Greek Journalists Confront Ministry Over Conflicts of Interest Crisis

The International Federation of Journalists today called on the Greek government to avoid a “rush to legislate” over claims that Greek journalists are involved in ethical conflicts of interest.

A dispute has arisen between government officials and journalists’ leaders over complaints that some reporters in Greece are receiving payments from public sector sources and are, at the same time, working as “independent” journalists reporting on public affairs.

“This is a very serious question that journalists themselves should deal with,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary, in advance of a meeting in Athens tomorrow between representatives of the Ministry of State, leaders of political parties and Greek journalists’ unions.

“If there are ethical problems, they are best dealt with by effective self-regulation, not by rushing to put in effect laws that could turn out to be damaging for press freedom,” said White.

The IFJ affiliates in Greece, including the Journalists’ Union of Athens Daily Newspapers, the Journalists Union of Macedonia and Thrace, the Periodical Press Union and the Panhellenic Federation of Journalists, which unites all the country’s different unions, are against any hastily prepared laws that would try to control the way journalists work.

“Journalists must be aware of their ethical responsibilities and should avoid conflicts of interest,” said White. “The unions are ready to co-operate if the government will make available details of who is working in the public sector. So far they are in the dark about the scope of this problem.”

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries