diaspora and the Basque Country”. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, 74, pp. 1251 to 1263
http://www.revistalatinacs.org/074paper/1382/65en.html
DOI: 10.4185/RLCS-2019-1382en

The impact of the digital media in the relation between the Basque Diaspora and the Basque Country


Maialen Goirizelaia [CV]o ORCID [https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9478-1503] Investigadora Predoctoral, Departamento de Periodismo II, Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea UPV/EHU (España), maialen.goirizelaia@ehu.eus

Leire Iturregui [CV]o ORCID [https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9675-4218] Profesora Adjunta en la Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea, Departamento de Periodismo II, Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea UPV/EHU (España), leire.iturregui@ehu.eus

Abstract
Introduction The response of this paper is to examine the communication between the Basque Diaspora and the Basque Country and the impacts that digital media have in this field. There have always existed communication between the Basque Country and the Basque communities overseas; nevertheless, until 1994 there was no existing established legal relation between them. Methodology To round out the study, 21 interviews were conducted with members of the Basque Diaspora in the United States and Argentina; responsibles of Basque Digital newspapers; the responsible of the Basque Digital Public Television; the responsible of the only Basque Diasporic Media. Results and conclusions The digitization of the media has contributed to the objectives of Law 8/1994 inasmuch as it offers the diaspora updated information on the Basque Country, but it is limited to a one-way communication. The diaspora opts for social networks for interaction and for institutional information (Basque Government) and the 'diaspora media' to access information about their country of origin and other Basque communities abroad. 

Keywords
Diaspora; Basque Diaspora; digital media revolution; public policies; media of diaspora.

Contents
1. Introduction. 2. Theoretical Framework. 2.1. Diaspora: historic evolution and definition. 2.2. Basque diaspora. 2.3. Media & diaspora. 2.4. Digital media revolution. 2.5. Public policies, Law 8/1994 & new media. 3. Methodology. 4. Results and discussions. 5.Conclusions. 6.Notes and References

 [ Research ] [ Funded ] 
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1. Introduction

Migration has always been part of the history of the Basque Country. Some of the migrants never came back to their country of origin and because of that there is a huge Basque community abroad that is part of the Basque Diaspora. During the years of Basque emigration, starting from the early 1500s until today, there has been a relation between the Basque Country and the Basque Diaspora but it was not until 1994 that that relation was formalized.  Law 8/1994 of 27 May regulates the relation with the Basque Community abroad and the Basque centers. The main purpose of the law is to promote, help, enforce and shape relations between the Basque Country, Basque society and Basque institutions and the Basque community abroad and the Basque centers.

At the same time that Law 8/1994 was formalized the mainstream media in Spain was becoming 'digitised' as new channels emerged - this was, many claim, a media revolution.

It is clear that new technologies brought a revolution in the communication between the Basque Country and the Basque diaspora in three different aspects. Firstly, with the availability of new communication technologies, Diasporas are able to obtain cultural materials with growing ease from other parts of the world (Karim H, 2002). In the case of the Basque community in Argentina, for example, they learn Basque traditional dances [1] using the internet and ones they have learnt they teach the dances at the Basque centers (personal communication, Chascomus, Argentina). Secondly, they are finding the Internet to be a remarkable tool in their efforts to reconstruct their family trees, as Retis (2011) says new technologic platforms and social media heldp in the social sinergies among between individuals and colectivities. In the Basque case at least, there are many families that found their connections thank to internet tools, such as Facebook. Diasporas are using the Internet to overcome restrictions imposed by borders and national regulations: “Members of the Basque diaspora have found new technologies, especially the Internet, to have been incredibly useful resources for finding relatives and enhancing relations” (Amezaga, 2004:139). And, finally, the availability of online versions of newspapers from countries of origin and the diaspora further enhances intercontinental connections (Karim, 2003). Thanks to that members of the diaspora can be informed about what is happening in their country of origin.

In this research we are going to concentrate on the last point, that it is on the “availability of online versions of newspapers from countries of origin and the diaspora further enhances intercontinental connections” and also the digital version of the Basque public radio television.

