Revisiting The GreekAmerican
By Yiorgos Anagnostou
Who remembers The GreekAmerican? While sorting through several of its past issues in my personal archive, I noticed that the newspaper (1986-2001) offered ample and prominent space to fostering self-understanding of the community. It featured a substantive volume of writing about community history, including calls to recognize the contributions of immigrant women. It probed social and psychological problems confronting sectors of the community. It devoted particular attention to the arts and its role in recognizing the community’s internal diversity. Issue-after-issue I saw a consistent investment by the editorial team to openly discuss difficult issues, rethink taken-for-granted views, voice the experiences of vulnerable populations such as Greek America’s abused women, and provide new ideas.
I share four examples indicative of this orientation:1
1. “ELPIDES1995: ‘Breaking Silences,’” by Susan Kiesel Klerides. April 13, 1996.
2. “Resolving Ethnic Identity Conflicts,” by Susan Spedalle. March 1, 1997. [interview with Maria Nicolaidis]
3. “Introducing Twenty-nine [Women] Pioneers in Greek America,” by Eva Catafygiotu Topping. April 11, 1998.
4. “"‘Mi Hirotera’ – Could be Worse! The Come-out Kid Hits Celluloid,” by Nikolas Karloutsos. June 30, 2000.
I offer this sample as archival evidence as well as a tribute to this kind of “independent and critical” journalism, which as Alexander Kitroeff reminds us, has been recognized as elevating the intellectual level of the Greek American media. The newspaper offers a template for independent-minded editors and community commentators looking for models.
This in a context where the Greek American mediascape is undergoing a major shift. The debt crisis in Greece, and the challenges that this experience presented for the international reputation of the Greek name, has resulted in several Greek American e-media venues privileging the reporting of positive news about Greek culture and the Greek diaspora. Considerable human and financial resources have been directed toward the branding of Greek identity via outlets with national as well as global outreach. This turn, along with the closing of several substantive publications in print, translates to ethnic celebrationism claiming a significant share of media space.
This does not mean that meaningful journalism has been eclipsed within the Greek American mediascape. Existing venues persist and new forms emerge. However, we can speak, I believe, about a process of decentralization. In this new reality readers seeking responsible reporting, analysis, debate, and fresh ideas may need to seek out less visible media, journals, community websites, and selective blogs.
Is there a crisis in Greek American journalism? Editors who wish to invest in substantial journalism–the hallmark of a rigorous civic community–and counter the tide of branding and parochialism may benefit from revisiting The GreekAmerican, an example of responsible journalism promoting critical dialogue and practicing openness.
1. Alexander Kitroeff possesses an almost complete run of the newspaper’s issues. He plans to digitize it under the auspices of a Greek diaspora archive he intends to establish in Athens in 2022, to mark the dual centenary of the establishment of AHEPA & the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America.