News broadcasts

The two-day forum on the quality of news programs broadcast by televised media, which was organized by the national broadcast committee (ESR), brought to the fore the poor standards of TV news broadcasts and their growing inanity, their tendency to inflate trivial stories into big ones, and their tedious focus on all sorts of gossip and human tragedies. In keeping with the idea that our times are marked by the superiority of image over speech, television networks have stripped their news programs of all discourse but inarticulate allegations, voyeuristic revelations and a sadistic focus on the pain of everyday dramas. During the forum, none of the television representatives questioned the nature of the disease. Even though all those present attributed the phenomenon to the pursuit of high ratings alone (dismissing any possibility that this is due to the poor taste of executives or to the lack of funds for high-standard productions), they all admitted that the news programs’ long duration and the exclusive use of quantitative rather than qualitative criteria have led to low-quality broadcasts which have been adapted to the lowest common denominator of public interest. Acknowledging the problem, however, does not imply measures to tackle it. Even the proposals put forward by Mega Channel’s news editor, Nikos Hatzinikolaou, on the duration of news broadcasts and the ratings quality, which were set out as a first moderate step, did not meet with unanimous approval on the grounds that some of the proposals are unnecessary (such as that all news broadcasts begin at the same time), while others (like the abolition of ratings) are unrealizable. What was meant by this unfeasibility was highlighted on the very same evening’s news broadcasts. For while the news editors of the different channels agreed on causes of the problem and were, supposedly, seeking ways to upgrade their programs, this was overwhelmed by a new wave of baseness culminating in foolish allegations of fixing the competition for the song that will represent Greece in the Eurovision contest. A large proportion of the public is already annoyed and the recent wave of mudslinging has enhanced the voices that demand more regulation. The television network chiefs have to realize that if they do not introduce the requisite regulations themselves, it will be done by the political powers. And this has never had a positive effect on free journalism.

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