Controlling the Message: Challenges for independent reporting in Greece

ECPMF

28 March 2022

No Comments

Leipzig, 28/03/2022 – Today, the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) publishes the report “Controlling the Message: Challenges for independent reporting in Greece”, which details the findings and recommendations of its online fact-finding mission to Greece. The mission, involving interviews with more than thirty local stakeholders, was implemented by the MFRR together with Reporters Without Borders in December 2021. The partner organisations conclude that challenges to the independence of the media and the safety of journalists are systemic in the country. While the problems are not unique, their intensity is highly problematic and sets it apart from most other EU Member States.

The result of this crisis is that news that is inconvenient or unflattering for the government, which includes reporting on serious human rights violations, does not get reported in many outlets. This creates a significant obstacle for the public’s access to information and, subsequently, their informed participation in the democratic process. 

 

Understanding the political polarisation and fragmentation of the media landscape requires taking the long view. The current situation has been shaped by more than a decade of severe financial and political crisis which has harmed the way journalism is understood. At the same time, there has been a deterioration of press freedom since Nea Dimokratia’s electoral victory in 2019, who are “obsessed with controlling the message” and minimising critical and dissenting voices, as we heard again and again during the fact-finding mission.

 

The murder of crime reporter Giorgos Karaivaz represents a low point for media freedom in Greece and drew international attention to the significant problems with journalists’ safety. The investigation progress appears slow and lacks basic transparency, which has had a chilling effect and leads to mistrust about the authorities’ ability or willingness to protect the journalistic community.

 

Migration policy, human rights violations committed in its implementation including pushbacks, and the humanitarian crisis that the refugee stream has created are highly sensitive topics for the government. Reporting on the issue is increasingly difficult, as journalists face obstructions including arbitrary arrest and detention, restriction of access to migration hotspots, surveillance, and harassment.

 

Reporting on protest is another particularly problematic area of journalistic practice in Greece. Journalists face aggression and harassment from law enforcement and from protesters. Overall, there is a lack of political will to ensure that journalists can safely report from demonstrations, which translates to a lack of adequate protection at the operational level.

 

Legal threats are also a significant problem for media freedom in Greece, including criminal prosecutions as well as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs). Such threats can lead to self-censorship.

 

In light of these findings, the MFRR has issued a series of recommendations to the Greek authorities and to the European community, including the institutions of the European Union and the other EU Member States.

This report was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR). MFRR tracks, monitors and reacts to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries. This project provides legal and practical support, public advocacy and information to protect journalists and media workers. The MFRR is organised by an alliance led by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) including ARTICLE 19, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Free Press Unlimited (FPU), the Institute for Applied Informatics at the University of Leipzig (InfAI), International Press Institute (IPI) and CCI/Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT). The project commenced in 2020 and is funded by the European Commission.

Read news by categories:

Related news

Statement

Albania: MFRR and Safe Journalist Network condemn attack on journalist Elvis Hila and his wife

The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) and the Safe Journalists Network condemn the shocking physical attack on Albanian journalist Elvis Hila and his wife.

READ MORE
Feature

MFRR Summit 2023: Press Freedom on the Line

The MFRR Summit is back, and this year we’re holding our conference under the title of “Press Freedom on the Line” from 29 – 31 March 2023.

READ MORE
ECPMF

Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media – Call for Nominations

Every year, the Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig awards its “Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media”, which is endowed with €20,000, to a distinguished journalist, publisher, or media institution.

READ MORE
Press release

Feindbild Journalist – Monitoring Lokaljournalismus

Together with the German Federal Association of Digital Publishers and Newspaper Publishers (BDZV), ECPMF has launched a new project to monitor attacks on local journalists titled “Feindbild Journalist – Monitoring Lokaljournalismus”.

READ MORE
Press release

IJ4EU fund opens new calls for cross-border investigative journalism

The Investigative Journalism for Europe (IJ4EU) fund today, January 12, opened two new calls for cross-border investigative journalism projects in the European Union and EU candidate countries.

READ MORE
Feature

“If I had stayed in Volnovakha, I would have ended up in jail” – Lidia Tarash, Voices of Ukraine

Lidia Tarash is a journalist from Volnovakha, a city in the Donetsk region. In August 2022, she became one of 120 fellows of the Voices of Ukraine programme, which provides emergency stipends to Ukrainian journalists.

READ MORE