DIALOGUES Parontes (Present): Is the news on lockdown?
18 February 2021

An open SNF DIALOGUES discussion delved into journalism in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, as part of iMEdD’s virtual Journalism Forum.

On Wednesday, February 17, at 18:30, SNF DIALOGUES held an open discussion between journalists and the public on the current state of journalism in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, as part of the “Reflect, Reform, Restart” Journalism Forum by iMEdD (incubator for Media Education and Development). The starting point for the DIALOGUES webcast was the avant-première of iMEdD’s inaugural documentary production Parontes (Present) by Yorgos Avgeropoulos, which took place online before the webcast. Avgeropoulos, the main speaker, was joined by a group of renowned journalists, photographers, and filmmakers who contributed to the production of the documentary, despite the current unprecedented conditions.

The film Present, which evolved from a multimedia project of the same name launched by iMEdD in April 2020, unfolds against the backdrop of the public health care system and follows prominent figures in the frontline of the COVID-19 response, as well as unsung heroes of the pandemic. “Those of us who are alive at this moment must be present with our entire being, in order to be able to see, observe, and react in memory of all those who have been lost. This loss should not be remembered with a mere reference to statistics,” said Avgeropoulos. “There is a one-sidedness in political discourse. I would feel better if I heard more critical voices from journalists,” he said, referring to issues that emerged in the Greek media as a result of the pandemic, adding that “as journalists, we have an obligation to counter this one-sidedness.”

iMEdD Managing Director, SNF DIALOGUES Executive Director, and journalist Anna-Kynthia Bousdoukou talked about how journalists gather information and data, as well as access to COVID-19 data, stressing that “Greece, in contrast to the rest of the world, is faced with the following paradox: No database on COVID-19 has been made available to journalists, universities, and the public. So, from almost the first day of the pandemic, the journalists at iMEdD Lab created an application that monitors the spread of the virus, making the data open to everyone. Indeed, the data have ended up being used by the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe for the purposes of updating its own application, in the absence of a corresponding database from the Hellenic National Public Health Organization (EODY).”

In regard to everything we have learned after a full year under the shadow of COVID-19 and looking towards the future, Avgeropoulos commented that “there is a long road ahead of us. What concerns me is how we will comprehend the lessons learned from the pandemic in order to build a better tomorrow. We must not return to pre-pandemic policies. We must move forward as a society.”

The DIALOGUES discussion also featured Elena Apostolidou (journalist), Fenia Chala (journalist), Sofia Exarchou (screenwriter, director, producer), Phoebe Fronista (journalist, producer, videographer), Marianna Kakaounaki (journalist), Yannis Kolesidis (photojournalist), Kostas Koukoumakas (journalist), Giorgos Moutafis (photojournalist, filmmaker), Yannis Ntrenoyannis (journalist) and Alexia Tsagkari (reporter, filmmaker).

The DIALOGUES discussion took place during the first day of the “Reflect, Reform, Restart” Journalism Forum, dedicated to reflecting on the experience of the pandemic. Participants looked back at how last year affected journalism and society, and at what the pandemic meant for the possibilities of documenting news and reporting it to the public, while emphasizing the need for all of us to be present in the historic moment.

Watch the DIALOGUES webcast, DIALOGUES “Parontes” (Present): Is the news on lockdown? at snfdialogues.org 

The DIALOGUES are curated and moderated by Anna-Kynthia Bousdoukou.

*The opinions expressed by DIALOGUES participants are solely their own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) or iMEdD. Speakers’ remarks are made freely, without prior guidance or intervention from the team.