A social movement that aims to communicate the course of events free from party political frameworks and regime censorship, the necessity of counter-information media is undeniable. The existence of counter-information media is self-evident for the anti-authoritarian movement. It is defined by the nature of information that resists the propagandist character of mainstream media. It is also defined by the need for expression of those whom the mass media insist to ignore, to marginalize and ultimately to isolate.
This kind of necessity is not new. In Greece, the first anarchist newspapers emerged in two major urban centers, Patras and Pyrgos (Northern Peloponnisos), in the late 1800. Specifically, the anarchist association of Patras was publishing the newspaper “Epi ta Proso” (1896) and the anarchist association of Pyrgos was publishing the newspaper “Neon Fos” (1898). In this presentation, however, we will make a short description of counter-information media that emerged from 1985 onwards, when the anarchist movement in Greece sought to establish organizational structures.
One of the first newspapers that were issued during this period was DOKIMI (1985-1987). In the spring of 1987, a two-day meeting of anarchists from the whole country was organized as a result of initiatives taken by individuals that participated in DOKIMI and comrades from other groups. This meeting was the starting point of a political process that led to the inauguration of the Anarchists’ Union and the issue of the newspaper ANARCHIA, which was circulated on a national level and suspended the publication of DOKIMI. Later on, a group of comrades who participated in the Anarchists’ Union disagreed with the group on its ideological grounds and proceeded to the creation of the Anarchists’ Assembly (SYSPIROSI ANARCHIKON) and the issue of the newspaper ENANTIA in 1988 and the magazine ANARHIKI THEORISI around 1990. ENANTIA suspended its circulation after another schism within the Anarchists’ Assembly this time. Then the Anarchists’ Assembly decided to undertake the issue of the newspaper EXEGERSI and nowadays participates in the editorial of the newspaper DIADRΟMI ELEYTHERIAS. Some of those who left the Anarchists’ Assembly issued later on the ANARHIKO DELTIO that has been renamed to MAVRI SIMEA. Parallel to the publication of the newspaper ENANTIA (1988) from the Anarchists’ Assembly in Athens, Thessalonikis’ Anarchists’ Union decided to issue the newspaper EKTOS NOMU on a local level.
One of the most encompassing and popular anarchist newspapers with correspondents throughout Greece was ALFA. It was circulated as a weekly anarchist paper from 1994 to 1998. It published 150 issues that were distributed to the whole of the country through a press agency. In this way, ALFA contributed to the dispersion of anarchism to populations outside the major urban centers and to the creation of hangouts outside Athens and Thessaloniki as well as to the establishment of a national anarchist network. It also linked the Greek anarchist movement to international networks and exposed local anarchists to other schools of anarchism and autonomy. For example, ALFA hosted a weekly column about “the history of freedom”; it covered international news and ran the first anti-authoritarian website in Greece. Another distinctive feature was that ALFA allowed several schools of anarchist thought to be expressed in the variety of articles that were published. ALFA published articles about the non-formalist insurrectionary organization as well as texts by anarcho-christians, anarcho-syndicalists and anarcho-punks.
This idea of networking and ideological pluralism can be identified today in several projects that emerged as a result of the current conditions (regime propaganda, repression and so on). Nowadays several media (blogs, webpages, and social networks) host counter-information projects. This does not cancel, however, the necessity of printed press and this can be easily explained. First, parts of the population do not have direct access to electronic media. Second, information and news published on electronic media can be easily manipulated by groups that are interested in promoting their own ideological framework or by power structures. The mixture of information and personal analysis, which projects the latter as part of the former, is a typical example of this kind of interference. Printed press on the contrary allows for a distinction of personal analysis from reporting events, something that is emphasized by several counter-information media in Greece such as APATRIS and anarchypress.gr.
A brief review of the current status
The newspaper GILOTINA constitutes a collective and self-organized counter-information project from anarchists and anti-authoritarians from the city of Agrinio (Western Greece). The project is against commercial, profiting and delegation principles. On these grounds, the GILOTINA collective has developed a local and independent counter-information and communication network.
