by Kai Prager, Media Relations Representative, Business Wire/Frankfurt
Freelance journalist Thimios Kotronias says Greek media’s biggest problem is financial shortfall. “Greek media struggle to survive,” said Kotronias. “The majority are owned by businessmen whose main activities are irrelevant to the media industry. They use profits from their main activities to support financially the media they own.” With the Greek economy in shambles, profits are down across all sectors and thus resources for media outlets are shrinking.
Add to that decreasing sales and lack of advertising revenues at the properties, and you have a difficult position, said Kotronias.
Many believe the quality of news coverage has suffered. A writer for Lambrakis Press, who did not wish to be identified, remarked that “When a country is in a crisis, the first thing the government does is try to lower the quality of information so that people don’t take matters into (their own) hands. And because of the dramatic drop in advertising revenues, journalists have to keep advertisers satisfied. In some cases, advertisers actually decide the content of the articles.”
“So far the quality of content has not been affected in the major media but there is a lot of emphasis on the coverage of financial-political issues to the exclusion of other topics,” noted Stambolis.
Aris Chatzistefanou, who has worked for a number of major Greek publications, believes that tightening media budgets results in a lack of research.
“Many TV stations had to stop all travel abroad while they are more often using tools like Skype for their live broadcasting,” Chatzistefanou said.
But the main problem relates to the decision by many media organizations to rely on inexperienced young journalists who work without insurance, benefits and for little pay, said Chatzistefanou.
Greek journalists face a PR challenge as public opinion has shifted, leaving mainstream media as the second most hated group of people in Greece–after politicians, said Chatzistefanou.
“During big demonstrations in Athens, people shout slogans at the media or even specific news anchormen and anchorwomen,” Chatzistefanou recounted. “Just a few weeks ago a famous journalist from SKAI television was attacked by citizens.” Some journalists are said to use bodyguards in their public appearances and are characterized as “parrots of the government,” he said.
In such an environment, the newsworthy, well-written press release is appreciated, said Stambolis, and can provide valuable source material for overworked journalists.
“A well-written press release is always welcome,” he said, “especially if it has news content which is unique and not easily accessible from here (Greece). Most journalists take note of the press release and search further on the story and other times they just publish it ‘as is’ if it fits with the rest of the media content.”Costis Stambolis is the managing editor of Energia.gr, contributor to the Financial Mirror in Cyprus and executive director of the Institute of Energy for SE Europe. Thimios Kotronias is a freelance journalist and writer for EJC Online Magazine and for the Dutch I Am Expat website. Aris Chatzistefanou is journalist, author of three books, editor in Chief of The Press Project and co-creator of Debtocracy. More information can be found on his web site.