Yannis Andritsopoulos Case about the Greek Media

The European Journalism Centre is reviewing the journalism industry in 2010 with the help of colleagues from around the world.

Following on from South Pacific journalist Jason Brown and second in the review series is Yannis Andritsopoulos, a Greek journalist and broadcasting specialist currently working as a full-time staff writer for Ta Nea daily newspaper in Athens, covering social and technological issues.
Sum up the journalism industry in 2010 in your own words

The media sector is, so far, one of the main victims of the financial crisis in Greece. The numerous redundancies in several news organisations and significant cuts in media budgets during the past months are the main blows which have struck the media industry to date.

As newspapers’ circulations fall and the revenues of all media streams (including television and radio) reduce, the future for journalists is uncertain. So far in Greece three major newspapers have closed, two dailies and one Sunday edition. As a result hundreds of journalists, technicians and other personnel have lost their jobs. Journalists’ unions began several strikes over austerity measures, denouncing recent mass layoffs and demanding the signing of collective agreements by media employers.

What was your journalism industry highlight from 2010?

The year 2010 was a landmark for the Greek media industry, mainly because it marked its ongoing transition to a new era, which is more digital and less print. The most remarkable event was probably the switch from print to online that To Vima newspaper made. One of the oldest and most historic Greek newspapers (first published in 1922), it stopped its daily print edition in November 26th, 2010, keeping only its Sunday edition on paper. The editor wrote in his last editorial:

“Yesterday, approximately 90,000 readers read ‘To Vima’. Only 8,000 of them have read the print edition. The overwhelming majority, more than 82,000, preferred the online edition. Millions of people have stopped reading daily newspapers and seek information in the online media instead. ‘To Vima’ accepts this challenge and is getting ready for its big day”.

The same editor announced the launch of a brand new online edition in the beginning of 2011, as a “response to the demands of the times”.

As the circulation of all newspapers fall, many analysts think that To Vima has “shown the way” that other newspapers will follow, sooner or later. The level of success of its new online venture, which is yet to come, will probably serve as a barometer of the Greek journalism industry’s next moves.

And industry low?

The low point of Greek journalism in 2010 was the assassination of the journalist Sokratis Giolias, which took place on 19 July, 2010. He was the director of Thema Radio, a private radio station in Athens, and the founder of the news blog ‘Troktiko’, which became one of the most visited web destinations in Greece. Troktiko often covered controversial social and political issues. A few days after Giolias’ death, the blog was closed, citing security reasons.

Giolias, 37, was shot approximately 15 times at close range outside his home in Athens. A young domestic terrorist group, called ‘Sechta Epanastaton’ [Sect of Revolutionaries] claimed responsibility for his execution. Giolias was the first reporter to be murdered in Greece in over 25 years.

Who has been the most influential person in the journalism industry in 2010 and why?

I think that the most influential person in journalism in Greece was actually a group of people, the news team of Mega Channel, the most popular TV station in the country. Its evening programme, named ‘Mega Gegonota’ [Mega News], is the top viewed newscast in Greece and is considered to be the most infuential news programme. It is presented by anchorwoman Olga Tremi and two main news commentators, Pavlos Tsimas and Yannis Pretenderis.

Government ministers and other state officials appear almost on a daily basis on Mega Channel’s newscast. A memorable broadcast was during the day of the government’s reshuffle (6 September, 2010), when a minister was texting a news commentator while on air, sending him potential names of politicians that may take office!

What do you envisage for the industry in the decade ahead, and how will your own career fit within this?

I believe that great structural changes are about to happen in the media industry. We have already experienced some of those changes, having witnessed the advent of the Internet over the past few years. Many claim that online media directly threatens traditional media and perhaps they do. But they certainly don’t threaten journalists, at least not those who are still in the field of journalism. The Internet is actually a great tool for the advancement of journalism, so it’s not wise to demonize it. On the contrary, we, as journalists, have to adjust to the new reality, unless we want to disappear. Newspapers are already facing the danger of extinction, because they can’t compete with the Internet. The business model needs to change.

Social media, citizen journalism and even the recent ‘leaks phenomenon’ are all changing the structure of our profession. However in the digital era credible news sources are needed more than ever. Thus the great challenge for us as journalists is to convince our audience that we are still needed to do the ‘dirty work’: crosschecking, investigation, news interpretation. Online media are here to stay. So are the journalists.

As far as my own career is concerned, I currently work for the online edition of my newspaper as well as the print version, and I’m happy to explore the new features of this medium in the future. Time will tell!

What are your top online journalism tips/follows/‘likes’ for 2011

I will just cite the online media tools I often visit and that facilitate my work:

* In.gr is the largest news portal on the Greek Internet
* Tanea.gr is the online edition of “Ta Nea”, the best-selling daily newspaper in Greece
* Naftemporiki.gr is a news portal run by Naftemporiki daily newspaper
* Enet.gr is the online edition of Eleftherotypia, the second best-selling daily newspaper

Twitter is not a really popular online tool in Greece yet, so actually there are no ‘top Tweeters’ as such. But I would recommend the following three:

* Asteris Masouras, a freelance photojournalist and digital rights activist
* Stathis Haikalis, An experienced communications specialist
* Panagiotis Papachatzis, a social media consultant and blogger

Last but not least the daily newsletter of the European Journalism Centre. It’s so helpful!

*Call for writers
Looking for journalists from around Europe to report on the media landscape in their backyard. Bring original insights into innovations or challenges in your area of the EU related to print, online, television, copyright, video and mobile journalism.
They might even pay you. Queries to editors@ejc.net .

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