So far there has not been done any investigation about the effects of the digitization of media in the realization of the 8/1994 law [2]; it is, however, in relation to the effects of the internationalization of the Basque TV channel. Josu Amezaga says that when internet was in the hands of society time, space and body limits were exceeded (Gordano, 2009), and the same was true in the case of the Basque Country and the Basque diaspora. He also says that satellite TV opens the communication, and he defends that there are national, pan-national, geo-strategic, linguistic, global and diasporic areas. The diasporic areas are those used to maintain relations with those living in the diaspora. It is an initiative created by the Government for the diaspora in order to maintain relations. This area is very important for the community that lives abroad.

 In the summer of 1995 thanks to the law changed by the minister Josep Borrel, it would be possible to extend the Spanish National TV channels to an international level, and in the same way it would be possible for regional chain reaching to their diasporas. In the Spanish case the first was Canal Sur the 28 of February of 1998 (Peñafiel et al., 2008). Josu Amezaga, Carmen Peñafiel, Miguel Ángel Casado, Ainhoa Fernandez Arroyabe and Leire Gómez have conducted research into CanalVasco and EtbSat [3]. What these channels meant for the Basques abroad, when they were created, how they started working, who watched them etc.

Thus, until now, as said before, we can find research about the effect of the international TV channel on relations with the diaspora, yet not about the effect of the digital media.

The hypothesesand research questions posed are:

H1 Digital media have enforced and increased the presence of the Basque Diaspora.

H2 Digitization has improved the relations and the communication between the Basque Diaspora in United States and the Basque Country, contributing to fulfilling the main objectives of Law 8/1994.

RQ1 To what extent has the digitization of the media contributed to the achievement of the purposes of the law 8/1994 [4]?

RQ2 Which is the impact that the digitalization of media has had on the effectiveness of public policies such as Law 8/1994 aimed at the Diaspora, focusing on the case of the Basque community based in the United States and Argentina?

We present a theoretical framework analyzing the definition of Diaspora (Brubaker 2005; Butler 2001; Cohen 2007) and specifically Basque Diaspora (Douglass 2003; Totoricaguena; Oiarzabal), combined with notions of Diaspora media (Ogunyemi 2015) to maintain connections across borders (Karim 2003; Amezaga 2004) with a specific focus on the use and proliferation of online and social media (Oiarzabal 2009). In this paper, an analysis has been carried out of the use of the media by different regions to maintain relations with their worldwide Diaspora, examining what is known as the "media of diaspora" (Ogunyemi 2015), the Diasporic Media or minority media (Retis, 2008). In the case of the Basque Country an analysis has been made of how communication is enacted using the media channels. Methodologically, we adopt a mixed methods approach, literary review and in depth and face to face interviews with directors of digital Basque media, Basque Government members and members of the Diaspora in Argentina and the United States.

2. Theoretical framework
2.1.
Diaspora: historic evolution and definition

Many experts have tried to define the term diaspora yet so far there has been little consensus regarding the definition of the term. Moreover, the word diaspora, as Brubaker (2005) states, is a changing concept. This writer uses the term "'diaspora' diaspora" to refer to the dispersal of the actual concept of the diaspora. Four decades ago the word diaspora was not in common use. As the writer says: “there has been a veritable explosion of interest in diasporas since the late 1980s” and the term diaspora is becoming an increasingly common search term in Google (Brubaker, 2005:1-19). According to many writers, the word has historical links with the Jewish people. Indeed, this has been a paradigmatic case and in some dictionary definitions the word is indeed associated with the Jewish people (Sheffer, 2003 in Brubaker, 2005). Researcher Karim (2003) states that the word diaspora comes from the Greek word “diasperein” meaning dispersal of seeds.

Georgiou, M. (2010) says that “Media, telephony and digital technologies have altered transnational communication practices in the last couple of decades to such an extent as to allow daily and vast transnational exchanges online, on the phone and on television screens” (2010:21). Taking that into account Cohen proposes a new definition of the term:

“Nowadays, with the increased use of the term to describe many kinds of migrants from diverse ethnic backgrounds, a more relaxed definition [of diaspora] seems appropriate. Moreover, transnational bonds no longer have to be cemented by migration or by exclusive territorial claims. In the age of cyberspace, a diaspora can, to some degree, be held together or re-created through the mind, through cultural artefacts and through a shared imagination” (1997: 26).

