National Herald Still Going Strong After Nine Decades

ATHENS *#8211; Odos Akadimias in Athens is a busy, noisy central Athens street. On its intersection with Odos Dimokritou at No. 1, the overseas heart of *icirc;*iuml; *ocirc;*ouml; (National Herald), America*#8217;s Greek-language daily newspaper, beats on a daily basis. The Athens office, thousands of miles away from the newspaper*#8217;s base in New York, endeavors to provide the Greek American community with objective and reliable information seven days a week.

And today, April 2, 2005, the National Herald celebrates its 90-year, nonstop fight to maintain its presence in the daily reality of Hellenism in America.

Inside our sunny 150-square-meter Athens offices, 26 journalists and technical staff work hard every single day in order to report, compose, edit and lay out the pages of the largest Greek-language daily outside of Greece. The office has been modeled according to the schemes of large newspapers and is graced by the largest staff of any Greek newspaper outside Greece.

It should be noted that Greece is the only country among America*#8217;s endless melting pot of small, as well as large, ethnic minorities *#8211; together with Puerto Rico *#8211; which has survived and maintained a daily publication in its native language, and which is distributed across the United States. The Greek American community not only reads the National Herald every day, but in so doing, it pushes itself forward to a bright, creative and secure future.

In 1983, after 68 years in operation stateside, the Herald opened its first office in Athens. No one could have predicted the outcome, except perhaps National Herald Publisher Antonis Diamataris. The financial risk he was taking at the time was immense. But he obviously had something in mind; he had vision, and he had the inner fortitude to pursue his dream both here and abroad.

The newspaper*#8217;s first Athens offices were housed at Karitsi Square and employed one journalist, Spyros Geroulis, and two assistants, Sia Choleva and Katerina Vlachou. In 1985, the Athens staff was joined by New York collaborator Yiannis Michalakis, and by his colleague Christos Mousouliotis in 1987, and after him, sports correspondent Nikitas Gavalas.

When Mr. Mousouliotis started withdrawing gradually for personal reasons in 1994, the Athens office directing post was filled by the writer of this article.

Gradually, an advertising section, classified ads, page 3 with news from the United States, as well as special issues and inserts like the weekend*#8217;s Simera (Today) were added.

In 2000, the Athens office took another leap by taking over the front page from New York. The electronic revolution made it possible to meet with this big technical and journalistic challenge. A dynamic group of 26 employees *#8211; a number still maintained after personnel changes *#8211;continues to offer a diversity of services in our editorial, sports and cultural sections, as well as in production, advertising, financial and accounting departments.

The Herald has managed to overcome the limitations of a family-oriented medium, reporting news and analyses which spring from direct access to a large variety of sources, and covering some of the most significant historical moments in both Greece and the United States.

Our reporters in Greece and the U.S. communicate with politicians, public officials, Church representatives, news syndicates and artists, thus drawing from firsthand sources of information and qualified opinions expressed both for the record and exclusive statements on all the important issues to both Greek and Greek American societies.

Far from any harmful hyperboles, intentional distortions and party prejudice, our newspaper is a trustworthy medium, which enjoys the appreciation and respect of Greeks from Greece, Cyprus and the United States. The Herald has become the community*#8217;s most reliable and serious voice.

That being the case, it is worthwhile to look back at the Herald*#8217;s 90 years of existence, and try to delve into both its well and not-so-well known past. We can not help but recall the technically challenging days of a pre-computerized world.

Until 1955, news from Greece could only reach New York through telegrams. In 1983, the most important newspaper in the Greek American community employed no more than one Greek correspondent, who could report a small selection of news from Greek politics and sports over the telephone for only a few minutes since overseas calling fees were then so prohibitively expensive. The details of a report were being held up until the following day, by which time, unfortunately, the news was already splashed all over the Greek press.

This rather primitive form of reporting the news, from a journalistic perspective at least, gradually fell by the wayside. But even as late as the 1970*#8217;s, the practices involved with the publication of this newspaper both in Greece and in New York could be still considered challenging, to say the least. According to our longtime reporter and one-time Greek-daily managing editor, Stavros Marmarinos, working at the newspaper involved dealing with a lot of ink and melted-led fumes from linotyping machines.

