Thursday 8 November 2012

Athens riots 7/11/2012 - Greek media blackout

According to the BBC's Mark Lowen and Russia Today's Peter Oliver, there was a lot going on in the streets of Athens last night. The rioting was not broadcast on any Greek TV channel, which is a good thing if you are in charge of a media corporation and want to keep your viewers in the dark. It's not so good, however, if you are Greek and want to be informed about what is going on in your country.

This is the New Greek Crisis, where the vast majority of journalists know to keep their mouths shut. Unemployment, after all, is running at 25%.  Anyone who speaks out about what is happening in this country - the journalists Kasimi and Arvanitis of state-funded ERT, for example - runs a serious risk of losing their job. Others, like Kostas Vaxevanis, find themselves in court in record time, accused of breaching privacy laws.  

In Greece, the media and the politicians have been in each other's pockets for years. When the latest crippling austerity package was approved by Parliament late last night - by a majority of three votes - a couple of channels, Skai and Mega, saw fit to broadcast the Big Story: Coalition 'partners' New Democracy and Pasok had expelled party members who refused to toe the line. There was no comment on how the measures, which only serve to kick the can further down the road, will affect the tens of thousands of people who had come to protest outside Parliament, or the millions of others they represent. The people of Greece are suffering extreme hardship. Unemployment is at 54% amongst young people, and there are no state benefits. People are living off their parents' and grandparents' pensions, which are continually being cut. But for the Greek media, this isn't important - it isn't a story. It's as if the citizens of this country don't exist.

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