As mentioned in last Sunday’s editorial, 17 November is a date of great significance for us Greeks since it commemorates the tragic events of an initially massive student demonstration that turned into an open anti-junta revolt in Athens in 1973; the uprising lasted 4 days and was a direct opposition to the 7-year-long oppression of military dictatorship. Some died, many were injured; all of us were marked; young, innocent blood oozes from wounds that never heal.
In an effort to avoid the undesired protests that occur every year on this date and under the pretext of Covid-19 protection, the chief of police (!) announced on behalf of the current, right-wing government that all public meetings of more than 3 people were to be banned between 15-18 of November. The last time public gatherings were banned was during the Junta, the exact regime against which this date stands for. Long story short, people did defy the ban, did join the commemorative protest, did become victims of extreme police brutality who is terrorising the country ever since the current government has let them loose to do so. As I honestly am at a loss for words on all this horrendous information, I have many thoughts that I would like to share on how the media handled this and their overall stance the last few months. Here it goes.
As I am sure most of you are, I am subscribed to various newsletters, which I receive periodically through my digital post. As such, 3 days ago, I was getting my casual, local update through a self-proclaimed independent journalistic organisation. It is on this occasion and in combination to the police brutality mentioned above that I got skeptical about who has access to me and what is the information that I am being fed to. Whereas there were reportedly people with smashed heads, the newsletter made no such mention; instead, it was talking about a woman who on her way to leave some flowers to Polytechneion, the Greek polytechnic school where the tragic events took place in 1973, she got fined by policemen for not complying to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions; the woman’s fine was canceled, as clarified, by the chief of police himself.
WTF? People are getting attacked, arrested and held in custody under no COVID-precautious conditions and the most representative piece of information that you are sharing with me is this!? Who are you exactly, having direct access to my mailbox and attempting to make me believe that we are being reigned by a lawful government and police who are rushing to the rescue of the citizens and are ready to right their wrongs publicly and immediately?
Being a firm supporter of immediate action and feedback, I unsubscribed at once and send a thorough explanatory email to the aforementioned newsletter. I believe it is important to voice dissatisfaction in detail and give the chance to people and organisations to become better versions of themselves.
Or not? Do they really want to become better? What does better even mean? In an effort to have a more in-depth understanding of the current, Greek media status, I spent some time reading and researching existing media outputs and their content. Sure, newspapers are not angelic, but what really exceeded my worst expectations is of course tele-journalism. Terror and repulsion. Shortly after the Covid-19 outbreak, the Greek TV channels got a state funding of 11 million euros (!) for—what else?—doing their job on informing us about the existence of the pandemic and how we should protect ourselves.
Ever since, the media have gradually turned into information sorters, solely broadcasting news that favour the governing party and bury all incriminating evidence stating otherwise. It saddens me deeply to witness the gradual annihilation of Greek journalism during Covid-19 and its detrimental metamorphosis into state propaganda. Nothing new here in terms of media manipulation, but definitely a-never-seen-before support to the government. Is this right? Is this wrong? Is this virtuous? I think reflection is mandatory in order to draw assumptions.
If journalism is, in its most basic form, the process of gathering and presenting factual information, its virtuous intentions could most definitely and by default be debatable. So, is there any hope that the truth will shine? Is there any way to gain access to more objective and broad-spectrum information?
Being a hopelessly—or hopefully?—romantic person, I would say yes to both. There is hope that the truth will shine, by developing critical opinion and filter through all information in order to derive fairer assumptions, if possible. There is a way to gain access to more objective and broad-spectrum information, by utilising social media and their immense power of instant dissemination -#happening now. I recently set up a Twitter account. Of course, I am only now discovering it, but I must admit that it feels less filtered and more honest than the most trustworthy media platform. It certainly is biased, since there people are sharing their opinions, an action that creates for sure impressions and trends. But this offers access to a different aspect of journalism: the raw, uncensored public opinion.
As an Instagram user for quite some time now, I have collected some personally favourite accounts which I am following and whose feed I am consuming responsibly. Moreover, I regularly tune in some other, much appreciated voices on different media platforms. Feel free to browse through their content and share with me your opinions and of course your personal favourites. Most importantly, ask yourself some questions and try to make some personal observations on how you, we, gain access to information. Are we pro objectivity or subjectivity? Do we want this, that or both and even better, do we deserve it? Should we earn it? Are the media accessing us reflecting our care, or lack thereof, for the information we consume? Have a lovely Sunday.