The anarchist newspaper MAVRI SIMEA has been published for 15 years in Excarchia by the editorial team of Anarchists in Solidarity (Solidarios). It is distributed irregularly and without any fare.
The street newspaper RESALTO has been issued since 2005 by the RESALTO hangout. RESALTO includes local as well as general (central) issues, aiming to develop a social consciousness against any kind of power. It is published in 5.000 copies and it is distributed on the streets, squares, schools, flea markets, work environments and socio-political events without any fare. Publication costs are solely covered by the assembly of the hangout and it is a firm and non-negotiable decision that the project shall not be economically supported by State or European funds, political parties or local authorities, municipal parties or non-governmental organizations, private sponsors or marketers.
Diadromi Eleftherias has been issued since April 2002 as a monthly nationwide anarchist journal. At first, several collectives were involved in the project. Today, the newspaper is published by three of them, namely Syspeirosi Anarchikon (Coiling Anarchist), ANARCHIKI ARHIOTHIKI and ANARHIKOS PIRINAS XANA STOUS DROMUS. In September 2013, the 130th issue of the newspaper was published which is available in several places in Greece (Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras) for a fixed price (1.50 euros).
The first issue of the newspaper ANTIPNIA was printed in April 2009 in 5,000 copies. It is distributed on the streets, especially in the neighborhoods of Koukaki, Petralona and Theseus, as well as at self-organized spaces, hangouts and squats. As stated by the editorial team, the distribution is free of charge. The newspaper is issued with the financial (and not only) contribution of those who are involved in the homonymous hangout and it is in no way connected to municipal authorities, non-governmental organizations, political parties or other associations.
The anarcho-syndicalist newspaper ROSINANTE is run by the editorial team of the Anarcho-syndicalist Initiative ROSINANTE. Its purpose is to promote revolutionary anarcho-syndicalism amongst unions and workplaces, as well as to inform on workers’ issues. Although the signed articles express the view of the authors, they have the general approval of the editorial team unless otherwise indicated. The reproduction of articles is free and the editorial team only asks to indicate the source.
The newspaper DRASI is a bi-monthly newspaper, distributed for free in work environments and social spaces, which addresses workers in general. Its operation is based on open and direct-democratic assemblies where everyone is invited to participate. The goal is to help developing a diverse and emancipated mass movement of workers, while developing a pluralist counter-information voice and an open forum for practical forms of solidarity and coiling of workers.
The street newspaper APATRIS began in 2009 from Heraklion (Crete) and for a year was distributed only locally. In 2010, comrades from other places in Crete began to collaborate with the project. Since then and for about 2.5 years APATRIS has been issued as a Pancreatan anarchist newspaper. The next issue will be published in the second week of October 2013 and it has a nationwide character, i.e. it is based on the collaboration of comrades throughout Greece.
The basic standpoint of the initial editorial team, according to the editorial of the first issue (March 2009), referred to the inability of existing information structures to be used as reliable means of news broadcasting and free expression and therefore any attempt with a reformist character would not be effective. As a means of counter-information, APATRIS may contribute to the co-production of an independent social discourse. As a result, the individual responsibility of each author is stressed. They claim that: “The purpose of this publication is not to shape a common line or agenda that suggests the soundest solution. Our aim is to hear opinions not necessarily in complete agreement with each other, views and events carefully buried by the mass media and altered under the weight of authoritarian interests, but also to perceive the developments around us in order to develop our texts and our actions”.
APATRIS recently made a call for a meeting to all existing counter-information media in Greece. The meeting finally took place on June 29, 2013 in Heraklion, Crete. Different collectives active in counter-information took part (Athens Indymedia, Candia Alternativa, Radio Revolt, 98 fm, Espiv, APATRIS, etc). Similar initiatives had taken place in the past (Thessaloniki 2011, Athens) in reaction to the repression of various counter-information media. These past meetings highlighted the need for more structured, regular and nationwide series of meetings.
