Freedom of Information under Pressure

We are very happy that two members of the UNFOLLOW magazine team, and also contributors here at Borderline Reports, Mariniki Alevizopoulou and Augustine Zenakos, will be participating in the International Conference “Freedom of Information under Pressure” at the University of Vienna.

header-bg copyThe conference takes place February 28th and March 1st and will gather more than 30 international speakers (academics, media practitioners, librarians, experts of open culture and public space, activists and policy makers) from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom, and will call for an open discussion on the challenges of freedom of information in the light of the recent surveillance revelations and the increase in censorship and prosecutions of media, journalists and whistle-blowers in Europe and beyond. For those not able to attend, the event will be streamed live through The Press Project, with a choice of three languages – English, which is the official language of the conference, or simultaneous translation in German or Greek.

Please visit the conference website for more information, the programme and the complete list of speakers.

Also, there will be a pre-conference event, a screening of “Ruins – Chronicle of an HIV witch-hunt”, on Thursday, February 27th, at 19:00. The documentary describes the shocking case of HIV criminalization in Greece and the prosecution and public humiliation of HIV positive women – a case study of severe violations of privacy and human rights. After the screening, a discussion will follow with Professor George Katrougalos (Democritus University of Thrace, Greece), Mariniki Alevizopoulou and Augustine Zenakos (UNFOLLOW magazine), and the Researcher Kathrin Niedermoser (University of Vienna).



At first glance, the threats on the life of an independent reporter and the recent bombings on five journalists’ houses seem to go well together, two cases of attack on press freedom, just as they were presented by Al Jazeera Listening Post. The thing is, on closer examination, they are really very different. And unless more Greek journalists take it upon themselves to report in a way that is useful to an international audience, it will be very difficult to shine a clear light on the atrocities happening in Greece.

A part of this report by Al Jazzera Listening Post highlights a problem that has surfaced as international Media try to shed light on different aspects of Greece’s plight: professional and technical capabilities, even when best intentions are a given, are no substitute for that indispensable raw journalistic material – a solid understanding of realities on the ground.

Most of the Listening Post segment above reports on the threats on the life of an UNFOLLOW magazine reporter, following a story he did on oil smuggling in Greece. Then, towards the end, a side-story is added: five journalists’ homes were recently bombed. And the report is rounded off with a statement by the Athens Union of Daily Newspapers, calling on the State to act before it is too late.

Μainstream Media in Greece is entrenched in a nefarious web of relationships between business oligarchs and powerful political families

At first glance, the threats and the bombings seem to go together, in the sense that they are both instances of violence against the press, and they should be presented under the same light, as attacks on press freedom. The thing is, on closer examination, they should not. And since Al Jazzera is mercifully not a player in the Greek Media’s ideological game, one can’t but conclude that the reason they are bunched together is quite simply an inadequate understanding of what is going on.

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