In Nicosia, the banks are open again and foreign journalists have largely returned home. But it’s worth sparing a thought for the 300 or so staff at CyBC, the public broadcaster in Cyprus, which ran blanket coverage throughout the banking crisis. The week and a half of tense negotiations may be over but the story of the economic fallout, and the cleanup, is only beginning.
From Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation, Constantinos Tsintas, news and current affairs editor (pictured below); and Yianna Iacovou from public and international relations; told the CBA what it was like as national broadcasters, covering a crisis of such intense international interest:
Faithful to its mandate, the public broadcaster was on the frontline of the dramatic and unprecedented events, which brought Cyprus to the brink of disaster. For the full duration of the troika and Eurogroup negotiations with the Cyprus government, culminating in the dawn bailout agreement on 25 March, CyBC cut into its regular programming with live reports, debates and breaking news stories from morning until late at night.
The financial situation no longer allows the luxury of overtime, so all colleagues were working on the promise of time off. Getting the information out to the public about the situation unfolding was a much greater priority. CyBC was on most occasions the only valid source of information on events changing from minute to minute.
As journalists, technicians, video editors and managers we overcame any emotional reactions we might have had to what was unfolding, as well as putting aside any physical strain. The country’s future was at stake. We had to rise to the occasion, and gave 200 per cent of our strength, providing accurate and live coverage, completely changing the programming to suit the enormity of the situation.
We had two reporters in Brussels from 14 March providing live reports on television and radio. March 16 was the beginning of 11 days of the nation being on the edge of its seat as President Anastasiadis returned to Nicosia and submitted the Eurogroup deal to parliament. CyBC programming switched almost entirely to dramatic developments on this story, with marathon live programmes and analysis.
This was the biggest story to unfold in Cyprus since the tragic conflict of 1974. It was our task also to keep Cypriot communities abroad informed. Radio and television were synced and many times, radio would break into its programmes and broadcast live television reports so the public could be kept in touch with developments even if they were not at home.
CyBC Director-General Themis Themistocleous praised his staff: “I congratulate and offer my warmest thanks to everyone for your excellent coverage of events and informing of citizens on every aspect of these most unhappy developments.
“Your work is appreciated both in Cyprus and internationally, as visits to our website by Cypriots living abroad have broken every record, while, CyBC footage has been provided around the world through the European Broadcasting Union. We are obliged to keep up the level of this important service – and I am certain of your immediate response, any time it is requested of you.”