OPINION

The Fourth Estate

Journalism has unofficially been labeled the fourth estate in the sense that along with the three constitutional powers, the legislative, executive and judicial, it can – or ought to- serve the public good. Reporters have declared, somewhat complacently, that journalism is a vocation in that it should make contributing to society a priority, sidelining material, professional motives. Given this, senior journalists such as ourselves are often asked by friends, relatives and colleagues for our views on the style of journalism promoted by Alpha channel’s Makis Triandafyllopoulos and his followers. In other words, we were asked whether a journalist should be allowed to use controversial police interrogation tactics, play the role of prosecutor and judge and, finally, don the mantle of a legislator by recommending what measures were needed to combat problems. We senior journalists would answer this question with a categorical no. But we were pre-empted by the major victims of media abuse – the three estates, that is – who actually gave a positive answer to the question. Triandafyllopoulos’s program prompted Prime Minister Costas Simitis to expel Alexandros Chrysanthakopoulos from PASOK’s parliamentary group. The same television show forced the country’s prime minister to finally confront the phenomenon of gambling and to summon a broad interministerial meeting to discuss how it could be tackled (it should be noted that repeated allegations by the opposition about illegal gambling had previously been rejected as smear tactics). The public order minister invited Triandafyllopoulos – rather than the responsible state bodies – to inform him of the activity of illegal gambling rings and to consult with him, for one and a half hours, on what should be done. The same program is used as a lever to mobilize judicial power. In other words, the ruling party which holds executive power and which controls – by means of a parliamentary majority – legislative power has not only vindicated Triantafyllopoulos’s mode of journalism. In fact, it has fully succumbed to its demands. As for the opposition, the police authorities, the prosecutors and the other institutional bodies, they have no other option but to be incorporated into Triandafyllopoulos’s show. It is only through this program that they will be able to carry out their duties effectively and, above all, reliably. Sources close to the talks told AFP that neither side has so far budged in its views over a federal versus a two-state model solution. No real progress is expected until after the talks break for the weeklong Turkish holiday of Bairam at the end of February, the sources added.