Although the Greek media landscape has changed dramatically over the last few years with terrestrial radio and print media being challenged by online news and social network platforms, Greek media continues to survive, and even thrive, by having quickly adapted to these new technologies and mediums. It survives as a de facto ambassador for the Greek language and culture whilst assisting with integration into the Australian mindset.
Greek media, mainly radio and print, established itself in the late 50’s and onwards, during the large wave of Greek migration to Australia. It focused and targeted mostly the “involuntary migrant”. The migrant that arrived as a consequence of economic and political turmoil in Greece. It became a carrier of the home culture and alleviated feelings of homesickness. As English proficiency was limited, many connected with Greek media outlets immediately as it helped them overcome literacy barriers and served as a valuable, and to some extent indispensable, news, entertainment and social calendar source.
This remains just as relevant today, especially for the elderly, in their original terrestrial transmission tower and hard-print forms, as financial and proficiency factors render the internet information highway a foreign concept. Greek radio and newspapers continue to reinforce the Greek community’s ethnic and cultural identity. They overcome literacy barriers to help connect with news, information and assist with an understanding of available services and an individual’s rights in their adopted country. They champion political and financial activism in Australia on behalf, and for the benefit of their country of birth, Greece. They have also, and continue to provide, a platform for the Greek business community to grow and promote their products and services, as mainstream media can be cost-prohibitive and to some extent, irrelevant to their targeted demographic: their fellow expatriates and families.
Recent professional Greek immigrants, however, are more likely to access mainstream and local Greek media sources via the internet due to their bilingual proficiency in order to stay on top of the news cycle and events in their country of origin, as well of their country of settlement. A further challenge involves the Australian-born children of migrants who are unable to connect with Greek media in the home language of their parents. These issues pose a new set of challenges for Australian-based Greek radio stations and newspapers. The online versions of their services have to provide an English language pathway with thematology that is both relevant and for easy consumption. The obvious solution is diversification of existing services rather simple online mirroring. This, fortunately, seems to be the direction being taken so far by the premium Greek radio stations and newspapers and thus providing them an extension of their timeline.
Greek newspapers and radio are integral to the media mix in Australia. They promote integration rather than separatism. They are an indispensable settlement resource for new migrants, whilst the well-established migrants continue to benefit by learning about valuable Health and Social Services, local events, cultural festivals and being entertained. For many, it remains their only window to the world.
* Chris Despotakis is the owner and Managing Director of Radio ENA.