The Listening Post

Greece: Syriza, austerity and the media

Will the new Greek government dismantle the old media networks? Plus, covering the new power structures in Yemen.

Greece has just elected a left-wing coalition party called Syriza led by the new Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras. Politicians are known to make campaign promises that would be hard to keep if voted into government, but even by those standards Tsipras’s rhetoric was audacious. He said: “We are going to destroy the oligarchy system” – a noteworthy statement given the $260bn Greece owes to its European creditors after two bailouts. 

Syriza’s compelling victory came despite the negative coverage that it received during the campaign. Many news organisations in Greece are subsidiaries of companies owned by the oligarchs Tsipras has pledged to “destroy”. Now that Syriza has been elected some of those outlets have begun to alter their coverage but whether the new government will be able to dismantle the old power structures, is the pending question in the world’s oldest democracy.

Taking us through the story this week are: Anastasia Giameli, a journalist from Avgi newspaper; Skai TV presenter Constantinos Bogdanos; Augustine Zanakos, a journalist at Unfollow; and Research Fellow George Tzogopoulos.

Other media stories on our radar this week: The fall of the ruble exchange rate has thwarted the Kremlin’s plans to expand its media apparatus; an Argentinian journalist has fled his native country after breaking a controversial news story; and we look at some of the misleading news coverage following the death of Saudi king Abdullah.

Yemen’s new power structures

Yemen has been locked in a power struggle ever since the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The incumbent president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi has just tendered his resignation leaving the Shia Houthis in control of the capital, Sana’a.

Throughout this period journalists have enjoyed more media freedom than before but have been uncertain as to how far they can take their coverage.

Then there is the US’s drone war against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Washington calls the group one of the most dangerous offshoots of al-Qaeda. However, that is a difficult characterisation to verify as journalist very rarely gain access to the group. This dearth in reporting has created a news and information vacuum that AQAP and its affiliates are only too happy to fill.

The Listening Post’s Nicholas Muirhead looks at the challenges reporters face while trying to cover Yemen’s complex political landscape.

Sunday, February 1, marks the 400th day our journalists, Baher Mohammed, Peter Greste and Mohammed Fahmy have been incarcerated in Egypt. Journalism is not a crime. #FreeAJStaff