An academic UN reporter

Can you tell us how did you decide to be involved in reporting while you have such an important experience in an academic level?

FM: As an academic I  wrote a lot, published articles, I even wrote a book – I just felt that what I was writing about my field was, not uninteresting, but I would say too specialized, like for example the evolution of agriculture since the ancient years. I realized that what I deeply wanted was to deal with social related topics that could affect peoples’ lives – to the extent possible and without having the illusion that through my writing something will change in peoples’ lives. In fact, traveling around the world and witnessing what was happening around me, I felt, detached as an academic, like I live in a bubble. That was the reason why I wanted to do research on social issues and be involved in what we call humanitarian reporting.

You have worked abroad –is there your exact basis of work?

FM:  Currently I am based in Thailand, where I work for Irin News, the humanitarian news agency of the United Nations, which maintains a total of six offices worldwide.  And we are based in the Bangkok office, researching and reporting on humanitarian issues from thirteen countries in South East Asia. We’re doing reports and analyses regarding the humanitarian crises in those countries and in a variety of topics including malnutrition, HIV, violence against women.

Can you tell us about the opinion that people have abroad about Greece?

FM: It depends on the country. I can tell you that, here in Bangkok, in the last two- three years due to the crisis the perception of Greece is a little worse compared to previous years. I constantly keep myself updated with what happens and I am trying to visit Greece as much as I can. The truth is that there such a bad image of Greece abroad that you believe that Greece is going to collapse. Even myself –when I visited Greece a year ago- I expected to see signs of a total collapse. Well, that wasn’t the case, though it is true that there is a feeling of no hope about the future among the Greeks. I felt it here, I saw it on peoples’ faces.

How did you come up with the idea for your reportage  “Rising death in the Streets of Athens: The Human Toll of the Greek Tragedy”?

FM: When the crisis began, despite the fact that I lived abroad, I -in collaboration with the photojournalist Dimitri Boura- had started working on a reportage trying to find out how crisis had actually affected peoples’ lives. Visiting the centre of Athens, I saw people that were completely abandoned.

People totally excluded from society, abandoned from the state, and despite that I am not a politician what I would like to say is that austerity measures that are decided without being evaluated, and are been done offhandedly as they are done in Greece  are dead end and have catastrophic results in the Greek society. The center of Athens doesn’t look like the center of a European city, a historic city center cannot look like that, you can’t “clean” a historic center by throwing people a few steps away, believing that the problem will magically disappear and without having a national strategic plan to face this huge problem, this humanitarian crisis in fact. We knew that the crisis was coming, but we have done nothing for the vulnerable populations-there was research conducted for example by KETHEA (Therapy Center for Dependent Individuals) they had done a full study about what will happen and what needs to be done.  Absolutely nothing. I witnessed things in the heart center of Athens that you can only see in third world countries. For example watching drug addicts in daylight making injections in front of the kids and families, is not seen in any other European city. I think it is outrageous and urgent measures should be taken for the protection of the population, and certainly not by cutting down budgets or with the intervention of police.  

What’s your opinion on the level of academics in Greece?

FM: I really don’t think is satisfactory. There are of course really good colleagues with important publications and others that are not good at all. I think that the system doesn’t work properly. A typical example is that of the pre-contracts according to which someone could be a lecturer for three years.  After that period, they stayed in a state of hostage, meaning that they were in a way obliged to please their superiors in order to have their contract renewed. Furthermore, I believe that both the students and professors are responsible for the bad situation in the Greek universities.

If a young man came to ask you, would you recommend them to leave abroad or stay in Greece?