APATRIS had a twofold proposal that presented in the aforementioned meeting (June 2013). The first part referred to APATRIS’ wish to become a counter-information newspaper based on a nationwide collaboration. This was ultimately decided and hence the next issue is to be published nationwide. Under these circumstances, those interested in participating to the publishing of a decentralized nationwide APATRIS set the basis for their cooperation. The discussion led to the following basic points concerning the organization and operation of a nationwide APATRIS:
1. Structure of the nationwide APATRIS
For a decentralized operation of this project, several editorial teams will be created, which will operate on a local level. According to the initial position of APATRIS about the personal responsibility of each writer, it was stressed that the editorial team will consist of people whose participation in other collectives will not bind or affect the operation of the newspaper or the local editorial team. Therefore, the editorial team cannot be the means for ratifying decisions made by assemblies that are not related to APATRIS.
2. Tasks of the editorial groups
Each editorial group is committed to contribute a certain number of pages to each issue. For example, the editorial team in Athens will initially supply 6 pages, the corresponding group of central Greece 3 pages, and so on. This number can change depending on current conditions. This means that each editorial group can claim extra material depending on timeliness. Each local editorial team will deal with the following:
- Suggestions on the material for publication and decisions on the articles that will be issued.
- Feedback about local events.
- Suggestions for events and collaborations with APATRIS.
- Management of financial issues of the newspaper on local level (events for financial aid, contributions by hangouts, squats, comrades, etc).
- Management of distribution in their area.
- Proposals for the general operation of the newspaper.
3. APATRIS’ material
Priority for publication is given in the following order:
- News and local news
- Analyses of all involved in the project
- Letters and original texts
- Republication and historical articles
The texts that will not appear in an issue will either be published on APATRIS’ website or in the next printed issue if considered to be important. As mentioned, the material of each editorial team will not be written by the whole team but each member is bound to propose something to write, which he/she will also sign. This, however, will not prevent an editorial team from writing a collective text if this is decided at the assembly. The cooperation between members of different editing groups is also possible if this is desirable and feasible. If an editing team cannot cover the initially agreed number of pages, the gap will be supplemented by texts of other groups.
4. Coordination of editorial groups
APATRIS also wishes to continue working without chief editors but through the active participation of everyone. To share the editing to all members, a forum is created, which will be the setup site of the newspaper in regards to its topics. All the articles to be published will be uploaded there and corrections, comments and suggestions will be made underneath. These, however, will not be in any way binding for the author of each article.
5. Distribution and cost
The distribution and the cost are managed according to “Each one contributes according to his/her capabilities and consumes according to his/her needs.” This means that, apart from the initial responsibility that each editorial team has to cover the costs coming from the published issues that are shared locally (with concerts, financial support etc), it is possible to cover part of the costs from the main repository.
The second part of the meeting (June 2013) was about the relation between APATRIS and other local projects of counter-information. APATRIS was clear in its desire to operate complementary as a platform of counter-information which would strengthen the local projects on three levels. First, self-education will be promoted and enhanced through a series of seminars for the usage of tools for publishing an issue. Second, technical infrastructure including the material and advisory support of the local editorial projects to a feasible extent. Third, the creation of a nationwide stable organized network of counter-information. Radio channels, websites, and publications will be part of the network. This horizontal connection of nationwide counter-information projects arises from the need to increase the production of primary news, the triangulation of information and the consequent avoidance of regime propaganda. The same need, given the current conditions (state repression, labor terrorism etc), is present at an international level. As a result, APATRIS wishes to make connections with similar projects abroad, with the goal to create an international network of counter-information media. In this context the first collaborations of APATRIS with newspapers such as Brand (Sweden) and La miccia (Italy) are about to begin. Initially, these collaborations will be limited to exchanges of translated articles that will be published by APATRIS.
There is also a proposal to create a central website where several local counter-information projects across Europe will upload their articles. The translation of texts can either be made by the same local groups or by counter-translation teams that are already active within the anti-authoritarian movement.
We need to make clear that the ultimate purpose of this presentation is not only to present relevant counter-information projects in Greece, and in particular APATRIS, but also to express the need for creating an international network. We are making a call for participation in both collectives, i.e. teams that already exist on projects abroad, and individuals working or interested in activating themselves in the field of counter-information.
Text from the presentation of Apatris in the anarchist bookfair in Malmö, Sweden.