The UK daily The Guardian has apologised over a $3,500 “educational and informative tour” of crisis-ravaged Greece amid uproar and accusations of promoting “poverty porn”.
Announced on Wednesday, the holiday – billed by the paper as “Greece and The Euro” – offered to take participants on a tour to learn about the impact of the financial crisis and migration in the southeastern European country.
An advert at The Guardian, which was subsequently taken down, offered “the chance to meet local families and discover how their lives have been affected by the financial crisis”.
“Explore the financial crisis in microcosm through one Athens suburb and the charities and municipalities supporting people through austerity,” it stated, explaining that the trip was organised in cooperation with the Political Tours travel agency.
The Guardian’s trip would also take travellers to meet a local NGO, Greek politicians and aid agencies who work with refugees and migrants on the island of Samos.
The paper’s trip offered the opportunity to travel with Helena Smith, the Athens-based Guardian correspondent.
Speaking to the Press-Gazette, the paper apologised for the now cancelled tour. “We have now cancelled this project and apologise for the offence caused,” spokesperson Mel Tompkins said.
Tompkins said Smith “had agreed to give a talk but had no involvement in organising, leading or promoting the trip”.
When the tour was announced, social media users took to Twitter to lambast the paper for what many described as “poverty porn”.
Shame on you @guardian and @HelenaSmithGDN. You came up with the most disgusting, depreciating way to promote your so-called 'investigative' journalism. People have suffered immensely in #Greece and you try to benefit from that? You better place a paywall. pic.twitter.com/IueqyAdZp9
— Dimitris Rapidis (@rapidis) March 28, 2018
“The Guardian remains committed to our independent reporting of Greece and always will be,” Tompkins said in the apology, explaining that the initiative was “led by a commercial team and not by our journalists”.
Got tear gassed/pepper sprayed again. I wonder is the f**king @guardian want to include that experience in their bespoke poverty porn package tour of Greece?
— Teacher Dude (@teacherdude) March 28, 2018
Despite the apology, some social media users continued to criticise the daily.