Airing sentiment at the expense of facts

Last Sunday, Greek television channels fought for ratings in their 8 p.m. news bulletins. The predominant – and virtually exclusive – subject of these bulletins was the defeat of the Greek national basketball team by Spain in the world championship final. All the major channels aired the cliche that Greece got «the silver in the final but the gold in our hearts.» And virtually all the channels devoted their bulletins to describing how the Greeks felt after the victory (as if they were targeting a non-Greek audience). We were also offered in-depth interviews with former basketball player and Piraeus mayoral hopeful Panayiotis Fassoulas, with Greek basketball coach Panayiotis Yiannakis and with the latter’s wife, daughter, neighbor etc. The channel that specializes in airing the opinions of anonymous but attractive young women, filmed Soula, Toula and her friends offering their take on the game as the cameraman remained riveted to their respective cleavages. But there was one rather important thing that the channels failed to mention during the first 20 minutes of their reportage – the final score of the game. Sunday evening’s news bulletins managed to discuss everything about the game but its outcome. Someone who had been unable to see the game, for whatever reason, will have realized that Greece had lost but not by how much. And all the desperate zapping in the world would not have helped. Some may counter that it was not necessary to broadcast a result that most of Greece was aware of. Others may claim that the 70-47 final score was too dismal to mention. And some may even insist that normal journalistic rules should be suspended when covering Greece’s participation in major events such as the world basketball final. Maybe these are all valid points but there is another, very significant, point to be made. Greek television has long abandoned its traditional duty of conveying information. It prefers to convey emotions – whether these are linked to the humanitarian disaster in Lebanon or to our national team’s defeat at basketball.