 

2.2. Basque diaspora

In 1955 Jose Antonio Agirre (President of the Basque Country) stated that he wished to send, from his exile in his central “Sun” house, to all those Basques living overseas the message that the Basque diaspora was a Basque world made up of all those Basques living abroad (Ugalde, 2007). Researching the concept of Basque Dispora, it was not easy to define the concept. As Totoricaguena highlights, “there is a specific Basque diaspora identity” (Totoricaguena, 2000:37) and “the Basque collectivities do exhibit a transnational diaspora mentality though they are not likely to use the “diaspora" terminology” (Totoricaguena, 2000: 229). Instead of Basque diaspora, the term Basque migration has been used, but there has been an evolution in recent years and diaspora has become a more common term (Álvarez Gila, Angulo Morales, Marciles, 2007). Furthermore, the identity concept appears closely related to the term Basque diaspora. Oiarzabal says that the Basque diaspora comprises the communities of immigrants and exiled people of Basque origin spread across the world, and that they create a collective identity in these countries. (Alonso & Oiarzabal, 2010: 339).

For our research, we have taken the conditions proposed by other authors and we have adapted them to the Basque case. So in our research, the members of the Basque diaspora will be the ones that fulfill the following conditions: being of Basque origin (Tötöylan, Van Hear, Safran, D. Burler); as Kevin Kenny (2013) points out, it is sufficient for them to have been living abroad for one year; maintaining links with the Basque Country (Milton Esmane, Robin Cohen, Van Hear, D. Butler); supporting the Basque culture and language (William Safran’s collective memory); and having had to leave the Basque Country for different reasons (work, love, war) (Cohen 1996:515; 1997:26).

2.3. Media & diaspora

The relation between media and diaspora has been analyzed by different authors. Ogunyemi (2015) reflects on the media of diaspora; he affirms that media of diaspora are produced by and for migrants and that this media is a way of maintaining the communication with the Diasporas. Other authors consider that “Media of Diaspora are produced by and for migrants and deal with issues that are of specific interest for the members of diasporic communities “(Bozdag et al., 2012:97). In relation to the functions of this kind of media, it is said that they ““are the production of culturally relevant and locally vital information to immigrants in the host society (Yin, 2013:3); orientation and connective roles (Ogunyemi, 2012 b); open space for a self-reflective discourse among migrants (Bozdag et al.,2012); reinforce identities and sense of belonging (Georgiou, 2006); the (re)creation of alternative imaginative space alongside existing mappings (Karim, 2003); and contribution to the ethnic diversity of a multi-ethnic public sphere” (Husband, 2000:206)” (Ogunyemi, 2015).

There are some studies also about journalism targeting the diaspora. Ogunyemi, O. (2015) examines many different case studies about this question. Almost always they are initiatives born of the diaspora, that it is considered diasporic media or media of diaspora: from the diaspora to the diaspora. For example: A newspaper written in USA for the Jewish community in this country; Zimbabwean diasporic newspapers or Rome diasporic newspaper in Bulgaria. Almost always it is easy to see how the information given by the mainstream newspaper and the diasporic newspaper is not the same. In this sense, the author underlines that the quality and the objectivity also is not the best, due to the fact that the journalist that writes in diasporic newspapers doesn’t have experience in mainstream newspapers and, apart from that, as they are part of that community, their objectivity is questionable.

In the case of the Basque Country, we can find some on-line sites such as Euskalkultura.com which “reinforce the identities and sense of belonging” (Georgiou, 2006), and the digital version of euskaletxeak that is a “product of culturally relevant and locally vital information to immigrants in the host country” (Yin, 2013:3.). Both are written by Basque people and in some cases by people from the diaspora or based on interviews done to them. This could also be known as diasporic media, defined as media “produced by and for migrants and deal with issues that are of specific interest for the members of diasporic communities” -Bozdag et al (2012:97). Further research about this is been done by the autor.

2.4. Digital media revolution

Media digitization, in this case that of the Basque press, has played a significant role in this research paper. For this reason, it is necessary to analyse media digitization in general and then go on to focus on the media examined in this research paper.

The law came into force on May 27 1994 and in the same year, 1994, the first electronic edition of a media outlet was published in Spain, namely the Valencia magazine El Temps, and months later the first newspaper went on-line, El Periódico de Catalunya (Cantalapiedra and Morán, 2006:381). One year later the first Basque newspaper, El Diario Vasco, was to follow suit. With this new digital panorama in place, López and Neira (2000) posited a reflection on the challenges faced by the media and the opportunities on offer for "the cultural and media initiatives launched in and for a local sphere" which, thanks to the Internet, "arrive at the same time" to "their natural target audience and to their potential target audience". The diaspora falls into the latter category. The aforementioned authors, with reference to the Galicia case, state that media digitalization "facilitates the re-engagement between Galicia and the diaspora".

