Television’s provincialism

No matter how many years pass, Greek television’s provincialism is unrivaled. The most recent example is the completely over-the-top manner in which television stations dealt with the snow at the weekend in Attica. Danger-mongering reached fever pitch, but what was most striking was the fact that news bulletins dealt with only a single item. Two very significant events took place on Sunday: Kosovo declared independence and presidential elections were held on Cyprus. Greek TV, which has in the past given a recital of over-coverage to Kosovo and to the Annan Plan for Cyprus’s reunification, devoted just a couple of minutes to these developments. In other countries such extensive bulletins are only ever seen during major global events, such as 9/11. However, there is another point of view: that it is probably better for TV stations to talk about the price of tomatoes or the weather, because when they do tackle important issues they tend to make a complete hash of things. The Imia incident in 1996 illustrated just how easy it is for the media to lead the country to crisis. Populism and nationalist fervor always sell better than logical, sober analysis. This is why, in such politically volatile times and with nationalism on the rise it is best for the gutter press to steer clear of such matters. There are, of course, shining examples of journalists and commentators who are methodical and consistently good at their jobs. In Greece, however, we prefer the commentator who is an expert in everything and is ready to speak on every subject after a quick briefing. This is also something you never see in other countries, where commentators are indeed experts in a particular field. This is why the Greek model is so admired abroad, where people can be heard to remark, «What Renaissance types, such a broad spectrum of knowledge, they know everything!»