FM: I believe that it is the right thing for someone to earn their first degree in Greece because one should have lived the Greek system in order to come back and teach in it. As far as the postgraduate studies are concerned, it depends.. I can imagine there are really good graduate programs in Greece but with the limited funding, the cuts in faculty’s salaries and staffing, I believe that faculty members lose their interest in teaching, and the academic level drops.  Regarding  postgraduate and doctoral studies, I would recommend to someone to leave and study abroad. If you are a doctoral candidate abroad, you are treated as a  respected scientist and not like the professor’s assistant, you publish under your own name, you take part in scientific programs and you can participate in conferences. In Greece, a doctoral candidate hasn’t access to such things except for some professors that are willing to help –  and unfortunately they are very few. It sounds harsh, but it’s the truth.

What does Greece mean to you?

FM: One word I would say: Return. Yes, I always come back. Because I believe that I come back to what I really am. Wherever you are, you carry your country inside you. It is who you are, your country of origin defines you. I am Greek and I couldn’t have been anything else really. Honestly, I‘ve never denied it nor am I ashamed of it. No matter how bad things are for Greece right now, I always want to come back and I always get upset and sometimes disappointed but I always return.

If you could ask a question, what would it be?

FM: It depends on the audience. For example, if I had students in front of me, one question that I would ask them would be how do they dream their lives the next years and what they’re doing to make their dreams come true. I would really like to start a discussion on that. If I had citizens in front of me from different social groups, I would simply ask them: Why don’t you react? What else are you waiting for?





An academic UN reporter

Fragkiska Megaloudi started her career on a quite different professional path and schedule. She studied Archaeology and Art History at the School of Philosophy of the Kapodistrian University of Athens and also Medieval History in France. Thanks to her infatuation with France rather than with her academic expertise, Fragkiska continued her studies and received her master’s degree in Environmental Archaeology from the University of Sorbonne. Despite her small income, a scholarship from the University of Sorbonne and the State Scholarships Foundation of Greece supported her in receiving her doctorate in Archaelogy/Archaebotanology from École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris and Toulouse.

After having lived for 7 years in France, Fragkiska Megaloudi relocated to Greece. She started teaching at the Faculty of Mediterranean Studies of the University of the Aegean in Rhodes. Her academic career began to rise with several conferences, lectures, a published book, 25 articles in scientific magazines and many more. In 2008, Megaloudi was positioned as Professor of European Prehistory at the University of Western Australia in Perth.

At some point in her life, Fragkiska realized that she had been walking on a less satisfactory professional path, as she had always dreamed of working with people rather than with ideas. One day, she woke up and decided to leave Australia, as simple as that. Her possible future destination would be Africa or Asia, as long as she would be given the chance to work next to the needy.

Of course, life wasn’t meant to be easy. She chose to gain her first experience working for a Greek non governmental organization in Middle East, but things on professional level didn’t turn out as expected. She didn’t give up and persisted in her desire facing difficulties and having doubts during long periods of unemployment and disappointment. But she did never quit hope. Suddenly, journalism and reporting came into her life. As an expert in research, a keen traveller and an experienced professional with non governmental organizations, she was able to focus her interests on humanitarian reporting.

She started working with newspapers and web sites in Greece and abroad and later on, a coincidence brought her to Bangkok, where she currently works for the UN Humanitarian News Agency Irin News. At the same time, she’s working for The Press Project, the Insider and and also for the Greek and English edition of the newspaper Neos Kosmos in Melbourne. Articles of Fragkiska Megaloudi have been also published in The Guardian and Huffington Post.

«Click to Read» Fragiska’s Megaloudi interview.



  Comments: 1


    Γεια σας σας; γνωριζω λιγα για σας προσπαθω να μαθαινω οτι μπορω και γοητευομαι απο την τοσο ενδιαφερουσα προσωπικοτητασας .
    Παρα το οτι εργαζομαι 35 χρονια και μαλιστα σε θεση Ευθυνης της ΕΤΕ νομιζω οτι ο θαυμασμος για οτι ανακοινωση ακουω ειναι μεγιστος .Θα ηταν ονειρο ζωης και μαθημα να σας γνωριζω περισσοτερο και μαλιστα να σας συναντησω εστω για λιγο αν ειχατε την ευγενη διαθεση..