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May 27, 2013
May 27, 2013

Greece: The news persecuted: violence against the photojournalists

Author: Irene Sovolou Translator: Anna Papoutsi
Source: TVXS  Category: Antifascism
This article is also available in: eles
Greece: The news persecuted: violence against the photojournalists

The people of the press are increasingly becoming victims themselves, in their attempt to record the events. Today one no longer needs to be a war correspondent to experience personal violence in the exercise of their profession. The Union of Photojournalists held a press conference on Monday on the occasion of the exhibition “The news persecuted” which will be presented in the European Parliament from the 3rd to the 7th June 2013. The exhibition was already presented in Greece in September 2012, in an attempt by photojournalists to make known to the public the dangers they face in the course of their work, but also to give an answer to those who attempt to silence them.


In the latest report by the Reporters Without Borders (RFS) on the Freedom of the Press 2012, Greece tumbled from the 30th position it held in 2007 to 84th, well below several monarchies and dictatorships. As social problems and class struggles intensify, photojournalists are increasingly in the front line in order to record the struggles and state abuses, observes Dimitris Trimis, president of ESHEA. “But power does not want these atrocities recorded, never has anyone been found guilty of police brutality and never has power wanted to punish the culprits”, he stressed. The president of EFE, Marios Lolos, pointed out that complaints, internal investigations and lawsuits for police brutality turn out useless; this climate of impunity leads to the escalation of police abuse. The goal of these attacks against photojournalists and journalists is to create a virtual reality of prosperity and development, says journalist Aris Hadjistefanou.


At a time when photographs are an integral part of our daily life and information, in Greece the journalistic photo, but also more generally professional photo, tend to become extinct. In the exhibition presented in the European Parliament by the Union Photojournalists in response to the invitation of MEP Marilena Koppa, on behalf of S&D, people of the Press become themselves the protagonists of the news.


In their attempt to capture the events, the Greek journalists –the central figures being photojournalists and cameramen since their equipment betrays their capacity– often become victims themselves.


Professional photographers often spend a third of their time during the coverage of an event –from the simplest event which has occurred in a public place, to demonstrations, press conferences etc– explaining, not only to ordinary citizens but also to those in charge, the obvious: that it is their duty as photojournalists to take photos.


In the latest report by the Reporters Without Borders (RFS) on Freedom of the Press in 2012, Greece tumbled from the 30th position it held in 2007 to 84th place, just behind Malawi, Bhutan and Nicaragua.


The report “The news persecuted” was already presented in Athens in September 2012, in collaboration with the Cultural Foundation of the ESHEA, with great success, as a large number of visitors, as they themselves pointed out, did not know how difficult and dangerous it is to exercise the profession of photojournalist in Greece.


The photos presented are neither within the contractual nature of the artistic status that we more or less know nor within the rules of an artistic photo exhibition; rather they are a testimony of photographers-creators, a documented account of what they experience or see during their work. As “observers”, photojournalists and cameramen always find themselves in the middle of… a conflict zone between police and protesters which stigmatises them as enemies on both sides.


In the report “The news persecuted” the creators do not aim, nor do they have the luxury of time, at working on the dynamic composition of the frame or the colours. Their only ally, apart from their camera, is the instinct that is in constant alert. Their ‘theme’, the violence against their colleagues or themselves when covering such events, lasts for a moment and in the vast majority of these cases there are no other “witnesses” with a camera. So both the rarity of the recording of such events and the collection of material make this exhibition all the more special.


Its presentation to the general public is a self-evident reply to those who tried in the past or will in the future attempt to silence in any way the people of the Press; as long as there are events there will also be those who transmit them, since the relationship between people and the news is intertwined with their own existence on Earth and is indeed an internal need.

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