By Nick Stamatakis

The announcement at goarch.org is short and concise: “H.E. Archbishop Elpidophoros welcomed The Greek American members of the Press today at The Archdiocese who presented His Eminence with a Birthday Cake and wished H.E. Many Years.” (link here for more photos).

Well, where to start? First things first, the “members of the press” that you see in the photos are simply “photographers” – our title is correct.  There is NO ONE among these nine people pictured in the photos of the event that EVER wrote ONE word of opinion – forget criticism – about this Archbishop and most of them about ANY Archbishop.  Their “press” job is to follow the Church leader with the camera and photograph him.  Or hold the microphone in front of him to make statements. Therefore they are photographers and or cameramen.

Second and very important for its novelty: When did you ever hear the “members of the press” buying a birthday cake for the Archbishop and going to the 79th Street “Istanbul Commune” to celebrate his birthday? We have never seen or heard anything like that. Maybe in Mao Zedong’s China, maybe in Nicolae Ceausescu’s Romania, maybe in today’s North Korea… This takes “brown nosing” (to use the milder term that comes to mind) to a whole new level… The press is supposed from its constitutional role to “criticize authority”, not to be in bed with it.  In our small community the authority who we are supposed to “hold accountable” is the Church leadership and our communities and organizations leadership.  But this is a job for journalists not for photographers like the ones seen here.

H.E. Archbishop Elpidophoros welcomed The Greek American members of the Press today at The Archdiocese who presented His Eminence with a Birthday Cake and wished H.E. Many Years.
Photos: © GOA/Dimitrios Panagos

Finally, the photos rekindled a personal memory of about thirty years ago.  I was a 30-year-old doctoral student at Stony Brook and I had just started my business as I was also working at TNH as a journalist. My main duty almost from the start, was the main editorial of the paper (TNH did not have a main editorial before I started – at least not on a regular basis) as well as other opinion work, translations, and some local NY news.  I remember the conference room where the journalists met Elpidophoros yesterday, I remember it very clearly.

It was the only time I had been there and it was a rather rare occasion, at a press conference of the famed AB Iakovos. Iakovos, with his oversized, world-class personality was not afraid of press conferences like his successors.  It was a few weeks after Iakovos had read whole paragraphs out of the main editorial I had written when he was addressing a massive rally (over 30,000 participants) in front of the United Nations Building regarding the “Name of Macedonia”.  The editorials were not signed of course but Iakovos and some other leaders of the community knew who was the author. It was a small paper in a rather small community, resembling in many ways a Greek small town…

AB Iakovos started accepting and answering questions around the table. A few minutes later, I raised my hand. Iakovos asked me my name.  At about 30, and not being a reporter “on the road” daily my face was rather unknown. But my writing was well known from many other articles with my byline. The moment I said “Stamatakis”, Iakovos turned to me with a mix of respect and curiosity.  He knew who I was. At the time the TNH editor Diamataris was following Karloutsos’ directives and the plan was to discredit and overthrow Iakovos. Something that has been done several times since then.

I asked my questions and received respectful answers from Iakovos.  Returning to TNH offices, everyone, including the publisher Diamataris, was waiting for me to turn my report into the front page headline piece. There were no “PageMaker” computers then – we were still cutting the printout “columns” and pasting them on the board preparing the pages for the printing press next door. When Diamataris saw my title (a rather moderate but accurate depiction of what had transpired in the press conference) he did not like it; he expected a very negative title to accommodate the Karloutsos plans. He asked me to change the title.  I put my feet down and said: “If you are going to change the title then put someone else’s name in the byline”.  He did not like my answer and kept my title as it was, but moved the issue on the side of the front page as a one-column piece – instead of the 5-column headliner he planned.

This, my friends, is a good taste of journalism – even in the limited world of our small community… Very different from photography as you can tell.

PS. No, Helleniscope was not invited to participate (and share the expense for the cake).  The event was only for photographers as I explained.

PS2. Please do not compare the situation then with today’s efforts against the Archbishop. There is no comparison.  First, TNH has no power anymore, very few pay attention to the paper’s opinion. Second and most importantly, Karloutsos is again active in the background but the whole system that supported him and TNH then is now ready to collapse. Third, this Archbishop was on a mission since before he was elected and this mission was against Orthodoxy and Hellenism.

PS3. The main photo gives the impression of a “goodbye” photo, don’t you think? The many novelties (orthodox hierarchs don’t usually celebrate their birthday, especially publically with the company of the “press” who bought them the cake) anticipate and prepare for major announcements.

November 29, 2023, n.stamatakis@aol.com   www.helleniscope.com

DISCLAIMER: The views and statements expressed in this article constitute constitutionally protected opinions of this author.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Very impressive you had exchange with the legendary Archbishop Iakovos.
    And Yes indeed…
    that photo looks like a goodbye to Elpi. Hmmm

  2. They are business men and Niko
    as business men ourselves we know
    that spending for the cake….. is business promotion………

  3. I’m waiting to see the photographers’ articles. If I read the news correctly, Elpidoktonos gave them an off-the-record discussion, probably about the how the cake tasted.

    Nick, you are a true journalist and play an important role in our public affairs. Please never stop asking questions and putting the feet of those in power in fire. It is the only guard we have against corruption.

    I wish these photographers would read the book “The Elements of Journalism,” by Kovach and Rovenstiel. It’s a classic first-year journalism text book that sells for about five bucks. It’s an eye-opener on what keeps a democracy from dying.

    • “Lee …John Swinton ..1883 ..Free lance journalist and then Editor on New York City – Horace Greeley and New York Sun times would apprecitate what Nick, and other journalist do in trying to bring truth to populist , and John Swinton exposes why we still have U.S mainstream media continue to do what they do ..lie to the public and disgracefully like Fox News , New Yorrk Times , CNN everynight are responsible for the deaths of million of human beings thruout the world …

      “There is no such a thing in America as an independent press, unless it is out in country towns. You are all slaves. You know it, and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to express an honest opinion. If you expressed it, you would know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid $150 for keeping honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for doing similar things. If I should allow honest opinions to be printed in one issue of my paper, I would be like Othello before twenty-four hours: my occupation would be gone. The man who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the street hunting for another job. The business of a New York journalist is to distort the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to villify, to fawn at the feet of Mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread, or for what is about the same — his salary. You know this, and I know it; and what foolery to be toasting an “Independent Press”! We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are jumping-jacks. They pull the string and we dance. Our time, our talents, our lives, our possibilities, are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.”

      John Swinton – New York Sun Times – 1883

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