Cantalapiedra and Meso also highlighted in a study undertaken in 1999 the “failure of the concept of community” underlining that if until that moment in time it was limited to a spatial meaning, it was now beginning to be based on other factors due to the fact that “technologies facilitate the creation of communities […] with no geographical ties”, owing to a phenomenon they call a “dual counteractive impulse between global and local”. According to the authors, the use of Basque in digital media is part of the same phenomenon: "the multiplicity of languages on the Internet is an appealing example of how globalization and localization co-exist and of the cross-cultural future that lies ahead".
The worldwide web enables content to be communicated and distributed to a large number of users on a global scale in real time “generating a new social structure: the on-line society” (Castells, 2003:34 quoted in García Avilés, J. A. 2013)

2.5. Public policies, Law 8/1994 & new media

Public policies were first studied in the 1950s when attention focused first on the decision-making process and then later on implementation. Communication was merely an additional factor. Due to the power of the media this has changed and currently communication is taken seriously (Moreno, 2012). Certain definitions of public policies point to them as constituting the endpoint of the historic moment and the cultural, socio-political and/or economic environment and that they also tend to modify this environment (Parsons, 1995) or that they involve more than just a decision: "They normally involve a series of decisions. Deciding that there is a problem. Deciding what needs to be solved. Deciding on the best way to proceed. Deciding to legislate the issue, etc." (Subirats, 1998).

The theoretical cycle of public policies and programmes identifies the development of three basic stages - formulation, implementation and evaluation - followed by a new process being initiated where the formulation comes from the feedback from the outcome of the evaluation (reformulation) (Cardozo, 2012). This research paper focuses on the latter stage of this development, that is on the evaluation stage.

Public policies are a basic element in legitimizing political powers and communication is vital to achieve this legitimization (Moreno, 2012). LAW 8/1994 of May 27 on the Relations between basque social groups and basque centersoutside the Basque Autonomous Community was created to fill the existing gap and regulate relations between the Basque community abroad and the Basque Autonomous Community. For different reasons the Basques who left the Basque Country and emigrated are spread out all over the world. These Basques created Basque Centers and Basque associations which were very useful for the Basque Country [5]. The Basque Government from the times of the Civil War resisted for forty years in its Paris headquarters and for this to happen the help of Basques living overseas was crucial. The Basque Government helped these associations, not only financially but also by making annual shipments of books and audiovisual aids. As a result of this, when these Basques living abroad asked for these relations to be legislated, it was seen as a necessary step. This law aimed to establish the means to enable these groups to participate and cooperate in the society and culture of the Basque Country. The aim was for the Basque administration's activities with these social groups to be established as soon as possible with particular emphasis on promoting participation and framing and reinforcing relations [6].

This law aimed to respect the beginnings of the Statute of the Basque Autonomous Community, always enforcing the fulfilment of the activities of the Basque social agents, as stated in Section 9. In addition, it is necessary to enforce this within the powers of the Basque Autonomous Community set out in Section 10 of the Statute.  Moreover, given that the law aims to fully regulate this issue, certain other authorities are also affected, as outlined specifically in Section 7.2 of the Statute of Autonomy.

The legislation to be promoted is not based on one single piece of the Statute. Regarding this, there are certain headings in this section regarding the authorities; in fact, these are the basis of the promotional activities to be implemented. Furthermore, the Constitutional Tribunal has also come out in favour of the flexible nature of this territorial basis, in that it is crucial for the aforementioned actions to be undertaken.

As mentioned in Section 22 of the Statute, in order to assist the Basques living outside the Autonomous Community collaborative agreements need to be signed with the autonomous regions with large groups of Basque migrants. On the other hand, the Autonomous Communities are obliged to enforce that the State authorities fulfil that set out in section 6.5 of the law.

The law is based on certain articles of the Statute of Autonomy of the Basque Country and it was public policy to fill in the existing legal gaps. 

The main aim of the law is to promote relations between the Basque Autonomous Community, Basque society and Basque institutions with Basque social groups and euskal etxeak outside the Basque Autonomous Community. In close connection with the above, to manifest the real situation in the Basque Country to social groups, to disseminate Basque culture and promote the Basque economy and in general to build an information flow between the Basques living outside the Basque Autonomous Community and the social agents within. For this reason, in this research work the aim has been to examine the role of the media, with special emphasis on the digitization process.

