Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Newsrooms heat up in countries where 'new austerity measures' is the number one news item

Tomorrow will be a day without print newspapers in Greece as journalists throughout the country protest continued austerity measures.

A 24-hour walkout of newsrooms has meant that TV and radio news programs are missing today, and papers that would be produced today for publication tomorrow can not be created.

Obviously the news blackout is not complete, otherwise how would be hear about it., for instance, today has a news item on its website about the news blackout.

Journalists are not the only professionals protesting austerity measures, ferry operators and other public transportation authorities are also seeing work stoppages.

The issue, of course, is the continued austerity measures being implemented by the Greek government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the leader of New Democracy, the center-right party in control of the government.

The international community is demanding future austerity measures to reduce the deficit, despite the fact that austerity is suppressing consumer spending and leading to a deepening recession. Last week the government reported that unemployment in July had risen to 25.1 percent, up from 24.8 percent in June. As you can see, the unemployment numbers are released a bit later than in the U.S., who knows what the number is for September as we will have to wait two more months to find out.

The employment situation is not much better in Spain. In fact, the latest report also puts unemployment there at 25.1 percent. The financial crisis has different origins than the situation in Greece: the national debt was nonexistent prior to the financial crisis, though exploding now, fueled by the high cost of government burrowing. But the cure, as it is being pushed by both the international community and the government is the same: austerity.

Newsroom unrest is also hitting Spanish media outlets. Roy Greenslade of The Guardian today is reporting that the journalists' union representing reporters at the daily newspaper El PaĆ­s is unhappy with recent layoffs at a time when the paper is reporting profits – though those profits have fallen off a cliff lately.

Journalists at the Spanish daily recent withdrew their bylines in protest of the layoffs which reduced staffing levels by one third.

The reductions in staff, and the poor economic conditions, in general, are leading many digital media professionals to seek emigration – despite the fact that few media companies worldwide are expanding their staffs.