On Friday, March 29, 2019 the website of the newspaper “Avgi” published a news item which was titled “The deadline for submitting applications to participate in the European elections for Greek citizens who live in another EU country expires today”. The item was chosen due to its importance for the Greek voters who live in other EU countries and the forthcoming European elections.
From the beginning, it was noticeable that the news item is problematic because of the non-matching of the publication time and date and the date of expiration of the applications. After researching the specific news item on other news websites on the Internet, we find the following:
1. Over 20 websites published the news item with almost the same content and a similar title, on Friday, March 29, 2019. Neither the name of a journalist nor a relative source appear on the news items.
2. At least 15 sites published on Friday, March 29, 2019, the news item with a completely different title and content. According to the specific sites, the applications were prolonged until April 5, 2019. None of the specific sites, except for the APE-MPE, quotes the name of the journalist or a relevant source.
3. It is worth noting that only one website, namely topontiki.gr, has published twice the news item with a different title and content (expiration and extension of the deadline for submitting statements). However, it is not obvious which news item preceded the other.
Following the publication of the two different news items, a research was carried out on the website of the Ministry of Interior, where was found a press release on the extension of the date for the submission of relevant applications. In a further research carried out on the website of the Ministry of Interior, it was found out that there was publication (not press release) which was ruled the deadline of the applications on March 29, 2019.
Therefore, the news item proved to be mostly true, following our verification procedure. The news item was based on the original date set by the Interior Ministry. However, it became apparent that no further investigative research was carried out on the day of the deadline for a possible date change or extension. This news item, coupled with the incorrect mention of the expiration date is misleading as regards the timing of the submission of applications by Greek voters living in EU countries. More specifically, it leads the voters to the wrong conclusions, due to the wrong time frame. Finally, it is worth noting that the process followed for recovering the volume of articles audited and recovering data from the source was not difficult.
Ioanna Kostopoulou, Anthi Balliou, School of Journalism & MC, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, GR