3. Methodology

The first phase of the research reported here entailed a review of the existing literature on the object of study and the development of a theoretical framework centred on Diaspora, Basque Diaspora, New Media, Diaspora Media, digital revolution and public policies.

To round out the study, 21 interviews were conducted with members of the Basque Diaspora in the United States and Argentina; responsible of Basque Digital newspapers; the responsible of the Basque Digital Public Television; the responsible of the only Basque Diasporic Media.

Interviews with diaspora members

7 Basque-Argentinians & 6 Basque-Americans

The researcher contacted with participant of the Basque Government program called Gaztemundu [7] and has done interviews to 7 of the Basque-Argentinians who took part the year 2015. Some of those interviews were done face to face and others were done via e-mail. The interviews were conducted to members of the Basque communities in Rosario, Mendoza, Córdoba, Buenos Aires, Laprida, Chascomus and Bahía Blanca.

While the researcher was doing a research stay in the Boise State University (February-April 2017), Idaho, 8 in depth interviews to members of the Basque Diaspora in Idaho and Nevada were made. All the interviews were recorded by the author and transcribed to a document.

Interviews with responsible of digital editions

In order to know what the Basque digital media responsible think about the communication with the Basque Diaspora and the news related to the Basque communities abroad, 4 interviews to resposibles of the digital version of some Basque newspapers were done. Those newspapers were: El Correo, Berria, Deia and Naiz.

Apart from that, as we saw that members of the Diaspora used to Basque Public Television to be informed about the news in the Basque Country, we also interview Lontzo Sainz, the responsible of the digital edition of EITB, eitb.eus.
Finally, when talking about the communication with the Basque Diaspora, the role of Euskalkultura is vital. We also had an in dept interview with Joseba Etxarri, the director of Euskalkutlura.com, the only Basque Diasporic media written from the Basque Country.

4. Results and discussions

Facebook, as a connecting element

Nevertheless, regarding how they kept informed about Basque current affairs, we saw that there are differences among those in Argentina and in the United States. While the majority of the interviews in Argentina use social media to be informed about the current situation in the Basque Country, in the case of the Basque people in the United States, they all use digital media and international TV channel to be informed: “I watch Teleberri [8] and Gaur Egun, is lunch time for us, so I put it “(personal communication, march 2017, USA). Although we found differences, the majority of them also use social media and most mentioned Facebook as a connecting element.

Regarding media sources they did mention that they knew the EiTB website (eitb.eus); the portal Euskalkultura.com; the newspapers Gara and Deia; the electronic magazine Astero by NABO (North American Basque Organization); the on-line radio station Gaztea (belonging to EiTB). This means that they all knew at least one Basque media outlet even though they did not use them very often. Yet, in the case of Argentina, despite making little use of the above media they agreed unanimously that media digitalization has helped to improve communication between the Basque Country and the Basque diaspora (one of the main aims of Law 8/1994 of May 27). It should be underlined that those interviewed from Argentina emphasized the importance of media digitization regarding the renovation of the image of the Basque Country held by the diaspora: "They enabled us to escape from that folkloric view we had of our grandparents and keep up with the latest news and events in the Basque Country” (Personal communication, may 2016, Argentina). As many other diasporas, thanks the digitaliazion, it has become possible to have an authentic view of what the Basque Country is and abandon the folkloric view so widespread among the diaspora (personal communication, may 2016, Argentina). Hence, it may be stated that thanks to media digitalization the Basques living overseas have a more authentic view beyond the word of mouth view passed on to them or from family memories.

In the case of the United States, they also used Facebook and social media to be informed about the news in the Basque Country but they would give more importance to Deia, Euskalkultura, and EITB.eus.

As far as the effects of this digitalization on the implementation of Law 8/1994 are concerned, several interviews have stated that this factor has contributed to achieving the objectives set out in the law because it gives information about draws for prizes or holidays in which diaspora members can participate, and that makes it intersteing and interactive (personal communication, May 2016, Argentina).

Nevertheless, some disagree with this standpoint and see no significant connection between the two issues: “I think it is exaggerated to say so” (personal communication, May 2017, Argentina) and “I do not believe that the communication takes place as more direct communication between the Basque Government and the euskal etxeak in order to achieve the objectives. Through visits, Basque language programs, programs like Gaztemundu, funding for the Euskal Etxeak on a project by project basis.” (personal communication, May 2016, Argentina).

