FINGERPRINTS OF THE DAY Killing the Messenger

The crisis in the country’s media is well-known and documented, since it could not escape the vortex of the economic crisis and the defaulted European country called Greece, which even today, i.e. after 33 years of its official acceptance into the EU, is still learning the EU protocol of representation.

In Thessaloniki, the media crisis made was even more intense than in Athens, due to the small extent of the publishing and geographic space: although in the capital the ‘Eleftherotypia’ newspaper essentially closed down (despite the sporadic and touching “Wokers at Eleftherotypia” strike newspaper issues), although ALTER TV Channel was shut down, although Giorgos Kouris was temporarily arrested for owing vast amounts of money to the IRS and Thanasis Lalas declared bankruptcy, other, yes, serious, objective and ‘authoritative’ publications continued to exist in order to report on a daily basis little good information and plenty frivolous news to all of us, the silly Greek yey European citizens who still believe in reliable information provided by the mass media.

On the contrary, in the Greek second largest city, Thessaloniki, there existed essentially one and only newspaper, ‘Macedonia’. ‘Macedonia’ newspaper was founded in 10 July 1911 in order to live long, however a few years after Katerina Vellidi’s management (any association with the case of ‘Eleftherotypia’ newspaper and Mania Tegopoulou -another daughter of the newspaper’s founder- is arbitrary, unwise and totally coincidental) it began to progressing slowly towards its end.

At this point exactly Alexandros Bakatselos decided to establish the ‘Aggelioforos’ newspaper (initially a newspaper for ads) and expand soon its range of activities to the news reporting, thus rendering it a proper newspaper.

Perhaps the name was wrong from the beginning, since the minister that baptised it “threw alcohol in the font” and the infant took the folk name ‘Aggelioforos’, instead of the correct ‘Aggeliaforos’ but what does it matter or did it ever matter after all? Furthermore, I don’t remember exactly when it was founded, no one can find it easily on the internet and it doesn’t even exist in the Greek Wikipedia entry, however according to the newspaper’s first funeral oration on 2 December 2011 ,it must have been on September of 1996.

However, the actual newspaper was created after the arrival of Panos Theodorides.

Panos Theodorides, writer, ‘ex-poet’, excavations’ architect-conservator for the Ministry of Culture and the last artistic director of the Organisation for the Cultural Capital of Europe (Thessaloniki) in 1997 (a position which stigmatized him for various reasons, I still remember an engraver telling me how he was thrown out of his office several months after the end of the 1997 festivities, when he went to ask for the money the Public Organisation owed him: “And what did you come to beg for from the Public Sector? Are you here to become a Public Sector beggar? Get out of here immediately!”), it was him who gave life and prestige to the newspaper.

With his daily column “On The Ropes” and later “Opinions” -perhaps the best columns ever in a Greek newspaper the last 20 years,  Panos Theodorides has proved that a decent author, connoisseur of history and modern Greek anthropography can be transformed into the best Greek columnist, if it is necessary. “In a peculiar and often parable style” he had been teaching daily for many years not only history, geography, theology, philosophy, oratory, but the art of writing as well, without always consciously performing it, realizing or adequately appreciating this great work.

On December 2nd 2011, when ‘Aggelioforos’ began producing its death rattles in the passing of the publishing darkness, Panos Theodorides undertook silently extra columns, in order to help ‘Aggelioforos’ continue to look like a standard newspaper.

Naturally, his articles remained as parabolic and sharp as before, but the times had radically changed. The article “The Mrs and the Lady” about the young Olga Kefalogianni, who was fairly assigned  Minister of Tourism was very disturbing for many people, while the second article concerning the phenomenon of the Greek nepotism and the denial of Kyriakos Mitsotakis to become alternate minister (Mitsotakis’ son is being proposed for the position of an alternate minister? Come on!) was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Up next everything was simple: a doddering and financially weak newspaper administration can easily be led to its publishing suicide with two or three phonecalls of two minutes duration. To cut a long story short that is how the ‘Aggelioforos’ newspaper stopped having the veneer of a real newspaper.

Of course, nobody wrote anything about it. The Journalists Union of Macedonia and Thrace and its president Mr. Moschos Voitsidis didn’t even bother to comment on the case. A journalist friend of mine apologised and said “I had no idea. But still, what did you expect me to write?!  I’m only an insignificant  journalist. What did you think?”

I said nothing. I remained silent or, if you will, I bottled it up. I respected the frightening anxiety of survival under the state of fear and the economic crisis.   But I wanted to tell him the following: “I think if you had been reading his column more frequently all these years, perhaps you wouldn’t feel like a petty journalist, but you would feel that you must and can be an eminent journalist.”

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Intellectum 10