Squeaky wheel gets the oil

We often argue that politicians do not address the real issues, that they spend their time sparring and forming alliances, and that, overall, strong stances are lacking from politics. This is true – sometimes. Except that often when politicians do state their positions, no one pays attention, especially those whose job it is to record the news in politics, that is: journalists. For example, an interview by Sunday’s Kathimerini with Evangelos Venizelos (on October 21) met with deafening silence from other media, and this is not because it wasn’t newsworthy but because he didn’t stir things up. The candidate for the leadership of PASOK expressed his views on a variety of topics, from society to social security and educational reform. He also made a number of interesting suggestions (such as, for example, four-year middle school and two-year college-style high school), as well as some foolhardy ones (high taxes for innovative businesses, which are capital-intensive). But there were no barbs or accusations or other elements to attract media attention, so no one paid any notice. Another example is from the PASOK national convention, where Theodoros Pangalos presented an interesting analysis of Greek society. All we got from reports was that Pangalos would be supporting George Papandreou’s bid for the party’s presidency because he is nothing like Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. A third example is that of the director of a major daily newspaper who argued on a panel that PASOK lost the September elections because it did not present a party program. When one of the other panelists pointed out that the Socialists had issued their program in March 2007, the newsman said, looking down his nose, «Yes, but they did not communicate it.» The truth is that this was a major drawback and it cost PASOK the elections, but where does the journalists’ irresponsibility come in? Aren’t they they ones who are supposed to convey what is going on in the political world to citizens? Isn’t it the job of journalists to convey reality as truly as possible? And if political parties and other bodies can «communicate» their programs and positions on their own, then where do journalists fit in? The country is certainly facing a political crisis, but this is not entirely the fault of the politicians. The way political journalism operates in this country foments the conditions for Gresham’s Law («bad money drives out good») to come into play. So in politics, chest-thumping drives out policy, loud voices overshadow those that have something to say and the serious are driven out by the loons. This last category hasn’t got a chance when it comes to publicity, whatever positions they take. Unless, of course, they throw in a barb or two, or make a few accusations.