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Paris Ayiomamitis (DEREE’ 92) is the Editor-in-chief of Athens Views, a weekly English-language paper launched in August in the Greek capital.
Ayiomamitis, a seasoned journalist, cut his teeth with the Athens News (13 years) after earning his BA in history at DEREE in 1992. Ayiomamitis, a Cypriot-Australian from Melbourne, has been writing for UEFA for a decade, and also has three years at the Associated Press under his belt. He worked as a consultant with the Spanish-based company Innovation in 2006-2007 when they relaunched the daily Eleftheros Tipos. He spoke to TouchBase about his years at DEREE, his new project as well as the local media market.
What is your fondest memory of DEREE? Did you have a favorite professor or class?
There were two professors I remember. One was an anthropology lecturer by the name of Doukas. I only took a few introductory courses with him but I remember him quite vividly. He knew his stuff very well, but what set him apart from the rest was the fact that he was an unassuming person with a sense of humor. And that always makes a lecture much more engaging.
Another professor was Mr. Precious. He taught philosophy and literature. He was a bit of a maverick and people like that help you think out of the box.
I will always remember DEREE because it was the stepping stone from the teen years into adulthood. That alone brings back fond memories of the college.
What made you start up Athens Views with your colleagues?
We basically started up the Athens Views to fill the gaping gap left in the English-language media in Greece by the Athens News when it shut down in early 2013. We’re a much smaller group now compared to the Athens News. The core is more or less comprised of the same people.
What has the response been so far? Is it being well received?
Yes, so far the response has been very encouraging. But we’re still at the beginning.
What does the paper bring to the foreign community here? What are your aims?
What we do is analyze the news for non-Greeks and give Greeks a chance to read news about their country from an English speaker’s perspective.
These days anyone can access the news at the blink of an eye – online, on TV, etc. People don’t need a weekly paper to get the news. What they do need is analysis. And that’s what our goal is.
Can you tell us about the ailing Greek media market? Do you see light at the end of the tunnel?
The way the Greek media market is set up, structurally, is not conducive to quality journalism. The media world is too intertwined with the political establishment when in fact it should be facing it.
The lack of meritocracy is another. Unfortunately, in many instances cronyism and family ties override merit. Quality is not the overriding criterion when people are hired as journalists. But I would be wrong to say there are no exceptions to this rule. Several journalists and newspapers do indeed rise above it all. It’s the framework that is dysfunctional. And given the power of the media in moulding public opinion, this can have a hugely negative impact on a society’s sophistication.
Unless the media and political worlds are extricated from one another, local journalism will continue to suffer in terms of quality in the foreseeable future.