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March 9, 2014
March 9, 2014

My Journey in Greece

Author: Bruna Cunha Translator: Bruna Cunha
Category: Letters from home
This article is also available in: pt-ptel
My Journey in Greece

When I went to Greece, I was able to get some of the daily struggles and realities in this country. In terms of history, I am now more comfortable with themes such as the dictatorship, the democracy in Greece and how different social groups work together or try to (mainstream media and police, for example).

I was very intrigued by the police when I first came to Athens. I wasn’t used to seeing so many of them, the vehicles they use are huge (in Portugal they can only fit 9 policemen each); they had different suits and had a lot of weapons.

This atmosphere didn’t make me comfortable at all. Some people said to me it was because of the crisis. As if crisis and police were synonyms and I was the one who could not understand it. Not long after, I started seeing demonstrations and how many police officers were deployed in the streets. I started to realise that in times of crisis, people’s voice gets louder and the police has to keep that voice down.

The Greece I saw was not the one we see advertised in tourism brochures. Here, the weaknesses of a country are shown in a raw kind of way. We see the differences between the people who have money and power and the people who don’t.

Journalism in Greece

The essence of journalistic professionalism aims at autonomy, since we all have the notion that journalists serve a public interest that transcends the interests of particular political parties and social groups.

In Greece, industrialists that work in shipping, travel or oil industries own media and work together with politics. This, of course, implies that journalistic autonomy will be limited – which makes us think that the journalist is a slave.

Journalism and Democracy

Since the restoration of parliamentary democracy in 1974, the press has been going through a process of modernization. The entry of entrepreneurs and businessmen in the media sector, as well as the stiff competition from television, has changed the field since the 1980s. As a result, the content of the press has become more objective and the traditional association with parties or individuals has been outdated. Despite this, the political stance of the newspapers is always present, especially in periods of election or tension.

Journalists do their work without the principles they were taught and there is always someone who can overpower their voices. But if politicians aren’t the voice of the people, how can journalists document that voice too?

Media don’t serve citizen interests, but rather what the government wants. In such a critical period, the function of mainstream media should change, but the net of connection with the government doesn’t help. Objectivity is sometimes forgotten to the benefit of the ones who finance media and truth is kept silent.

Crisis in Greece and Journalism

The Crisis in Greece brought severe economic, social and political consequences, such as the rise of unemployment and poverty. Of course, media suffer from the recession, since there is no money to finance them, which in turn leads to less advertisement expenses and journalists being fired. The ones who are still working do it in bad conditions.

As it is known, mainstream media were always been related to the government by providing support to its policies. The media got funding through the banks that are connected to the government. Now that the economic prosperity seems so far away, the relationship between traditional media and the government is stronger.

A good path for the Media

Although developments in the Greek media sector can, sometimes, result in insecurities, the media system has proved surprisingly adaptable and flexible when it needs to change or to be improved – in terms of history we know that very well.

The logic of media markets can make media organisations less dependent on political subsidies and discourage the connection with particular political positions. It may also make media enterprises too expensive for most politicians to afford. With that, media would have new ideals and ways of work. Change could be massive!

We live in a competitive work world and those who choose to be professionals in the media world really need to be creative and passionate. If one doesn’t stand out, one will hardly find a job in the area or build a career out of it.

But I do believe competition must exist, but not with each other – there can be healthy competition with ourselves and it starts with a positive attitude. Just because we live in times of crisis –whatever that means really– dreams shouldn’t be crushed, otherwise we will end up saying “I used to dream about that”.

Looking into the Future

We know that crisis, in economic terms, is a phase. Just as prosperity is. Analysing who did what and how come the situation got like this can be a waste of time, unless it is with the objective of not repeating the same mistakes.

Despite difficulties, social workers can build on the values of social justice and create a unifying platform for working towards the redistribution of power. We can join forces with organisations in order to defend our rights and restructure society according to human needs.

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My Journey in Greece by Bruna Cunha is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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