December 2008 and the New Greek Media

by Maria Komninos and Vassilis Vamvakas

  1. The spontaneous gesture of the revolted young people to create their new independent sites, blogs and radio stations (katalipsiasoee.blogspot.com, katalipsipolytexneiou. blogspot.com, syntonistikogrigoropoulos.blogspot.com, mathites.gr, radio98fm.org, eleftherosgalaxias.blogspot.com, katalipsisxolistheatrou.blogspot.com). Pupils, students and all kind of activists participating in the occupation of schools, universities and public buildings regarded the new media of internet and particularly its audiovisual applications ideal for their need to spread their messages and to publicise their acts and positions without the mediation of traditional media. New sites run by young people belonging to left parties (e.g. SYRIZA) and the ones which reproduced the Indymedia style of information tried to communicate slogans, announce protests, occupations and organize cultural events and discussions. At the same time the most influential blogs with journalistic and even scandal mongering profile reproduced and disseminated this information instantly (e.g. prezatv.blogspot.com, troktiko.blogspot.com, pressmme.blogspot.com, press-gr.blogspot.com, kourdistoportocali.blogspot.com).
  2. The impressive transformation of social network sites to forums of political opinion and activism. Facebook became a prominent tool of protests by dozens of devoted groups expressing their sorrow for the young victim of police and thousands of its members participating by comments and documentation about the events (only one of these groups – ALEXANDROS GRIGOROPOULOS (R.I.P.) has 136.000 members). The extreme radicalisation of facebook was manifested the first days of the riots when many groups were formed (only one of them has more than 13000 members) in order to express support and solidarity with the burning of the Christmas tree which became a locus of symbolic resistance until the New Year (artistic groups and anarchists kept on destroying the celebratory image of the tree by decorating it with garbage and rotten meat).
  3. 3. Internet as well as the streets of Athens and other big towns became the spaces where an unprecedented mixture of violent, imaginative and affective events, happenings, and manifestations took place. The mistrust of police authorities and the defiance of the consequences of violent acts was the common place of what was expressed in the real and the iconic field of protest. The fans of facebook, the followers of indymedia and the new journalism of blogs interacted and converged in an unprecedented way during the revolt of December. This insurgency was fuelled by the anger and disillusionment of many groups, youths, pupils, students, anarchists most of them belonging to the middle class but who felt that the new globalised economy had relegated them to a precarious future ( the generation of 700 euros) which resembled that of the immigrants and the unemployed who joined the protests.

The revolt of the children -who grown up in the society of the economic prosperity and growth of the post-dictatorship period and were part of the consumer society – expressed through the new media and the traditional modes of protest and contestation a massive negation and rejection against all established institutions. This explains why these “children of the revolution” were greeted either with hope or fear all over the world.

v  Costas Douzinas (2009) “What we can learn from the Greek riots”, The Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jan/09/greece-riots

v  Ed Vuliamy and Helena Smith (2009) “Children of the revolution”, The Observer, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/feb/22/civil-unrest-athens/print

  • Panayis Panayiotopoulos (2009), “Suffering and revolt of the “included”. Some keys to understand the revolt of December 2008”, European forum for urban safety, http://www.fesu.org/index.php?id=30102&L=0.

v  Χριστόφορος Βερναρδάκης (2008), “Τα μπλογκ στην Ελλάδα του 2008. Πολιτική Κουλτούρα και νέος δημόσιος χώρος”, Monthly Review, v.47, http://www.monthlyreview.gr/antilogos/greek/periodiko/arxeio/article_fullstory_html?obj_path=docrep/docs/arthra/MR47_erevna_FS/gr/html/index.

v  Maria Komninos (2001) From the forum to the spectacle: the transformation of the Public sphere in Greece, 1950-2000.in Greek, Athens, Papazissis.

Maria Komninos is Associate Professor, Department of Communication and Mass Media, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Her main publications include Society, Power and Mass Media (co-edit. with Christos Lyrintzis, 1988), Community, Society and Ideology (co-editor E. Papataxiarhis, 1990) and From the Agora to the Spectacle: the Transformation of the Public Sphere in Greece 1950-2000 (2001). komninos__maria@hotmail.com

Vassilis Vamvakas is Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Communication and Mass Media, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. He is author of Elections and communication in the post-dictatorship period. Politics and spectacle (2006). vamvakasv@yahoo.gr

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