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Weak global media interest in Sunday's elections

18 September 2015 / 18:09:11  GRReporter
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No foreign correspondents with notebooks and recorders in hand are now running in the election streets in Athens, reads the Greek daily Kathimerini. Nor is it expected that operators will flock to the press centre at Zappeion after the elections on Sunday to compete for the best photo of the new Greek prime minister. So what if there will be elections on 20 September, which the Greeks presumably are already calling "critical"?

"I made great efforts to persuade the chief editor to send me to Greece," a correspondent for a global news agency told Kathimerini. "These elections are causing no interest. The agreement is signed and any party that wins the elections will be forced to implement it. Do you want by any chance to go to Greece for a short vacation?" were the words of the editor.

"SYRIZA has split and Tsipras no longer looks like an evil demon. What more can I say?" said Federica Bianchi, a reporter for the Italian newspaper Espresso. "I have just finished the material for Greece from my office in Rome," she said.

It seems that the global media, even those among them that have large budgets, now prefer to send their reporters to the islands of Lesbos and Kos than to Athens. Some of them are trying to combine the two topics, by arriving in Athens only on the election day. "The top news is the refugee problem. They consider the Greek elections quite insignificant. It seems that the interest in Greece is now exhausted," said researcher George Tzogopoulos from the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy. "In the days before the referendum I had received 40 requests for interviews from foreign journalists and now there are only six," he said.

Fatigue seems to be multilayered. Readers are no longer excited by the first pages dedicated to Greece nor by the detailed analysis of its economic and political state. Physical fatigue is also a factor. Many journalists interrupted their holidays because of the referendum on 5 July, and then they closely followed the last stage of negotiations in Brussels, with the result that their holiday shortened to a few days in September. "I would like to be in Syntagma now but I am on vacation in Thailand," a journalist from Germany is sincere.

Of course, the decline in interest may be temporary. "The probability of a major political change in Greece or Grexit has receded," says Maria Margaroni, correspondent for The Nation and collaborator of The Guardian and the BBC from London. "Now all eyes are turned to the potential carriers of change, the reallocations in the Labour party and the elections in Portugal and Spain."

According to her, "Greece will end up back at the centre of media interest in the event of possible negative assessments in the performance of duties under the rescue programme after about five months." Margaroni is not in Athens these days. "The magazine did not want me to go and I am exhausted. Anyway, I think people have nothing to say to us now."

Tags: MediaPoliticsGreek sourcesForeign correspondentsMedia interest
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