Tag Archives: protest

Greek Journalists Strike against the War on Words

20 Oct

I believe in the power of words.  I believe words inform, enlighten.

I also believe in the power of silence.  Silence can sometimes be more powerful than words.

On Tuesday, October 17, about 2,000 Greek journalists went on strike.  The Greek journalists protested the layoffs resulting from Greece’s poor economy and the austerity bill stipulated by creditors.  Unemployment in Greece in general is up to 16%.  Unemployment in Greek media is up 25%.  The result of the strike was that internal Greek news coverage came to a halt.  (You can read more about the details here, where I obtained the statistics.)

The media professionals on strike in Greece sent a message about the critical role of news journalists in disseminating information.  Journalists are liaisons between the government and the general public, the protesters and the general public, the protesters and the government.  They go to the front lines of protests; they gain access to interviews with politicians; they give a voice to the villager whose pension has been cut to the point that he is having trouble making ends meet.  They are spokespeople.  They are advocates.

The 25% unemployment rate in the media sector of Greece is a war on words.  The pay cuts and layoffs indicate the devaluation of research and reporting.  We see similarities in the United States, as the media sector here has yet to find an effective way of monetizing content.  Try to find employment in journalism, and the majority of the ads you’ll read list “experience,” “exposure,” and “a byline” as your compensation.  If you’re lucky, you’ll find a job that pays 2 to 10 cents a word.  The result is that we read the work of bloggers who simply aggregate content, instead of conducting research and interviews, and spout opinions.  Those inclined toward professional journalism may see the low wages and long hours and redirect their editorial skills toward, say, writing advertising copy—because, you know, we live in a society that likes to consume and be entertained, not informed.

While I understand why the Greek journalists went on strike and shut down news, it is imperative that they find ways to report on the current events taking place in Greece.  The citizens in Greece need them.  Greece should not become like North Korea, where the government controls the distribution of “information.”