INTERVIEWS
Tasos Economou-Journalist and Acting Director at ERT NEWS

Interview by Vassilios Nicolaos Vitsilogiannis
(IG: @vassiliosvitsilogiannis)

1.      By kicking off this interview, I want you to define journalism based on youroutlook.

Journalism has changed a lot in recent years and let me tell you that it has been put in the right place, which is the digital environment.  After its stony and paper years and that of the omnipotence of the model, journalism is the
transmitter that reaches many receivers and was broadcast via television and radio channels; information now is in the field of interaction and pluralism. However, I have to say that the traditional journalistic values, that is, those of research and disclosure, remain relevant and important as well.

2.      Was your childhood dream to become a journalist?

The truth is that this was my second childhood dream because the first was to become an actor, an effort that ended up in vain. I have nothing to complain about, however, it is a road trip with its own distinct value.

3.      How do you ensure your work is accurate and factual?

Timely information determines the success of mass media today. It is in direct competition with the comprehensive cross-checking of information. But it is the journalist’s highest duty to make sure that the information he harnesses is cross-checked.  We must also recognise that the press, from its inception until today, has been locked in an embrace with political, economic or other interests.  The most striking example is what we are witnessing happening in the field of storytelling and information about the war in Ukraine. Alongside the hostilities, a communication war is unfolding between the two sides of the conflict, which has even spilled over into Europe and the rest of the world. So, it is in this context that you also understand how important the credibility of journalism is.

4.      How would you manage the stress of tight deadlines?

The only way to manage the pressure and stress for meeting the deadlines is to serve them with respect in the best possible way, that is, to deliver the right product in the right time frame. There is no trick, nor any way to avoid it. The only thing one can do, especially if they are in charge, is to make sure that they do some preparatory work to reduce any delay to broadcast the news promptly.

5.      What qualities make good journalists?

There are some basic virtues a good journalist should have such as diligence, patience and perseverance, willingness, righteous journalistic imprudence, familiarity with new technologies, ability to write attractive narratives, as well as the wittiness to face difficult situations in which you will find yourself. Also, the ability to read the facts and understand their course of action.

6.      Is objectivity the prevalent factor in today’s journalism?  In which media do we mostly find it?

I think objectivity is an ideology, which begins and recedes as an element of journalism.  What replaces it is the methodology of projecting different approaches and opinions, as well as transparency in the journalistic process.

7.      Do you find social media a source of information or you go through traditional channels in the search for the news?

Given the fact that social media are a source of information as well as a news platform, we must always cross-check and verify the information – and I think that there is still a lot of room for their use in informing the public.  I wouldn’t say social media oppose traditional news-searching methods; on the contrary, I would say that they are complementary.

8.      You’re the Acting Director of ERT NEWS website operating under the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation. A website which was upgraded and redesigned to meet the demanding views of the readers for impartial news update. How difficult was it to be achieved? What kind of news do you cover?

It was and still remains a difficult task for the editorial team of ertnews.gr to cope with the highly demanding Greek citizens on how we carry the news.  We try to cover promptly important events and major news, while at the same time we can follow, without fabrication and exaggeration, the social agenda set by the citizens on any social media platform with principles like multiculturalism, equality, the fight against rancor speech and the emergence of social problems.  Also, one of the very basic axes that we want to serve is the quality in its content, something that will pay off in the long run.

9.  What do you think about real reporters and story re-tellers?

The ability to compose engaging narrative content is serving the principles of journalism and is a very special art of writing for a few. Some more issues are the reposting, the use of sources of the news, and the copy-paste lines presented extensively in the digital environment but also the ethical framework of information was adopted in the modern era.

10.  Why there isn’t original content in our days?

I would partially agree with the issue raised by your question. There is original content but there is also extensive plagiarism. Therefore, it is the duty of all those who serve journalism to find ways to combat this phenomenon, so as to enable the production of original content to flourish.

11.  Is it ethical to reveal the questions to the interviewee before the interview?

Undoubtedly it is unethical in our country as well as elsewhere to reveal the questions before the interview. Information and reporting the news are developed in parallel and often on a collision course. The issue raised by your question lies in the field of confrontation between the two parties. I think the most legitimate practice is to communicate the context in which an interview will be conducted. It must be said, however, that the surprise factor to the interviewee with a question of high interest to the public is part of the journalist’s arsenal.

12.  Set up your guidances grid for the new generation of journalists

Ethos, ambition, philanthropy and openness. Journalism has reached its climax, but it also requires a perception of reality with the difficulties that this entails.

13.  Your wish to make this world a better place.

Let’s hope the war in Ukraine ends soon.

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