No need for special newsites

Regarding the heads of the Basque digital media, attention should be paid to that stated by Lontzo Sáinz, head of the EiTB website. Sáinz admitted that the Basque diaspora was not taken into account when elaborating the news for the EiTB digital site: “We stopped producing news articles aimed at the diaspora as we did not see any positive results and they went unread”. Manuel Arroyo, head at elcorreo.com, the on-line version of the best selling newspaper in the Basque Country, told a similar story: “There is no Basque diaspora-specific content: we consider that any one of the news stories published on the leading news site in the Basque Country, that is on elcorreo.com, could be of interest to them.”  Some of the interviews in the United States also said that the Basque Media don’t need to give more information about diaspora, “for those things, it is Euskalkultura.com” (personal communication, March 2017, United States).

Grupo Noticias have adopted a very different strategy: Josetxu Rodríguez, head of deia.com said in the one-to-one interview: “We do not have any specific sections targeting the diaspora, however, we often carry out a series of interviews or weekly reports with people who have relations with them”. Jon Ordoñez, head of the on-line edition of the newspaper Berria, stated that as it was a Basque language medium, all news stories were aimed at a general target audience of anyone who spoke Basque: “Basque is the key for us and hence we target all Basque speakers which also include diaspora members of course. In the event of the issue requiring us to reach out to the Basque community overseas, that is when there are interesting initiatives or news stories focused outside the Basque Country and when initiatives of interest are organized within the Basque Country (Basque weeks, initiatives in favour of solutions to the national issue, diaspora members studying Basque)".

Whereas, the head of the on-line edition of Gara, Naiz, stated that in their case they aimed to maintain relations and did in fact target the diaspora in news stories but that they received little feedback: “It is almost certainly because there is more than one single diaspora and we are unable to respond effectively to this reality” (personal communication, Iñaki Altuna, head of the digital edition of Gara). This way he confirms that stated by Graciana Koehler (personal communication, Bahía Blanca, Argentina): “I do not believe that the mass media or television improve the communication between the diaspora and the Basque Country. It is true that we might be able to gain access to more information but it does not work as a two-way information channel."

This task of creating two-way information is performed by other media channels such as Euskalkultura.com or by blogs disseminating information received by diaspora members or those in the Basque Country but which might be of interest to the diaspora. Gara and Berria also resort to the diaspora to produce some of their news stories (for instance Basque centre members, Basques from the diaspora) and have specific sections about and for the diaspora (diaspora events calendar, diaspora blog and news) yet these have fewer readers than Euskalkultura.com. *It should be highlighted that Euskalkultura.com, euskaletxeak.net or for instance Astero are daily or weekly newsletters for all subscribers of the media.

Hence it is true that on-line newspapers do take into account the diaspora when producing the news stories. However, this is not the case for the site of EiTB, the Basque broadcasting group. The head of EiTB stated that the diaspora consumes eitb.eus to keep informed about news from the Basque Country yet these news stories do not specifically target them and that this is a task performed by Euskalkultura.com He went on: “We are not going to perform a task which Euskalkultura.com is already doing very well” (personal communication, Lontzo Sáinz, head of the EiTB site).

5. Conclusions

Social Networks and Diasporic media: the future of the communication with the Basque Diaspora

One of the objectives set out in Law 8/1994 of May 27 is to “project the knowledge of the reality of the Basque Country to wherever the Basque collectives are located by promoting activities to disseminate, foster and develop the Basque culture and economy”. Although “there is a lot of work to do” still (personal communication, June 2016, United States) it can be said that due to media digitalization it is possible to disseminate the reality of the Basque Country and to provide diaspora members with an up-to-date image of the country, moving on from that "idealized folkloric" image, as some diaspora members have outlined.

We are able to state that as such media digitalization has contributed to improving this communication but not to improving the relations between the diaspora and the Basque Country. Basques living overseas stay informed about Basque current affairs but only due to their own interest. We could say that it is an element involving one-way communication. It does not appear that digitalization has contributed as such to another of the objectives of Law 8/1994: “To foster relations, especially social, cultural and financial ones, with the different peoples where Basque collectives are located, with their institutions and with their different social agents.” Social media, rather than on-line media, has played a significant role in this interaction and in reinforcing relations. Diaspora members interviewed for this research admitted that it was easier to read news stories shared on social media and that there was a more direct relation.

