Distorting screens

Coolheadedness, if not objectivity, is supposed to be a fundamental quality in journalism. In this job there is no room for politics or friendship. Otherwise, there is no sense in claiming to be a journalist, which involves searching for the truth. Everyday I see, hear and read about people making outrageous claims that are quite clearly divorced from reality. Their passion, often bordering on hysteria, is truly stunning. Investigative journalism requires passion, but when passion gets in the way of clear judgment, then it leads to meaningless gabble or unfounded exaggeration. Our TV screens are filled with such stuff on a daily basis. It’s hard to say what lies behind this hysteria. Some argue that it is the unceasing pursuit of ever-higher ratings. Others conjure up dark power centers that usually exist only in the imagination. Others have a far simpler explanation: It’s the fact, they say, that most Greek journalists have a leftist or center-left background. A large segment of Greece’s media, the theory goes, has a stake in the socialist opposition. As a result, the government is targeted even for minor omissions. As usual, the truth lies somewhere in between. But one thing is certain: The government’s collective political judgment is completely immature, and solidarity among conservative cadres is equally flawed. However, although a crucial segment of middle-ground voters agree that the government is inadequate, they also reject the hysterical attacks against it as unjustified. A large chunk of the electorate out there believes that the quality of Greece’s media coverage is no less of a problem than the government’s inertia. Perhaps this explains why the conservatives are still leading opinion polls by three percentage points when, judging from the news bulletins, they should be trailing PASOK by 10.