OPINION

PR exercises

Even tragic incidents, like the deadly school coach crash on Monday, are these days seen as an opportunity for a public relations exercise. The same holds true for the electronic media and for some among our younger-generation (though hardly modern) politicians, but the tendency is equally distasteful among all. On radio and television, the recommended procedure is normally dictated by a dual agenda: big ratings and the political exploitation of the issue depending on the owners’ political alignment. It is tragicomic that in the face of this competition, which is based on images of horror and pain, a private TV channel chose not to broadcast any scenes of the carnage – obviously in an attempt to be different. The attempt to make political capital out of the issue turns the media very eclectic. For example, following the Chinook accident off Mount Athos, a large section of the media focused on the government’s delay in launching a rescue operation and not on why or under what procedures a defective army chopper was purchased. Although the state apparatus reacted swiftly to the bus accident, the same media circles centered on the lack of police presence on the dangerous spots of the national highway, the «forced» transfer of pupils to watch the Paralympics, and the poor servicing of school coaches. True, the exploitation of every incident or issue for political expediency has little to do with the substance – the exploration of truth for the extraction of the right conclusions. The aim, rather, is to make an impression in order to manipulate or mislead the viewing public. In the same spirit, PASOK spokesman Spyros Vougias resigned after weathering six days of nepotism allegations – taking advantage of the road tragedy headlines to downplay his own political crash landing.