April 10, 2016 stefivos

News is like porn

News is like porn: people don’t want to pay for it on the internet. This is a phrase from John Oliver’s piece on Native Advertising, which, according to Wikipedia, is a type of advertising, usually online but feasibly elsewhere, that matches the form and function of the platform upon which it appears.

In simple words, we are talking about ads camouflaged as regular content. This trend is probably fine for websites like Buzzfeed, the king of native advertising, but when it comes to free news outlets, we are talking about the final blow to editorial independence.

The reason for this is self-evident. How can a medium report on a company that breaks the law, damages the environment or mistreats its employees when this very company is paying it loads of money for advertising, or even worse, when the medium itself is owned by this company?

The very owner of SKAI, one of the biggest media groups in Greece, interviewed by Reuters in 2012, said that the Greek media “are in effect press offices for business groups. It’s developed into a completely unhealthy situation. The purpose of media has been largely to execute specific tasks for their owners.”

In the same article we read that “A 2006 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Athens, obtained by Wikileaks, noted: “How can all these media outlets operate profitably? They don’t. They are subsidized by their owners who, while they would welcome any income from media sales, use the media primarily to exercise political and economic influence.”

It is now clearer than ever: as long as media depend on corporations to sustain themselves, we will never see a news outlet to publish the news as it is and not as their friends and clients would like it to be.

As George Orwell said “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.” We need ad-free news outlets that don’t like public relations. We need media that are supported by people and are accountable to them. We need media that hold as their highest value the right of everyone to have a voice.

It was with great pleasure to see that this time has come for Greece. AthensLive is aiming to cover this unoccupied space of passionate and investigative journalism. Staffed by millennials who want to make a difference by offering unbiased content, AthensLive is asking for one simple thing: resources.

They have launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to get their feet of the ground. Let’s help them fly. Let’s give AthensLive the independence they need. Let’s give ourselves the 21st century news outlet we deserve.

Support Athens Live

 

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