A decade in front pages

Politicians, the economic crisis and schools, the protagonists of ARA’s first front page

Auri Garcia Morera

1st January 2021

ARA’s first 10 years have been very intense

We have published


front pages See the

What would happen if we put them all together?

They would take up




a bit more than a basketball court

Side by side, they would measure



almost as much as all of Passeig de Gràcia, from Plaça Catalunya to Diagonal

From top to tail, they would measure



ten times taller than the tallest building in Barcelona, the Hotel Arts

But most importantly:

What have we talked about?

Analysing the content of all the front pages, we can see which the main issues of the decade have been. Names of politicians and world leaders appear towards the top, with Mariano Rajoy slightly above Artur Mas and Donald Trump far above Angela Merkel; but keywords such as crisis or school have also appeared often on the front page.

These were the most commonly recurring topics in: Politics, International, Economy, Society, Culture, Sport, Special Issues

Front pages All Topic


Kings and presidents come and go

The day ARA was born, on 28th November 2010, Artur Mas wins the elections that allow him to become president of Catalonia, taking over from José Montilla. In 2016, when he leaves the post, his appearances plummet

Aquest gràfic mostra el nombre d'aparicions en portada de cada tema, mes a mes, del desembre del 2010 al novembre del 2020.

Aquí pots veure una mostra de les portades de cada tema destacat. Si accedeixes a l'interactiu des d'un ordinador, veuràs totes les portades de cada tema.

Carles Puigdemont is president for a shorter but more intense time, which finishes with the Declaration of Independence, exile and the failed investiture. Nevertheless, he remains very present thereafter

Quim Torra has a very strange time in office: it is less intense and the presidents protagonism fades. The focus shifts to the pandemic and a trial that occasionally captures a lot of attention

Mariano Rajoy becomes president of Spain in 2011, taking over from José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Rajoy will be president for the greater part of the decade, but will disappear from the front pages after his defeat in the vote of no confidence

Pedro Sánchez’s presence on the front page is intermittent for many years. When he becomes president in 2018, he gains protagonism; in 2020, he does so due to the management of the pandemic

Another important institutional change is the abdication of Juan Carlos I in 2014, which does not prevent him from appearing in scandals in subsequent years

Felipe VI appears more than his father, especially during autumn 2017, when he intervened in the independence bid

Parties are born, parties die

CiU, CDC and Unió, hegemonous in 2010, no longer exist in 2020

In contrast, Partit Demòcrata and later Junts per Catalunya were born

Another important party, ICV, disappeared in this decade

Their space has been occupied, under different names, by Comuns and Podemos

CUP, which until then was only present in town councils, enters Parliament in 2012 and holds the balance for the investiture in 2015

Another novelty is Vox, which stands in the European elections of 2014 for the first time and obtains its first representative in the Spanish elections of 2019

Independence bid ended in jail

During this decade, plenty of votes have been held, and front pages have covered candidates, campaigns, elections and investitures

At the beginning of the decade, Catalan politics turned around the fiscal pact

After 2012, independence takes centre ground, boosted by groups such as ANC and Òmnium

They key moments are the consultation on 9 November 2014 and the Referendum on 1 October 2017

After the declaration of independence in 2017, the bid finishes with the imposition of direct rule from Madrid and jail

Judicialisation and corruption

Courts and rulings have played an important role, partly due to the judicialisation of the independence bid

But also due to the many cases of corruption and tax fraud

In Catalonia, the Palau case and the Pujol case stand out, including the ex-president’s public confession

In Spain, the Nóos case affects the Royal Family and the Gürtel case the PP’s illegal financing


Between Trump and Merkel

The decade starts with Barack Obama’s first term in the White House

In 2016, with Donald Trump’s victory, a very different period starts, constantly marked by controversy

Joe Biden, vice president under Obama, won the elections in 2020, yet Trump refuses to leave

In Europe, Angela Merkel stands out. She has been the German chancellor since 2005 and is Trump’s antithesis

China’s rise

By country, the United States is by far the country that has the highest presence on the front page, far above any European country

Greece, due to the economic crisis, and Syria, because of the war, have also dominated the front pages occasionally

The great background transformation is China’s rise, an increasingly important player

From Brexit to refugees

When we look at Europe, front pages talk about Brussels, the European Union and the European Commission

One of the most important events is Brexit, the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, which is voted for in 2016 and becomes effective in 2020

The European Union is also questioned due to its role in the refugee crisis, which dominates front pages in 2015 especially, but also in 2018 and 2020


