Dimitris Maris at the Delphi Economic Forum: Now is the time for new initiatives

The Chairman of the Greek Online Publishers Association (ΕΝΕD) and Founder & Chairman of the Board of the 24Media Group, gave a keynote speech at the Delphi Economic Forum, opening the discussion on the protection of the 4th Estate, the media and everything that is at stake in the future. 

Greece needs media that is cost-efficient, operationally autonomous, modern and adapted to contemporary needs” noted the Chairman of 24MEDIA and the Online Publishers Association, Dimitris Maris, opening the discussion on the significance of the Media in today’s democracies. In his keynote speech at a panel of the Delphi Economic Forum entitled “Protecting the fourth Estate: Democracy, accountability and the Media”.

“Media organizations are thought to play a significant role in democracies, yet how effective are they in exercising this function?” said Mr. Maris, referring to the challenges of new technologies in the “information market”.
Content is determined by the technology used in its production and dissemination

The Chairman of ENED reminded participants of the assessment he had made at last year’s forum, namely that the traditional publisher is perishing”; speaking of an inevitability in effect all over the world. As he said, new technologies are what determine the framework which news media must adapt to. “Content is determined by the technology used to produce and disseminate it” he noted, referring to the theory of technological determinism. Based on the former, Mr. Maris pointed out that “the message has been adapted to the media, the media has determined the structure of the message and consequently the media has become the message”, mentioning twitter as an example, which forces users to fit the meaning of what they want to express into 140 characters.

“With this as a theoretical basis, in our media microcosm, we are shifting the focus towards CONTEXT, the technological environment, the framework. As we like to say at 24MEDIA, “if CONTENT is king, CONTEXT is queen” . We produce content that is dispersed across multiple technological platforms via new and traditional media. We try to approach the consumer through different communication channels and in this attempt we adapt the message to the requirements determined by technology. In the end, the message has been adapted to the media, the media has determined the structure of the message and consequently the media has become the message”, stressed Mr. Maris.

After a general overview of how technology influences the way in which news is produced and broadcast, the Chairman of the 24MEDIA group said that there remain large issues at stake with regard to Greek media. He mentioned the need for financially and operationally independent media, whose influence is “the result of quality and established journalism rules and not of close business ties, interests and equilibriums”.

Mr. Maris put forth the example of TV which has recently been a source of controversy in Greece, pointing out how “private TV stations are making cuts to their information budgets and turning to entertainment. And this is because they are trying to fight back the dominant trend which seems to point to the fact that the free-to-air TV model is no longer sustainable”. 

We should target all potential audiences

Prompted by the changes to the TV status quo, the Chairman of ENED also spoke of the developments at the TV station MEGA. “One of the reasons why Theocharis Filippopoulos and myself became interested in the Mega Channel project, is because we both realized that there was something special about Mega. Despite its enormous problems, and due to its rich archives and strong brand, it could under proper administration be yet again be rendered profitable”, he noted, orientating success however towards the new digital age.

“To the question: “Will Mega ever again be able to manage a production of the standard of “The Island”, the answer is “No, not under these circumstances”. In order for this to happen there is a series of specific conditions.

One of them is for example, the degree to which the station could incorporate a digital rationale and cooperate with digital organizations already established and successful. Weather it could produce a new “Island” but this time exploit it properly across all platforms, in all ways, and across all potential audiences. Thus creating an exportable product as do Denmark and Turkey”, said Mr. Maris. 

Radio is a two-way media, creating groups and communities

Mr. Maris also mentioned the radio sector which “is of significant interest”. “Radio is a two-way media that creates groups and communities, accompanies listeners in various aspects of their daily lives and despite the proliferation of vertical services such as podcasts and on demand music services such as Spotify, it remains attractive and participatory” he said.
Beyond each individual information and communication media, the Chairman of 24MEDIA called on entrepreneurs and governments to focus on setting broader and firmer foundations. “Greece must soon invest at an infrastructure level, namely in fast broadband internet everywhere” noted Mr. Maris who also observed that our country is far behind other EU countries in this respect. Apart from the clear-cut obligations of the state, Mr. Maris also highlighted the need for initiatives by entrepreneurs. He also spoke of the ENED code of ethics, which as he said, is “our latest great bet as ENED”, which however “was not a state initiative”.   

Now is the time for initiatives

“After more than 7 years of financial crisis, it has become clear that each and every one of us shall have to contribute in our own way to guide our country out of the crisis” stressed the Chairman of 24MEDIA and of the Online Publishers’ Association, Mr. Maris, calling for investments in the industrial infrastructure that our country needs right now, which is none other than the digital one. “If ever there was an imperative time for new initiative, this time is now” concluded Mr. Maris.