COMMENT

The role of the media

By Alexis Papachelas

Journalists are paid for, among other things, expressing criticism and assigning responsibility. By and large, we have concluded that all the ills of this country are the fault of politicians, a rotten state, the troika, the justice system and so on. But are we possibly culpable as well? I believe we are, and to a great degree.

Where was Greek journalism when the scandals that are seeing the light of day right now were unfolding? Some journalists were too lazy to pursue the stories, others allowed themselves to become too involved with the glamorous side of the job, and others still were too cowardly to see their investigations through. Generally, though, while the crime was being committed, Greek journalists, as well as many other mechanisms which have a monitoring role, failed at the task.

What is behind this failure? First of all, the fact that we have all become too chummy in this country: Politicians, state officials and journalists became one big happy family that liked to coddle each other and the hierarchy; roles and diving lines were erased. There are certain journalists from these circles who are now accusing their buddies of crimes. There was also the phenomenon of the journalist/player, who had every finger in a different political or business pie. In no other country in the world will you see so many messages/threats in between the lines of writers? columns.

As far as the media bosses are concerned, the majority failed to work together as a coordinated group to safeguard the public interest, and focused instead on getting higher ratings, more sales and more deals in their parallel business activities. Unfortunately, when they realized what their lack of vision and principles had resulted in, it was too late.

The Greek media are also guilty of pandering to the masses, of putting a populist twist on every issue. They backed everybody: the farmers demanding more subsidies, civil servants who wanted raises, everybody. This gave journalists and media owners a bigger public and allowed them to pressure politicians facing difficult decisions.

Every single journalist in Greece has a responsibility because, as a body, the media failed in their role. Other chickened out, others couldn?t be bothered and others didn?t want to risk losing their perks. The fact is we have certainly played a role in sinking this country.

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