Manufacturing consent and legitimizing austerity: The Greek Media Before And After the Crisis


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Presentation at the European Sociological Association Conference, Torino, August, 2013

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Manufacturing consent and legitimizing austerity: The Greek Media Before And After the Crisis

  1. 1. Manufacturing consent and legitimizing austerity: The Greek media before and after the crisis Nikos Smyrnaios University of Toulouse ESA 11th Conference: Crisis, Critique and Change, Torino, August 2013
  2. 2. The Greek Drama 2009-2013 5th year of recession Unemployment from 10% to 30% -50% revenue for employees and pensioners debt-to-GDP ratio rise from 129 to 160% -32% in public spending -22% in minimum wage down to 586€/month -15% in births, +22% in suicides
  3. 3. Research Questions - No mainstream media warned Greek society about this catastrophe - No star reporter ever seriously investigated corruption, inequalities, nepotism, collusion etc. Why ? How did media work before the crisis ? What is the state of Greek media today ? What role do they play in the era of austerity ?
  4. 4. Method & Material Theoretical framework: Political economy of the media Method: observations in newsrooms, semi-structured in- depth interviews with journalists & media executives, documentary research & database queries (since 2005) Investigation fields: - Regulation & legal framework - Propriety & economic situation - Sociology & work conditions of journalists
  5. 5. Liberalization & Deregulation Up to 1989 public monopoly on TV & radio in Greece Politically motivated private media creation Temporary broadcasting licences granted in exchange of political support 1995 draconian law for pluralism never enforced Restrictions on ownership circumvented through off shore companies 1997-2004 the Golden age
  6. 6. Plethoric but precarious 2000s: Greece twice more media than Portugal (150 TVs, 800 radios, 15 sport dailies etc.) In 2004: 17 000 journalists while only 32 000 in France. Too many schools of journalism - Precarity, flexibility, no respect to labour law - Low wages for the majority, extremely high for the elite - No respect of deontology from hierarchy (collusion with political & economic interests, censorship etc.) Throughout the 2000s ¾ of the public said not trusting media, believed they served the interests of their owners
  7. 7. Concentration & collusion Mainstream media ownership: tycoons in shipping, oil, construction, banking, tourism etc. The same that benefit from public spending bubble (advertising through state owned companies, favouritism in bidding for government contracts) TV & print mainly unprofitable but maintained for: - Gaining political influence - Pumping money from stock market & banks - Defending privileges (e.g. tax breaks for shipping) Media concentration in the heart of the nexus of political & corporate power
  8. 8. Simplified diagram of the Greek media monopoly in 2013
  9. 9. Mainstream media content - Consumerism, life-style, « success stories » - « Horse race » journalism on politics - Large diversity in number of channels but low pluralism in voices & opinions - Consensus without discussion (2004 Olympics, Euro, Defence budget etc.) - No investigative journalism, “taboo” subjects (e.g. owner’s business interests) - Confusion between journalism & advertising (advertorials)
  10. 10. After the crisis (2009 to 2012)
  11. 11. The Memorandum Consensus - Massive unemployment & greater pressure on journalists to promote austerity policies - Greece fell from the 35 to 84 in the Press Freedom Index between 2009 & 2013 (violence, intimidation) - Death of mainstream media that offered an alternative view or/and positioned themselves critically against the Memorandum - Massive reduction of voices diversity: 63,4% of political parties TV airtime goes to government - EU, IMF & ECB representatives or journalistic accounts about them cover 57,2% of TV news (June-December 2013)
  12. 12. And now what ? But… Irruption of numerous alternative media, mainly on the web but also on print Junction between (unemployed) professional journalists & citizen reporter in participatory projects Crowdfunded documentaries & investigations Solidarity & collaboration (e.g. livestreaming of Ert signal) Mainstream media totally dogmatic: radical austerity, privatizations, public servants lay-offs etc. or/and anti-EU populism, xenophobia