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Brave journalism is in hiding

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“Depending on the quality of journalists that a State has, so is the quality of democracy of the State,” said John Kennedy.

Unfortunately, in Cyprus, we are not fortunate to have quality journalists in sufficient numbers, specialising in various subjects, and this is understandable when we learn what salaries journalists are paid (those lucky enough to be paid).

Apart from CyBC with its admittedly fat salaries, the rest earn meagre wages, resulting in the Republic suffering in its proper functioning, while independent journalists (in the sense that the owners of the media do not guide them) are even fewer.

Due to rapid developments, the study of “news” has an increasing interest and watching the media, we take our hats off to a handful of specific journalists who have the knowledge and courage to discuss with their guests and others in public. Three are women, and three are men.

Bravo to them for their courage and freedom of opinion, while I do not miss a morning radio programme where the journalist pulls us like a magnet to watch or hear her, sometimes making us late for work since the program ends at 9.00 am. Extremely well-read and documented and quite aggressive.

But the others?

You will remember that we sent a journalist in the past to discuss with former Laiki Bank strongman Andreas Vgenopoulos issues of the economy, but that person had little knowledge of economics.

Similarly, we watched another interview with three local journalists with the same guest who came to a disaster and ridicule due to lack of financial or banking information knowledge.

I refer to these examples as actions to avoid.

Former Central Bank governor Athanasios Orphanides also presented a history of how our economy ended with the bail-in in 2013.

A shocking report which, apart from being on the internet, was not published in any media.

It is shocking because he explained how the then-government reacted to the warnings of the European Union by doing nothing.

In our sector, that of real estate, we have submitted many reports, unfortunately without encouragement from the media.

In a recent complaint regarding five containers on the beach of Protaras that were converted into residences (even without a road, water, sewerage and certainly without a permit) and although we sent photos and other data to the media, no one published them.

The only one who reacted positively was the District Officer of Famagusta in a telephone call, while the previous mayor and the municipality’s services did not react, and the containers are there and even rented to tourists.

So why shouldn’t others follow through with this illegality?

The quality of our politicians and MPs is known to the public of Cyprus, and they refer to the frustration of voters. Still, no one apologised to the citizens for their poor handling of the economy’s collapse in 2013, despite calls from the President and the then Minister of Finance in parliament.

These same political leaders and others appear on TV channels, write boring articles and try to convince us of their wisdom.

And yet we need 5-6 journalists to constantly ask them if they feel the need to apologise to the public for rejecting the European Union’s initial plan for an across-the-board haircut of deposits.

Because of their heroic ‘No’, we went to phase two within a week, Bank of Cyprus deposits were harshly deducted by up to 90% instead of 9% for all a week earlier, and Laiki collapsed.

If we have the quality of journalists in increased numbers (I repeat, with the level of payroll), then we would have a much better future.

Perhaps the state that subsidises political parties and others should also subsidise a percentage of journalists with proven knowledge and activities.

To encourage at least young journalists to study issues (a kind of Pulitzer with a recognition prize of €5,000) for ten journalists per year after their work is reviewed by a group of academics (e.g., University of Cyprus)  to address various political and other issues.

 

Antonis Loizou FRICS – Antonis Loizou & Associates EPE – Real Estate Appraisers & Development Project Managers