Leading Greek media received an extremely low assessment in a survey on how they present the topics relating to immigrants in the country. The daily Kathimerini got the highest assessment - only 1.65 out of 5 possible points, while the weekly To Proto Thema with the highest sales got the lowest assessment.
The survey of Mediva involved the more conservative daily Eleftheros Tipos, the information channel of the public television channel NET, the private television channel with the highest rating Mega and the news portal in.gr.
The analysis of results shows that the Greek media do not provide a time and place for news from immigrants’ home countries. They do not broadcast any programmes in the languages of immigrants with the exception of the public radio "Filia" (Friendship).
All media except for the To Proto Thema newspaper have a journalist dealing with immigration issues. But the particular reporters have no special knowledge on the subject. "There were cases of journalists who knew the languages of immigrants. Others simply relied on their own experience, and the third group is sentimentally attached to the topic," said the surveyor Eda Gemi.
Surveyors have found that in many cases, journalists have come across the information they receive before writing their report. However, this happens rarely, when the source is the Ministry of Citizen Protection or another police source. "The specific media send reporters to the scene only when there is some major event or incident associated with immigrants, such as the boy from Afghanistan murdered two years ago by a bomb explosion."
In all media except Eleftheros Tipos, the newspaper editor alone decides what news will be published or announced. None of the six media had a code of ethics when presenting the news.
Asked whether they tolerate or have a special policy for appointing immigrants, media representatives responded that such a culture does not exist. "They can be seen among the technical and support staff but there are no immigrants in the main core of the news media." One of the media responded that no immigrant had sought work as a journalist. To Proto Thema, in turn, said that the paper is not aimed at this type of audience and identified as racist the method of determining a percentage of the team consisting of immigrants.
The general conclusion from the survey is that the Greek media present immigrants in a negative light. Exceptions are the cases in which they are presented as victims, but then again, the presentation is not objective and seeks to cause regret on the part of readers or viewers. Usually, immigrants are mentioned in the context of rising crime, the emergence of certain diseases and the presence of immigrant children in some schools, which "lowers the overall level of students." Being humane when it comes to cases of racist attacks abroad, such as the statements of Marin Le Pen and Nikolas Sarkozy during the election campaign in France or the bloody attack on Anders Breyvik in Norway, the media have a very different attitude when it comes to the immigrants in Greece.
The survey of Greek media was conducted within the European programme Mediva, organized by the Robert Schuman Centre and the European University Institute coordinated by Prof. Anna Triandafillidou. It aims at strengthening the ability of media to reflect the cultural diversity in European societies.
After presenting the results, a discussion followed with the participation of Greek journalists. They confirmed some of the conclusions and drew particular attention to the fact that immigrants have become a leading topic on which the government and right-wing parties rely in the pre-election rhetoric.
Yioanna Sotirhou from Eleftherotypia newspaper highlighted the complete lack of immigration policy. "The first attempt to census immigrants was in 1997 and this task was assigned to the police. According to the census, there were 750,000 legal immigrants, but the number of those registered was lower." According to her, since the early 1990s, when the immigrant flow to Greece started, nothing has changed, even the phraseology. "Today we are talking about "clean up" actions of the police against immigrants. This means that from 1996 to 2012 even the vocabulary has not changed. The word "clean" is usually associated with something useless, something like a waste in society and this is unacceptable. But nothing is changing," she said.
"The director dictates what is news," said Maria Delitanasi from Kathimerini newspaper. She commented on the survey results, presenting examples from her own experience. "Many times I have happened to suggest materials that were simply rejected. I, like many of my colleagues are no longer dealing with the immigrant issue, because it is most often assigned to journalists engaging in criminal news." In her opinion, if a reporter should deal with this topic, he or she should read the local and European legislation on the matter, be aware of its development in national and European authorities. "An article in the Dublin 2 Regulation provides that a state should withdraw if there are serious reasons. Although I knew it, I never wrote it, because I should not. What about the murder of Agios Pantelemonas? It is lucky that there are social media, because otherwise, nobody would learn what is happening."