Spotlight on Cooperatives

Cooperative Journalism in Greece

"Efimerida ton Syntakton", which in Greek means the newspaper of journalists or “the journalists' journal”, essentially commenced in the summer of 2012 by employees of a major Athens daily.

Article | 22 December 2016
Journalists from the Efimerida ton Syntakton
The initiative to establish the "Efimerida ton Syntakton", which in Greek means the newspaper of journalists or the journalists' journal, essentially commenced in the summer of 2012 by employees of a major Athens daily that ceased publication the previous year.

Discussion and planning by this group of now unemployed people, which included journalists from other media as well, came to a head a few months later in September, when the decision was taken to create a cooperative and publish a daily newspaper with a nationwide circulation that would differ from all the previous papers that had circulated in the country up until that time.

The idea was to publish a newspaper that would not be an appendage of any of the well-known media groups in the country; a publication that would not be dependent, politically or economically, on whatever government held sway at the time or political parties; a paper that would not serve as a "tool" for exercise power by mass media groups or major business concerns.

The primary characteristics of this newspaper are its independence, the fact that it was established and operates as a cooperative, as well as its pluralism.

"Efimerida ton Syntakton" is entering its fifth year of existence and is now second in terms of average sales for daily PM newspapers. The paper is published Monday through Friday, with a special weekend edition featuring more pages, special offers, insets, books or even DVDs.

The print edition is also completed by a dedicated "Ef.Syn" website that operates on a 24-hour basis, and features continuous news, articles as well as the material of the print edition.

The goal behind the paper is, from the very first day of its inception, to offer comprehensive and independent news gathering and information for every facet of politics, the economy, domestic and foreign developments, the arts and culture, as well as sports. It has also a section dedicated to Social and Solidarity Economy.

The paper has succeeded in strengthening pluralism, not just for its working journalists, but for hundreds of contributors who freely publish their views."Ef.Syn" is committed to journalistic codes of ethics, while the philosophy of the paper is to critically but honestly judge every authority and those who claim for authority.

In order to circulate under Greek law, a societe anonyme company was created - Independent Mass Media S.A. Some 95 percent of the shares of the latter company are controlled by the cooperative, essentially the "heart and soul" of the newspaper.

The cooperative is comprised of roughly 135 members, the same number of full-time staff members for the newspaper and website. All of the member-employees are paid the same salary, regardless of their previous work experience or their age.

The cooperative elects a five-member board from its membership. The president of the board of the cooperative participate in the company's board, which also includes the paper's director. The members of the company's board are elected and assume a seat on the board after being approved by the cooperative's general assembly.

The general assembly of the cooperative's members is the highest institution, and the venue where major issues affecting the newspaper are debated and adjudicated.

The newspaper is managed by the director, the managing editor and the editor responsible for the weekend edition, as well as by senior editors of various departments, all of whom comprise the editorial team. The director is elected by the cooperative´s general assembly and the heads of the departments by its members and confer on a daily basis to deal with the issues that arise in a newspaper's operation.

"Ef.Syn" is an unprecedented endeavor in the history of Greece's mass media, as it is the only cooperative attempt in Greek journalism to succeed. The paper's operation, the co-existence and cooperation between the cooperative, the holding company and the director was never a given -- it was not a tested model. The success is the product of daily and strenuous efforts to overcome whatever difficulties and obstacles.

"Ef.Syn" is a newspaper that debuted amid the punishing economic and social crisis in Greece, nevertheless it has succeeded in serving an example to be emulated due to the tireless efforts of its employees. A testament to this is the fact that while practically all other mass media in the country owe their staff back pay -- often extending to months at a time -- "Ef.Syn" manages to cover monthly salaries and all social security fund contributions despite not posting profits.

Nicholas Voulelis
Director of the Journalists` Journal