The ethics of journalism and the risk of the press acting as judge and jury

– Art with or without sponsorship? I do not belong to those who believe that black-and-white logic can be applied to most things but to those who believe that culture combines dialectically the demands of the society that needs it with the policy of a government that possesses it and gives it its blessing as a result. How much these legendary «sponsors» in Greek society – enjoying tax-free benefits for sponsorship activities – actually need culture is another issue altogether. And what does the Greek state understand of culture? How much does it invest in cultural commitments? How does it perceive its productive relationship with regard to the future? What significance does it attribute to its dependence on funds and does it appreciate the added value derived from its actions? How indeed does it link «benefaction» with political interest? Angelos Delivorrias – director of the Benaki Museum – Secularity or spirituality in Church life? The emergence and advancement of Christianity in history goes beyond religion and acts as the life within the Holy Spirit. The religious body lives on as «the society of the Holy Spirit,» an entity of charismatic martyrs against kings and rulers, worldly structures and powers, upholding the Faith of Christ, the «light of the world» and «salt of the earth» in the figures of the saints. However as Christians come into closer contact with the world and its challenges, they have often been misled from martyrdom and the struggle to resist, «conforming to the world in order to be transformed by the renewal of mind to prove what is the will of God» (Romans 12.2), leading to a transition from the way of life of the Church to the ways of the decadent and sinful world. A secular form of Christianity prevails as a result, without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; a secular power with ecclesiastical leaders bearing the name of Christians (and Orthodox) who in essence claim temporal power and publicity. Monastic life as continual asceticism fights against secularity, rescues the spiritual and social continuity of the Church through the saints that preserve in every age the authenticity of Christ’s existence, remaining foreign to any dogmatic approach (the West) or its deplorable imitations in the East. Father Giorgos Metallinos – dean of the Theological School of Athens – Can a journalist decide whether someone is guilty or innocent? Anyone can pass judgment on anything. The issue here is how they support their judgment and what evidence is provided. In so far as journalists are concerned, the matter is far from simple for three main reasons: Firstly, the press is a control mechanism of the other three powers. Thus, any judgments published are from the outset heavily loaded. Secondly, journalists assume the status of the media they work for, so their judgments carry particular weight. Thirdly, the audience they address is considerably larger than that of other professions, something that gives greater publicity to their judgments and has consequences on any person concerned. For these reasons, greater stringency, attention and self-control must be exercised when judgment is passed on a particular person. Giorgos Papagounos – professor of philosophy and bioethics at the University of Crete – Does television report or exploit human suffering? Human suffering cannot be suppressed or covered up at the press of a button as happens in reality shows, to put it bluntly. It can and should be addressed with respect and not in melodramatic gabble and gory details. In the majority of cases, television broadcasts human misfortune to make an impression on the viewer, to arouse compassion. It also produces a feeling of relief in the viewer, that there is worse… Although ESR (National Council for Radio and Television) regulations strictly forbid the broadcasting of human images that show moments of intense pain, fury and desperation, these regulations are often violated with the victim’s agreement. We are thus presented with a kinky porn show of emotions during which people are psychologically stripped in front of the camera, the pain becomes measurable and a commodity to be traded. There is a very fine dividing line between compassion and the plundering of human pain. Where to draw the line is not a regulatory issue but a cultural one that has to be decided on a collective and individual basis. Marianna Tziantzi – Kathimerini journalist

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