#108 The fall of press freedom in Greece

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  • 1. What #108 is all about

    From 2022, Greece ranks the worst of all EU countries in the RSF ranking for press freedom. Why has it fallen from 70th to 108th out of 180 countries? What is happening to the media in the so-called birthplace of democracy? The first episode of the podcast series offers an informative retrospective for both international and Greek audiences, setting the context for a better understanding of the following episodes. Therefore, it is a short walk through all the issues that were the criteria for downgrading Greece's position: surveillance, the murder of a journalist, SLAPPS, self-censorship and censorship, and economic manipulation. Show notes:For this episode, our guests are Antonis Kalogeropoulos, a communication and Media Lecturer at the University of Liverpool and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Reuters Institute; Pavol Szalai, Head of the European Union & Balkans Desk at Reporters Without Borders; and Lamprini Papadopoulou, an assistant Professor at the Department of Communication and Media of the Kapodistrian University of Athens.

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  • 2. Spying on journalists: Greece's phone hacking scandal

    Greece is back on the front page of the international media after a significant phone-tapping scandal. The wiretaps were carried out against the journalist investigating financial scandals, Thanasis Koukakis, and the political leader of the third largest political party, Nikos Androulakis. A short time earlier, another journalist who specialized in the refugee issue, Stavros Malichoudis, had discovered that he was being monitored by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) as an enemy of the state. The Predator malware was used for the surveillance. As a consequence of the revelations, the general secretary and nephew of the prime minister, Grigoris Dimitriadis, and the commander of the NIS, Panagiotis Kontoleon, resigned. For episode 2, we talked to the journalists who were victims of phone tapping and to the journalists who carried out the months-long investigations and brought the wiretapping scandal to light. Show notes:For this episode, our guests are the Greek journalists and victims of surveillance Stavros Malichoudis and Thanasis Koukakis, and the investigative journalists Tasos Telloglou and Elisa Triantafyllou.
  • 3. Behind the death of a journalist: the Karaiwaz case

    Of all the things that prevent a journalist from doing his job, there is only one invincible obstacle. Murder. In Greece, a journalist who covered crime news, George Karaiwaz, was killed. A delayed government response followed the murder, and even today, the process of solving the murder seems slow to non-existing. For the third episode, we talked among others to the widow of the murdered journalist, experienced crime reporters, and Pavol Szalai from RSF to understand the context in which the Karaiwaz was killed. Show notes: For this episode, our guests are Statha Alexandropoulou-Karaivaz, widow of the murdered journalist; Panos Sobolos, one of the most experienced crime reporters in Greece; Babis Polychroniadis, a journalist who is following the Greek Mafia trial in court; MEP Costas Arvanitis; Pavol Szalai, Head of European Union & Balkans Desk at Reporters Without Border; and Maria Antoniadou, president of the Journalists' Union of Athens (ESIEA).
  • 4. Inside the newsroom: stories of self-censorship

    News manipulation and censorship have been done in many indirect ways, mainly economically. But sometimes, it is crude and overt in Greece: journalists cannot publish what they want, or they might lose their jobs. Even if they wanted to take the risk, the content never reaches the recipient because it is cut off by the editorial staff. In episode 4, the interviews we hear from fellow journalists who have spoken publicly about stories of censorship in their everyday job and others who have agreed to speak anonymously about the pressures they face in the newsroom. Show notes: For this episode, our guests are Mahi Nicolora, a journalist working at the public broadcaster ERT, and three journalists who are dubbed by actors to preserve their anonymity.
  • 5. Follow the money: The Petsas’ List

    In the context of COVID-19 and its very special circumstances, the Greek government decided to give a huge amount of money, around 20 million euros, to friendly media to promote the messages of Civil Protection to deal with the pandemic. The media outlets that received the money were gathered in the so-called Petsas’ list, named after the respective minister’s last name. The press critical of the government received less than 1% of the total amount. To this day, there has been no official response answering the question of what criteria were used to award the money. Show notes:For this episode, our guests are Stefanos Loukopoulos, ​​co-founder of Parliament Watch; Dimitris Kanellopoulos, a journalist and former director of the newspaper EfSyn; and Dimitris Galamatis, Secretary General for Communication and Information.
  • 6. SLAPPed: journalists against strategic lawsuits

    Very recently, Greece learned the meaning of the term SLAPP, short for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. It was not because Greeks read it in a book but because several journalists have been targeted by companies with lawsuits because of their investigative reporting and are thus called upon to face powerful giants in courtrooms. As explained during the last episode, this practice happens not with the aim of financial compensation for defamation but all for legal bullying and the gagging of the journalist. There are three major SLAPP cases in Greece at the moment. The victims are featured in the latest episode of the podcast. Show notes:For this episode, our guests are the three journalists victims of SLAPP, Thodoris Chondrogiannos, Stavroula Poulimeni and Yannis Stevis; Babis Kouroundis, a lawyer and adjunct professor in Constitutional Law; Christina Ad. Vrettou, a Doctor of Constitutional Law; Peter Chantilas, a lawyer representing the Greek hospital administrator; and Kostas Papadakis, Stevis’ lawyer.