Media civil war

A malicious but not totally groundless rumor has it that a journalist will have a good word to say about another journalist only if his colleague is present, or else has shuffled off this mortal coil. Nikos Hadzinikolaou, Mega Channel’s anochorman and news editor, deserves to be considered an exception. Barring any well-meant criticism, no one can deny that he went on to become the most capable survivor of the most ruthless reality show around – prime time news. A man with a known political background – which he never denied – Hadzinikolaou managed to prove that one can be objective without being spineless. Of course, we have no say over the selection of the senior executives of any private medium. But the manner of his departure concerns journalists as a whole. Many news reports yesterday depicted Hadzinikolaou as the «collateral damage» of an undeclared war among the channel’s owners, and connected his resignation to the network’s decision to throw its weight behind Prime Minister Costas Simitis in the coming elections. The allegations – both unanswered so far – pose big questions over the way journalists do their job, what is more in the wake of the furor caused by NET state television’s decision to cut Costas Laliotis’s remarks at PASOK’s Central Committee. Greece, of course, is not the only country where journalists experience such interventions. Sadly, however, it is the only one with no reaction from those who should be defending the lost dignity of journalism. In Italy, attempts by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to influence the Corriere della Sera daily triggered a national strike by journalists. In Britain, the BBC clashed with the country’s premier over its independence – and in a time of war. In Greece, behind-the-scenes assignations have paralyzed the journalists’ trade union for two months. Journalists, it seems, have the leaders they deserve.

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