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25 July, 2024
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Journalism is (also) a job like any other

''Today's media landscape is characterized by understaffing, resulting in superficial coverage, a lack of expertise, and minimal investigative journalism.''

George Kakouris

George Kakouris

Since 2009, when I began working full-time in this field, I've observed the media landscape in Cyprus undergo multiple crises. From the advertising downturn following the 2008 global financial crisis—which we were told wouldn't directly impact Cyprus—to dwindling sales due to the rise of the internet and social media, and further exacerbated by the banking sector's subsequent turmoil and business closures.

Cost-cutting measures like reducing page counts, implementing temporary pay cuts that morphed into permanent ones, and staff layoffs became commonplace. Often, these were accompanied by poor management decisions rooted in the misguided belief that journalistic integrity and business interests stand apart. Some viewed journalism merely as a sideline tolerated by benevolent business owners or as a tool for political agendas, rather than recognizing its inherent value in providing unfiltered information.

While economic prosperity and construction booms have returned, journalism hasn't experienced a parallel resurgence. The prevailing focus of the political and business elite remains on short-term gains rather than the essential role of media as a watchdog for democracy and market accountability.

Today's media landscape is characterized by understaffing, resulting in superficial coverage, a lack of expertise, and minimal investigative journalism. Outlets that maintain high journalistic standards are viewed as exceptions rather than the norm.

The ongoing crisis within the media sector reveals systemic weaknesses that persist election after election and crisis after crisis. Media oversaturation at the market's top end, coupled with the underpayment of young journalists at the bottom, reflects a broken system that benefits political and business interests rather than society at large.

The situation in the Turkish Cypriot community serves as a useful filter through which we can see the situation in our market more clearly. Unregulated media, corruption, and vested interests have created an environment reminiscent of the Wild West, where media ownership is concentrated among a select few, further diminishing the already limited resources available.

Addressing these issues necessitates regulatory changes, starting with transparent ownership structures to prevent undue influence from individuals with political or business affiliations. Such reforms are crucial not just for the media industry but for the democratic health of society as a whole.

[This op-ed was translated from its Greek original and edited fro conciseness]

Cyprus  |  journalism  |  World  |  democracy

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