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Comunicar Journal 66: Public schools for educational transformation in the Knowledge Society (Vol. 29 - 2021)

Media representation of minors who migrate on their own: The 'MENA' in the Spanish press


Juan-David Gómez-Quintero

Jesús-C. Aguerri

Chabier Gimeno-Monterde


This article analyses Spanish media treatment of a certain type of immigrant: the unaccompanied foreign minor ('MENA' in Spanish). The media play an important role in creating and disseminating ideas and images amongst the general public, thereby promoting the articulation of sets of meanings called discourses. The main goal of this research is to identify the discursive approaches that have been constructed around the term “MENA” in the main Spanish daily newspapers. To this end, we gathered and analysed all the news reports published between January 2017 and October 2019 by the digital editions of the four most widely-read newspapers in Spain (La Vanguardia, El País, El Mundo and ABC). This analysis was performed using text mining techniques (an important field in data science) such as term frequency, inverse document frequency, and correlation networks between words. Our results show that the term “MENA” evokes a criminalising, moralistic, welfare-dependent discourse that is articulated from an adult-centric, nationalist perspective. The study concluded that the conservative press uses the acronym more frequently than the left-wing media. However, no significant discursive differences were observed between conservative and progressive press in terms of the language used, which often had negative connotations that stigmatised the young people concerned.


Teens, immigrants, press, content analysis, text mining, MENA

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