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Digital Media Awards: Award for GRReporter

02 July 2014 / 17:07:27  


Maria S. Topalova, Director of GRReporter, talks to about the Best Thematic Site Award (bronze medal) it has won, forecasting that the future belongs to digital media.

 Would you make a short presentation of

Bulgaria and Greece are two neighbouring countries that, in terms of  history, were always at war with each other - from antiquity through the Middle Ages, even during the three world wars of the 20th century, the First, the Second and the Cold, they were always on opposite sides. Although in the 21st century they are partners in the European Union and NATO, they do not know each other well and there are a lot of rooted stereotypes and prejudices between them. Right here plays its role, as it is an information portal with news from Greece in Bulgarian and English, and from Bulgaria in the Greek language, which enables readers to "see" the two countries without clichés and prejudices. Bulgaria and Greece have very similar problems, for example, the economic crisis, trafficking in people, organized crime, football mafia, freedom of speech – both of them are at the bottom of the global rankings in terms of it. Similar problems suggest similar solutions and we strive to be a platform where they can be discussed and debated.

What does the award received mean to you? won a bronze medal in the best thematic site category. For us this is our first award in Greece (we already have two awards from the Bulgarian Web Association, for Best Regional Site in 2012 and for Best Bulgarian Media Abroad in 2013). I want to thank the organizers of the contest for giving us the opportunity to participate in this prestigious contest and the jury for awarding us along with media that we highly respect. In turn, I can assure them that we will continue to comply with the highest professional standards in both the Greek and the Bulgarian media environment. I would like to thank for the invitation to present us to its audience and to invite in turn Mrs. Eli Stai to very soon be a guest of the audience of

What is the level of the Greek digital media in your opinion?

A recent study at the European level published on shows that, although Greece has 100% coverage of high-speed internet, only 2% of users have subscribed to it. This percentage will inevitably increase which means that the market for digital media in Greece will expand and will increase both its audience and influence. On the other hand, audience of traditional media in Greece will be continually turning to them as well. Take the example of television stations - it is not common for such a limited advertising market, such as the Greek one, to have five commercial television stations with the same business and programming model. I mean Alfa, Antenna, Mega Star and Skai. The options for them are two - either to consolidate into a strong, professional media, or to be marginalized. Similar is the situation in the newspaper market, where the dilemma is again consolidation or marginalization. Apart from everything else, this is necessary due to the economic crisis too. Traditional media in Greece are too numerous and inflated, and their market share will gradually shrink in favour of digital.

 How will digital media develop both in Greece and around the world?

There is no doubt that the future belongs to digital media, which are smaller, flexible and adaptable in terms of organization compared to traditional media. The Internet has established itself as a medium for disseminating information but, along with that, it has put the media in a continuous global competition that knows no national or language limitations. This competition has changed the nature of journalism - a reporter today must be aware of not only economics, sports and justice, speak at least 2-3 foreign languages, but also must be a good photographer and video operator. At the same time, digital media are still searching for their business model, which will probably form as a combination of paid content, advertising, donations, e-commerce, sponsorship. The virtual space is currently very dynamic and mobile, and there is no greater professional challenge than imposing a new media brand in such a competitive environment.

 Do you think the Greek audience is already oriented towards digital media? What does it look for in them?

My impression is that young Greeks, aged 30 years and below, are bored with traditional media and in many cases, they have good reason. They prefer a more casual way of being informed, devoid of the didactics of television news presentation, for example. Young people have a sense of humour and position, and need to be heard, to be part of the public dialogue and this is a great niche in the market for digital media. They have to be involved as active participants in the media environment, be it via social networks, through the so-called citizens journalism or in some other way.

 What is your forecast for digital media over the next two years, for example?

Due to the reasons I have mentioned in the previous questions, I think digital media in Greece will progress in the coming years. New media that have originated as online publications such as on the one hand and traditional media on the other will increasingly rely on their online editions at the expense of their paper versions or broadcasting. This is a global process and there is no other way than Greece becoming part of it. Of course, due to global competition, those media that produce their own content and maintain high professional standards alone have a chance to establish themselves. I think a large international media player will inevitably enter the Greek digital market in the coming years, either through the acquisition of existing media, or through the development of a completely new media. Unfortunately, this happened neither in the newspaper nor in the television industry, and they have remained at a local level, with limited local influence. Greek digital media have a chance to go much further.
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