Priorities all wrong

Two major events coincided last Saturday, enough to cause any respected news medium or journalist to vacillate. The first was the participation of millions of people in anti-war rallies across the world which took place in the wake of an historic UN Security Council session. The second was the visit by Constantine De Grecia to Greece. Faced with this dilemma, Greece’s private television channels once again did not hesitate to break fresh ground: While all of the world’s television channels centered on the striking demonstrations and their potential political repercussions, Greek channels snubbed the local protests, to the extent of ignoring the size of the Athens rally, and with the exception of some brief news broadcasts on isolated incidents of rampage caused by a few masked youths, they turned their cameras exclusively on the former king. Nothing escaped their attention. The coach, the royalist sympathizers, the little evzone-dolls bought at the souvenir shops, the deposed monarch pointing at the Parthenon, the Pentelicon hotel, the chef, Marie Chantal’s hairstyle, the children’s love for the zeibekiko traditional dance. News bulletins fit into a pattern of light, lifestyle programs. Not one resisted the temptation of sacrificing real news for the sake of non-news. Once again, standard journalistic priorities were turned on their heads. Once again, those who expected to get some information about the day’s major events were let down. And this time, it did not concern a Greek political event but public reaction worldwide, an event of global significance. An event related to war and global disarray. If the crackdown on the November 17 terrorist organization highlighted the failure of Greek television channels to host serious political dialogue, if the coverage of AEK strongman Makis Psomiadis underscored the media’s yearning for the trivial, this weekend we witnessed the systematic distortion of news. This is not serious news coverage. This is a cheap, distorting mishmash that insults our intelligence. The heads of television channels seem to have lost their resistance. Renowned journalists are also responsible for failing to show some backbone, to stem this tide of trivia. Television news bulletins, like newspapers, are not brought out on their own, nor directly by their owners. The final product also depends on all of us who work in the media. The final product is our responsibility and our mirror image.