Signs of this past can be witnessed today at the very entrance of the newspaper*#8217;s New York offices on 41-17 Crescent Street in Long Island City, where on the foyer against the wall on the right, one can see a wooden frame, a museum-worthy exhibit with historic value *#8211; the old so-called kasa (i.e., case) sporting the newspaper*#8217;s header in metallic letters and iron Greek alphabet symbols that were used 80 to 90 years ago, according to Mr. Marmarinos.

Inanimate metal letters soon gave way to vibrant women who typed the news in old computers, Mr. Marmarinos adds. The text was then printed on long photographic paper, which had to be developed, cut into columns and taped on the vacant spots of a large paper page until the final layout was arranged. The page was then photographed, its negative then printed onto a tsigos (metallic plate), which was later put into the printing press.

That was then, Mr. Marmarinos explains. Now, everything has changed. Everything. Except for the fact that the National Herald remains a banner, a frontline guardian of the strength of Hellenism in America, fighting for the national rights and interests of the omogeneia. It is the community*#8217;s best mirror since, for many decades now, it has been recording its daily history.

THE PROCESS

News is collected and classified in Athens according to a Greek American community-related context, and in constant communication with the New York offices. The Athens and Macedonian Press Agencies, Associated Press, Reuters, the Greek and foreign Press and various photography agencies are consulted and referred to throughout this process.

Our correspondents in New York, Demetris Tsakas and Stavros Marmarinos, our New England correspondent, Theodore Kalmoukos, and our Lefkosia (Nicosia) correspondent, Neofytos Kyriakou, are invaluable in the production of the final result.

Our New York offices also house the commercial department headed by assistant to the publisher Veta Diamataris-Papadopoulos, joined by Penny Papakostas and Popi Ragouzeos in classified ads. George Koutsoumbelis in Athens contributes to this department with his longtime experience in advertising.

Also in Athens, Chrysoula Karametros heads the production department and applies her seasoned experience with the help of her capable collaborators into laying out the text, ads on the page and producing all special issues and inserts.

Miss Karametros, who is originally from New York, is also in charge of production for The National Herald, the English-language weekly edition of Εθνικός Κήρυξ, edited in New York currently by its managing editor, Evan C. Lambrou, an award-winning journalist with the Associated Press, who is assisted by Zoe Tsine in New York.

The English-language weekly started as an insert in the Greek daily*#8217;s weekend edition in 1997. It projects news of particular interest to the Greek American readership; is easily the Greek American community*#8217;s most substantive newspaper publication; and, as of Spring 2004, is no longer an insert, but an independent publication to which both offices *#8211; New York and Athens *#8211; and all Herald correspondents, plus various writers and columnists, contribute under Mr. Lambrou*#8217;s watchful eye.

Every evening, the finished pages are sent electronically from Athens to New York, where they are printed in color under the supervision of Mitchell Facey and Glenmore Thomson. Digital designer Kyriakos Papaspyrou, photographer Costas Bej and Panagiotis Vekiarelis, in computer support, held make this possible. The newspaper*#8217;s distribution in the Metropolitan New York area is coordinated by Demetris Parigoris. The paper also travels by plane, train and bus to readers across the U.S. and Canada, a huge task made possible by Nikos Pylarinos and his assistant Cristian Tobar, who organize loading and transport of the newspaper to its various checkpoints.

All this is no small achievement.

In a May 2001 article, the New York Times marveled at the Herald*#8217;s New York-Athens production.

A slew of dedicated professionals is an essential part of the effort on Athens*#8217; side: Sia Choleva, Katerina Vlachou, Apostolia Papageorgiou (copyediting); Milena Peklari, Vicky Hiotoglou, Demetris Chandris, Giorgos Ereimakis (production and advertising); and for sports, a technically independent team headed by Efi Lioga and assisted by Vasilis Magalios and Christodoulos Tzoumas in Athens, as well as Nikitas Gavalas, Nikos Gavalas, Tasos Giannakopoulos, Vaggelis Zorbas, Thanos Liakopoulos and Giorgos Zachariadis in Thessaloniki.

