On Sunday, for the first time since the catastrophic fires, the Fire Department was able to provide an exact number of missing people; however, the identification of unidentified corpses is still ongoing. This new information gives hope for a complete number of dead that will not surpass, at least not by much, the previously announced numbers.
(Link to article in Greek)
While preparing to bury two small children and their father on Sunday, one of the families of the victims that have already been identified issued a notice asking that the media respect the family’s mourning and not attend the funeral. Other families, following the identification of their relatives by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, are now preparing to bid farewell to their loved ones.
The magnitude of the catastrophe, claims of hiding the bigger picture of the situation, accusations against the authorities for misinformation on the size of the tragedy, and the need to inform the public about finding missing persons, have recently prompted the majority of the bloodthirsty, all-powerful mass media to cast a bright, unwavering light on the scene of the disaster and on those shocked and shattered by this human tragedy.
This, of course, is in no way an excuse for publications and television stations that did not hesitate to project charred bodies of people and animals and other abhorrent images. Neither are they justified for the confusion they have caused the public about the number of deaths and the number of missing persons by deliberately adding the two together, although the Fire Department was clear about the lengthy identification process and the overlap between the two lists.
The role of a media outlet is to investigate, research, inform, and most importantly, check its own power in every regard. We need to calmly discuss what happened and what should have happened. Only by doing this will we have a better understanding of what needs to be done in the future so that something like this never happens again. In order for this to happen, we have to overcome a large part of the public debate spent on small-scale political games and communication blunders. The prime ministerial meeting between Alexis Tsipras and other government officials was the most unfortunate of these moments. New Democracy’s anxiousness to charge the government responsible for the tragedy is equally misleading.
On the other hand, the hand of immediate coverage, television and photographic coverage of the despair and the farewell ceremonies for those lost in the fires have nothing to do with informing the public on the situation. On the contrary, similar cases have in the past been and are - as traditionally the case - a field of sacerdotal marketing of pain and suffering.
A family that lost three family members stated on Sunday that “it does not want any media presence during the final farewell to their loved ones.” We at ThePressProject defend the above plea as something greater than an upper limit on reporting, but rather a sacred right of those who are suffering.
We believe that our role is to present breaking news that requires criticism, discussion, and control. Our commitment is to focus on what can and what should happen. In some instances, people should turn their backs to political foolery. But when it is about informative reporting, the idea that a television channel broadcasted the discovery of a dead man is unthinkable.
Our own actions are judged here as well: What do we want to learn and what do we want to say? When does informative reporting acquire the characteristics of perverse personal gain and inappropriate political maneuvers over the plight of humanity? Through all of this, we need to distinguish between the questions that matter, but also respect the pain and suffering of those who have lost those closest to them.