By Constantinos Psillides
THE Trachonas Community Council has launched a scathing attack on MEGA TV, accusing reporter Natasa Ioannou of violating the journalistic code of conduct during her show “Echeis Meson” on April 8.
In a letter addressed to the Media Ethics Committee and the Cyprus Union Journalists, the council claims that the reporter commented on the recent dispute of the Panayia Trachonas parish committee with Archbishop Chrysostomos, “without knowing the facts and without hearing our side of the story.” The council added that Ioannou “spoke in a derogatory manner.”
Michalis Christou, community leader of Trachonas, told the Cyprus Mail that “the reporter told her audience that the members of the church committee were ungrateful in not allowing the Archbishop access to the parish coffers, because had had helped them build the church and was paying the priest’s salary.” Christou claimed that both those claims made by the Archbishop are not true.
The reporter never actually hurled that accusation at the committee representative, Lefteris Kokkinos, who had phoned in during her show, but rather disagreed on air with him.
The issue came to light a day before, when it became known that the Archbishop had taken €450,000 from the church committee’s accounts. Money, the committee had said, that people donated towards building a new church. The Archbishop had requested the money before, but the church committee had rejected him.
The Church leader reacted angrily to the accusations, saying the Archbishopric is the administrator of all parishes and dismissed two members of the Panayia Trachonas parish committee, including Christou.
“We will hold a press conference very soon and address every single claim the archbishop made,” Christou told the Cyprus Mail.
The council also claims that when Kokkinos called the show to respond to the comments made by the reporter, the station turned down the volume so he could not be heard.
The show is available for online viewing (in Greek). At the 1h44m mark, Kokkinos is heard calling in and berating the reporter for repeating “things that are untrue” and for not being present at a press conference where the committee explained their actions. The reporter presented the representative with comments offered by the Archbishop a day before, when he claimed that he had needed the money to pay the salaries of priests. The reporter added that according to the Archbishop, he had helped them built a church for the parish.
Ioannou explained that this was not her personal take but rather the other side of the story, as told by the Archbishop.
Kokkinos angrily protested the comment, claiming that the reason the Archbishop took the money was to deal with a liquidity issue. Kokkinos was allowed on air for around ten minutes, stopping only when the end credits rolled, which was when the committee claims his microphone was shut.
The station reported on the story during the news broadcast, featuring footage and statements from the press conference.
A representative of the Media Ethics Committee told the Cyprus Mail that the letter was received on Monday and that the committee “will look into it.”
The Church is the majority shareholder of Logos Informational and Cultural Services, that in turn owns Mega TV Cyprus.