So how do you cover a story like this? A story that affects you and your family, a story that left some of your friends and colleagues and members of your family without a job and hope for the future? A colleague who has worked as a photojournalist for over 25 years at one of the top Greek dailies was marching along with several thousands of press people towards the parliament in protest against recent layoffs and pension reductions and other tough measures said to me: “Yannis, I walked from home today. I have no money to put petrol in my motorbike.” and “My last payment was 450 Euros and it’s the first payment after July!!” It was a sunny Tuesday, October 18, 2011.
Our new office in Athens is in the very spot where everything happens; on Athens’ Syntagma square (Constitution square) next to the Greek parliament where all the demonstrations and protests conclude almost every day. It is also the place where “the Indignant” occupied for more than a month last spring and where some of the most extreme violent clashes have taken place in Greece. Our building, as with all other buildings on Syntagma square, remains shut when riots break out. My team of photographers, Yiorgos Karahalis and John Kolesidis, and I climb the seven floors of our building from an external emergency staircase several times a day carrying all our photo gear and safety gear of helmet and gas mask. On those days we skip the gym! But this is the easy part of the job.