OPINION

Checks and balances

Many people have expressed shock at the phone-hacking scandal that continues to rock Britain. Could such things really be happening in the UK — a Western democracy where individual rights are paramount? Could the country?s biggest news organization — and one of the biggest in the United States — resort to this sort of tactic, and also in cooperation with Scotland Yard and with the tacit support of British politicians?

Well, as it turns out, it could.

In Western democracies such scandals tend to break out when one person is able to amass too much power (Rupert Murdoch), particularly when they are surrounded by overtly ambitious individuals (Rebekah Brooks).

Throw in a fair dose of political influence and corruption and you?ll have an explosive mix that leads to disregard for the law, disregard for ethics and disregard for civic rights.

Things become even more perilous when all this implicates an English-language news organization that has enough power to affect political developments and influence public opinion on a global scale.

In a sign of comfort, the British authorities lived up to their duty and order in Britain was restored — even if that meant that some of the establishment?s key players had to relinquish their status.

In Greece all that would be unthinkable. On the one hand, no media group has ever concentrated so much power. On the other, the media environment is quasi-anarchic.

Like every other sector in the country, the media industry too operates in a state of impunity.

We seem to experience a type of mediocracy that has subjugated political and executive power, while journalists style themselves as experts and judges without always having the necessary knowledge, reason or responsibility.

Not all of Greece?s media behave in the same manner. But many of them — including a considerable number of blogs — do.

Some employ tactics like those used by the News of the World. Not because they have an eye set on power or because they are driven by some ulterior motive, but mainly to serve interests, to put pressure on the ruling party and, most importantly, because they are worried about the effectiveness of the country?s checks and balances.