Trust in news in Greece saw a large decline this year, partly due to perceptions of undue political and business influence on journalism. The media market in Greece is further characterised by digital fragmentation and high use of social media for news.
The past year has been characterised by heated discussions about press freedom and media pluralism in Greece among politicians and the public.1 These are reflected in the large decline in the share of respondents who trust news (a decrease of 8 percentage points). Greece now has the lowest proportion (19%) of respondents trusting news in the 46-market sample.
The discussion surrounding press freedom intensified in May 2022, after the annual press freedom index by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) placed Greece in 108th position (down 38 positions from 2021), below many non-democratic countries. The opposition responded by accusing the government of restricting media freedom, citing the state-run news agency’s failure to mention Greece’s position in their article covering the RSF report. Meanwhile, the government criticised the report, with the Prime Minister publicly calling it ‘crap’, causing a fierce reaction from RSF.2 When the Prime Minister was asked by Members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg to comment, he physically pointed to the front pages of anti-government newspapers as evidence that there was no shortage of media pluralism in Greece. The 2023 RSF report puts Greece in a similar position to last year (107th position).
The decision of a special court to convict the minister of digital policy, telecommunications, and media of the previous government for illegal interference in the TV licensing auction in 2016 – along with a businessman who participated in the process – exacerbated existing perceptions of undue political and business influence in Greek media. In addition, the period following the deadly Tempi train crash in March 2023 (after our survey was completed) was also characterised by public outrage and rallies against the parties that had governed throughout the past decades. Vocal criticism was directed at some commercial broadcasters and famous TV journalists who were perceived to be biased in favour of the government when attributing responsibility for the train crash and for not previously sounding the alarm about railway safety.
The digital media market in Greece remains extremely fragmented, with our Greek survey respondents using a very large number of news sources per week, compared with other countries. The fragmentation of attention online is partly due to the large number of digital news media outlets operating, but also due to the high number of Greeks online using social media like Facebook for news, meaning news consumption is more casual and incidental. Other than Facebook, young Greeks are increasingly using Instagram and TikTok to get news updates from news organisations, or political influencers/activists. However, the fragmentation of the Greek news media ecosystem extends way beyond digital media. For instance, TV audiences are split between nine commercial and public national broadcasters, with the vast majority of news bulletins and programmes struggling to stand out in the Nielsen ratings. Similarly with print, despite the tiny market for print news, there are still at least 20 national daily newspapers and seven national sports newspapers in circulation; the majority of them have very small audiences and are loss-making.
The scoop of the year was the revelation that a large number of Greek prominent figures, including high-level politicians, investigative journalists, army leaders, and businesspeople, had their mobile phones monitored either by illegal surveillance software and/or by the National Intelligence Service. The reporting that led to these revelations started from April 2022, led by journalists Eliza Triantafillou and Tassos Telloglou from the digital-born, subscription-based Inside Story.3 Despite their multiple stories on the topic it took months before mainstream news media outlets in Greece followed up with their own reporting in July 2022, after a European Parliament investigation showed that the phone of the MEP and leader of the Greek socialist party had been hacked by the illegal surveillance software. The scandal led to the resignations of both the chief of the National Intelligence Service and the PrimeMinister’s general secretary on 5 August 2022, with the latter filing defamation claims for hundreds of thousands of euros against investigative journalists and media outlets. The government denies being behind the wiretapping. One lesson from this incident is that, despite the structural weaknesses of Greek investigative reporting (lack of resources, lack of editorial freedom, partisan motives), consistent and thorough reporting by small niche outlets was effective in uncovering a major scandal with political repercussions.
Free University Brussels (VUB)
We introduced education quotas for the first time in Greece as part of our efforts to make data as representative as possible of national populations. As a result, 2023 data will be more accurate but not always directly comparable with previous years.
Pay for online news
Trust in news overall
Trust in news I use
Trust in news fell by 8pp, partly due to heated debate about political and business influence on news media. This fall was largely reflected at the brand level, although trust in public broadcaster ERT increased by 3pp this year. Generally local news outlets have high trust, while partisan commercial national broadcasters and tabloid newspapers or tabloid-style digital-born news websites are least trusted.