October 31, 2012
Today the National Union of Greek Journalists is going on strike demanding the fulfilling and proper respect of their labour rights after incidences of state censorship seeing the light in the National Broadcast Network (ERT). One week ago two journalists of the morning zone were dismissed after having allegedly hinted against a Minister of the tripartite government. But this is only the ceiling of the iceberg, as tens of journalists are manipulated and supressed to conform with whatever the government is demanding.
One year ago, 145 journalists have been put into “quarantine” for not conforming with the official line of the government. All of them were working at ERT, the Directorate of which is constantly endeavoring to manipulate freedom of speech on behalf of the government.
In Greece, there is the following situation: public media like ERT are exerting censorship to any journalist that implies or clearly advocates against government policy whereas in the majority of private-led media networks freedom of speech is delicately buried under the broadest interests of media men that with direct or indirect means support government policies. This evidence is clearly growing during the last two years after Greece had signed the Memoranda with troika for the balancing of public debt. Austerity measures have directly lowered conditions of working and subsequently narrowed freedom of speech.
Greek governments since 2010 are orchestrically censoring any opposition voice that is not abiding by the propaganda of the government and the media that support it. Hundreds of journalists have lost their job two years now and the official monitoring body of the National Union of Journalists is doing nothing more than resorting to empty statements of “support”.
After that, apart from the austerity measures and the dire consequences they create for the labour workforce, the unemployed, the youth and the pensioners, we are equally witnessing a growing and clear incline towards censorhsip and authoritarianism exerted over journalists that decide to rise their voice and make independent reportages. Even in the blogsphere, anybody that endeavors to challenge the government policy ends up by being an outcast, whatever the experience, the dignity, and the validity of deeds a journalist might have.
Meanwhile, there are media networks that purposedly avoid to invite alternative voices to their panels when dealing with politics, and decide to promote and spread ideas of public figures that are explicitly supporting extreme-right. I definitely believe that mid-term, censorship and selective information can inevitably lead the entire society into paths of obsuritism and the prevail of authoritarianism. In this respect and under such conditions, extreme right will continue increasing its “imposed” influence on the Greek society with unexpected consequences long-term. And this might be finally one of the major side-effects of austerity politics in Greece.Dimitris Rapidis