Lastly, another of the objectives of the Law whose fulfilment could be aided by online media should be highlighted: “To facilitate building communication channels between those Basques living outside the Basque Autonomous Community and the public authorities within.” Although some media outlets, such as Gara or Berria, try to do so, they admit that they have not achieved the expected results: “It has been done yes but the outcome has not been, at least until now, as good as expected. It is almost certainly because there is more than one single diaspora and we are unable to respond effectively to this reality (Iñaki Altuna; head of the digital edition of Gara, Naiz).

Hence, we could say that the task of fostering relations and establishing communication channels performed by the “diasporic media” could be undertaken in the Basque case by blogs (“Hella Basque” and “A Basque In Boise”, portals such as Euskalkultura.com, the euskaletxeak.net newsletter or by some on-line magazines (Astero belonging to NABO) mentioned in the research paper, or by social media sites such as Facebook. These are important issues which will undoubtedly prove to be of significant interest for future research.

Diaspora members know the Basque media and consume it when they have an interest in a subject regarding the Basque Country, but not necessarily regarding the diaspora. When they are interested in subjects related to the diaspora (festivals organization in other global locations, dance exhibitions, Basque classes...) they use other media, such as social media, especially Facebook (the pages of Basque centres) or Euskalkultura.com. Facebook, Euskalkultura.com and euskaletxeak.net send news to their subscribers or post it on boards. They seek out the reader and not vice-versa. This is a great help towards news consumption. Thanks to this research we have seen that Euskalkultura a Basque Diasporic Media from the homeland and that it is one of the most important media to give and spread information about the Basque Diaspora drinking both from the Basque Country and from the countries were we could find Basque people. Because of that, the next research will be about the historic evolution of Euskalkultura as a diasporic media and the effect that it has both in the communication with the Basques abroad and when giving information about the Basque communities abroad to the people living in the Basque Country.

*This paper reports on the findings of one aspect of a larger body of research funded by the Vice-rectorate of Basque Language of the University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, the National RDI Programme Aimed at the Challenges of Society via Project CSO2014-56196-R “Application of Hypermedia Convergence in Corporate Communication: Open Communications Room (SCA)” and the Consolidated Research Group IT1081-16.

* Research funded by the Vicerectorate of Basque Language of the University of the Basque Country/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea and within the framework of a project of the BITARTEZ group, Basque University System Research Group (type A) IT1081-16 and Project CSO2014-56196-R of the State Program of Research, Development and Innovation Oriented to the Challenges of Society, Application of Hypermedia Convergence in Corporate Communication: Open Communication Room (SCA).

Notes

[1] Dancing is a very important part of the Basque culture and is a way to maintain the Basque identity abroad.
 
[2] Law 8/1994 of the 27 of May is the law that regulates the relation between the Basque Country and the Basque Diaspora and Basque Centers in different parts of the world. Before that law, there was not a legal framework for that.

[3] International Basque Public Television Channels.

[4] Project the knowledge of the reality of the Basque Country to wherever the Basque collectives are located by promoting activities to disseminate, foster and develop the Basque culture and economy”, “To foster relations, especially social, cultural and financial ones, with the different peoples where Basque collectives are located, with their institutions and with their different social agents” and “To facilitate building communication channels between those Basques living outside the Basque Autonomous Community and the public authorities within”.

[5] Basque Centers

[6] https://www.euskadi.eus/y22-bopv/es/bopv2/datos/1994/06/9402126a.pdf

[7] Gaztemundu (which means the world of the Youngs in Basque language) is a program directed to the young members of the Basque Diaspora organized by the Basque Government. It gives the opportunity to young diaspora members to stay for a 2 weeks period in the Basque Country learning about basque language, music, cooking or leadership and enjoying the culture and the environment of their country of origin.

[8] Teleberri and Gaur Egun are the news in the Basque Public Televison

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How to cite this article in bibliographies / References

M Goirizelaia, L Iturregui (2019): “The impact of the digital media in the relation between the Basque Diaspora and the Basque Country”. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, 74, pp. 1251 to 1263
http://www.revistalatinacs.org/074paper/1382/65en.html
DOI: 10.4185/RLCS-2019-1382en

Paper received on 8 May. Acepted on 22 July.
Published on 29 July.

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