Social media and the Greek uprising
Before the recent troubles the use of Twitter, blogs, video sharing services and the like was a pretty limited affair. Many of those on the Left, and much of Greek political life saw the internet as irrelevant as TV, newspapers, public meetings, leafleting and marches were the order of the day. Such a stance reflecting a general distrust of the medium, an extension of the Greek Left's ambivalent relationship with the media in general.
For many TV, radio and newspapers are inherently biased and corrupt and such claims have been fed by examples seen in the mainstream national media of the way protests and unrest have been downplayed or simply ignored. For example the recent hunger strike by prisoners in Greek jails involving nearly half the country's inmates received virtually no local coverage till the story came out in the international press.
The state - run TV networks follow the line set down by the party in power and whilst not Stalinist in their propaganda style (why lie when you can spin?) are no more objective than say, Fox news.
On the other hand many of the private television channels follow other agendas set down by their owners who see the TV and print as the PR wing of their business interests. A way of leveraging their position vis - a - vie the state, which is by far the biggest player in the Greek economy. Push the right buttons and you are rewarded with valuable advertising revenue and preferential treatment in competitions for government contracts.
However, as the protests continued more and more people discovered the power of the net to organise, inform and disseminate their message without having recourse to the mainstream channels. They discovered that they too, could get out their message to a wider audience far beyond their borders. In addition, media outlets from around the world quickly gained access to sources of information which told a very different story from the local media's version of events which depended on more traditional news gathering tools.
With this realisation came a burst of creativity in terms of tactics, slogans, self expression. The hundreds of school occupations quickly started setting up blogs, thousands of those taking part in demonstrations started posting pictures and videos on the net, citizen journalism sites started getting eyewitness accounts of the events as they were happening.
Many thought that this would eventually happen in Greece but that it would take two, three years. Instead it took three weeks.The genie is now out of the bottle and many of those working in the traditional media have been given a nasty wake up call. Although they've read about such movements in America and France, one has suddenly turned up, unbidden on their own door step.
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Ohio River Valley, Louisville, United States