Two economic crises

The decade has had two great economic crises. The first gave us many front pages with the words crisis and euro

During the first half of the decade, front pages talked a lot about risk premiums and bailouts

In Spain, the bailout was centred around the banks, and Savings Banks disappeared

Between the Tax Office and unemployment

The minister responsible for the Tax Office, Cristóbal Montoro, and the Tax Office itself have put in many appearances on the front page

Technical concepts, such as deficit and debt, have also been very present

As well as others, with a more direct impact on citizens, such as budget cuts and taxes

We have also talked about the main problem, unemployment, and the most affected, workers

Problems with infrastructures

Labour conflicts have affected infrastructure such as El Prat airport, which has come to a standstill on various occasions

Barcelona World, a project which was presented as a great opportunity to create jobs, also had problems

Worries about tourism and housing

This has been the decade in which tourism has been seen as worrying for the first time

The housing situation has also deteriorated, despite the mid-decade respite


Public health care has been on the front page due to cuts, waiting lists and doctors’ demands

In the last year, it has also featured as the coronavirus pandemic drove the system to brink of collapse

School and language immersion

Schools and Universities have also been on the front page, partly because of cuts

But they have also featured as a result of Wert’s education law and the offensive against schooling in Catalan

More feminism and green movements

The feminist cause is amongst those that have grown the most, especially around March 8th, which now sees protests held which draw an increasingly massive support

The fight against climate change was prominent, especially around the Climate Summits in Paris (2015) and Madrid (2019), coinciding with the Greta Thunberg phenomenon

All kinds of mobilisations

During these years, the number of all kinds of strikes and demonstrations has multiplied

The Indignados protest movement, which didn’t have a specific cause, broke out suddenly in 2011 and slowly fizzled away

Safety and terrorism

Front pages have talked a lot about the police in general and the Mossos d’Esquadra in particular, partly due to their response to protests

But especially in relation to terrorism in general and the Barcelona and Cambrils attacks on 17th August 2017

Changeover in the Vatican

In February 2013, Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, abdicated. Thus, he became the first to do so since 1415

His successor, Jorge Bergoglio, Pope Francis, has been more open to reform and appeared more often on the front page


A varied offer

Protagonism in the culture section is shared and names are not often repeated. Words such as concert or festival appear frequently

Every weekend, the word film appears as we cover the latest releases

So does books, with our weekend supplement, Ara Llegim


Messi and Guardiola’s decade

In sports, ARA’s beginning coincided with a 5-0 victory for Barça in el clásico and the club’s best ever years. Lately, the club is in decadence and appears less frequently on the front page

Pep Guardiola, the most successful manager, featured quite often during his contract extensions and departure in 2012

So did his successor, Tito Vilanova, who won a record-breaking league in 2013 and died of cancer in 2014

All along, the light always shone on Leo Messi, who last summer featured more often because of his attempts to leave the club

Special Issues

Curated by artists and illustrated

Throughout the decade, ARA has published various special issues curated by artists and creators, ranging from Miquel Barceló, to Jaume Plensa, Perejaume or Ferran Adrià.

Since 2013, on World Children’s Day a newspaper is illustrated with drawings made by children; since 2016, the newspaper is illustrated with cartoons on occasion of the Barcelona Comic Salon.

Every grey rectangle
represents a front page.
If you hover over it,
you will get a preview.
Click to see an
enlarged version.

The front pages
related to the topic
will appear in blue.

Methodological note

This visualisation is based on a word frequency analysis, which has given us a data base with 224,440 registers. After a manual revision, we have corrected false positives for words and expressions which may have different meanings in different contexts, such as surnames which may may coincide with common words. If you find any similar cases, you can let us know at web@ara.cat.

Do you
want more?

Explore all the front pages on the interactive mosaic


Exhibition at the Palau Robert

ARA has, from the beginning, stood out for its monographic front pages, with great attention paid the them both conceptually and aesthetically. We have had artist editions (with Barceló, Perejaume, Plensa…) drawn by children, about comics – and we have also borne witness to key events in Catalonia, Spain and the world. The exhibition Les portades d’una dècada (Front pages of a decade) is on from 1st December to 31st January in the garden of the Palau Robert in Barcelona. It is a journey through those key moments through a selection of 68 front pages shown in large format.

Until 31st January 2021. More information


Ricard Marfà


Jordi Guilleumas - Idoia Longan - Marc Funollet