So we’d like to present you with an alternative way to help Greece right now. The Greek media is corrupt. This might not come as a big shock, maybe there are corrupt media in your country too, but the truth of the situation here goes far beyond what you’d imagine. According to the NGO Reporters Without Borders, Greece ranks 93rd in the global index of press freedom (placing it last in Europe). Private TV channels, newspapers and radio stations are majority owned by 5 key families, who use them to ensure their family of companies obtain government contracts. These private media outlets are members of large groups of companies who undertake construction projects, and shipowners who control the oil trade and imports.
During the last few days, the mainstream media have declared war on citizens, taking a position on the referendum and violating any notion of journalistic ethics. Their reporting is designed to terrorize and create a culture of fear, without any trace of truth or balance, whilst presenting themselves as objective and responsible.
On Monday, the largest TV station was broadcasting misinformation all day about cash withdrawals being reduced from 60 to 20 euros -reports which had been denied three times officially by the government- trying to provoke a bankrun. Nobody can control them. The competent inspection body is at present too weak to impose any sanctions. At the same time the Greek state’s efforts to pursue 102 million in unpaid taxes from these media companies for the use of public frequencies (common practice in other EU countries) has brought zero results. But new technologies have created new communication channels.
ThePressProject is one of them. We started in 2010 with the onset of the crisis, as a simple twitter account, and today provide 24/7 news through a website that reaches up to two million unique visits per day, in a country where broadband connections are, according to official figures, at 4.6 million.
The site operates in both Greek and English, and we also produce 6 hours of radio programmes every day that are broadcast free via 13 radio stations throughout Greece. Additionally, in the last six months we created a TV studio, from which we present extraordinary broadcasts of breaking developments.
It was ThePressProject that kept the state television channel, ERT, open when the previous government decided to close it abruptly one night, and were the first worldwide to publishthe approximately 262,000 leaked cables known as CableGate of Wikileaks in 2012.
ThePressProjectis not based on volunteers. It aims to create an organization based on real journalists. It supports the free flow of information, investigative journalism, good use of citizen journalism and the protection of intellectual property when using photographs, video or other material. In a recent survey by the LSE the ThePressProject emerged as the most independent media in Greece, and we’ve been written about by the New York Times, the Guardian, the NPR, and other international media. But ThePressProject has faced funding problems from day one. For obvious reasons it was decided not to accept money from the Greek state or financial institutions. In Greece they both use hundreds of millions of euros in advertisingcampaigns.
ThePressProject instead is based on donations of Greek citizens, and these days is on the verge of economic suffocation. The capital controls imposed and thenon-acceptance of Greek credit and debit card payments from Paypal, combined with the huge increase in costs due to the large increase in our traffic are a real issue.
We appeal to you, if youreally are interested in Greece, please strengthen our efforts to create independent media. Journalism must express the interests of the many rather than the oligarchs. Information is one of the main pillars of democracy. The informed citizen is powerful.
The operating cost of ThePressProject is 200.000 € per year (salaries, servers costs, inflexible costs, use rights) and we are completely unable to continue to operate under a financial crunch. We will post all public donations and the plan costs. The money collected will be used exclusively for the payment of our obligations or (in case we collect more) for the development of investigative journalism and documentary production.
Do something for democracy in Greece, for the Greeks, not for the debt, and finance hope and not fear.