The editorial section includes Aris Papadopoulos, a former New York reporter, and Vasilis Koutsilas. Yiannis Michalakis, also a former Herald reporter, writes the Chronografima column in Simera, while Maria Papanikolaou and Demetris Chriss take care of the entire Simera insert. Mr. Chriss also contributes regularly to the English-language weekly. Kostas Tsaltakis is in charge of finances and computer treatment, and Thaleia Makri is in charge of accounting.

How well the above people do in their assigned tasks is something only the readers can judge, of course, but we nonetheless hope that you will continue to embrace us with the same level trust and support which has enabled us to do our work and serve the public, so far.

THE HARDEST PART

Perhaps the hardest part of running a daily newspaper for 90 years is finding, and then appealing to, an audience which *#8211; as the Greek American community has done for the last nine decades *#8211; can exhibit the necessary faith to strengthen and support it.

Today, the Herald has subscribers who have remained faithful to it for more than 40 years. It was here, on the other side of the Atlantic, that a lot of these people learned to speak Greek and later taught Greek to their children.

These Greeks learned about their homeland*#8217;s achievements, as well as its disasters, through our pages: the Asia Minor Destruction, the Balkan Wars, two World Wars, a Greek Civil War, the invasion of Cyprus The Herald helped the community sustain a link to the homeland and encouraged them to offer their help and support to its troubles in any way they could.

In 1947, food and clothing worth millions of dollars was sent to Greece to heal the many wounds inflicted by the Civil War and German occupation. The struggle to promote the Greek Language and Hellenic issues, the Greek Orthodox Church and Ecumenical Patriarchate resulted in the creation of strong ties between Greek immigrants and the Greek mainland.

The Herald was born on a Friday in April 1915, first appearing across newsstands in the New York Metropolitan area. A full-page interview with Greek statesman Eleftherios Venizelos on that initial front page sealed the newspaper*#8217;s identity, as well as its mark on Greek history.

Despite its wide national appeal, however, this publication has been the product of individual initiative.

Its initial sponsor and pioneer was Amaliada-born Petros Tatanis, who had not been disheartened by previous failed efforts to publish a newspaper which would rival the Royalist-geared Atlantis of publisher Solonas Vlastos. Tatanis fought hard to realize his vision, and to keep it alive, during harsh times not only for Hellenism, but also for humanity. It was a time when Greek immigrants in America were struggling to survive, and to be accepted in American society, gradually progressing in numbers and deeds.

The Herald set high goals in bringing a team of gifted and experienced journalists to New York from Greece. But its most significant contribution came arguably from one man: Rev. Protopresbyter Demetrios Kallimachos, who became the newspaper*#8217;s heart and soul for 18 years. He headed the Herald during the national division caused by the disagreements between King Constantine I and the great Venizelos for the stance Greece took in World War I. The Smyrna Holocaust of 1922 came next, and after that, the American Stock Market Crash.

But the Herald survived despite the pressures imposed on its publisher. In 1933, Mr. Tatanis sold the newspaper to Euripides Kehagias, who for six years struggled nobly to keep it alive before finally handing it over to Paul Demos, a lawyer from Chicago. Demos*#8217; tenure was short-lived, however, as just one year later, in 1940, he passed the Herald*#8217;s heavy load to Vassos Vlavianos.

Mr. Vlavianos was Mr. Tatanis*#8217; worthy successor. He headed the newspaper through some of Greece*#8217;s hardest years: World War II, the Civil War. Mr. Vlavianos was publisher during the Greek war-relief efforts, which helped Greece emerge from the 1940*#8217;s stronger. His dedication and commitment to providing the community with a high-quality newspaper, both in terms of content and in appearance, often met with controversy. When Mr. Vlavianos published a photo of Aris Velouchiotis during the Civil War many were shocked, and some tried to link the newspaper with the incident in the years that followed. Equally unsuccessful was Professor Theodoros Saloutos*#8217; effort to slander the Herald as a newspaper supportive of the dictator, Ioannis Metaxas, in his 1964 book, Greeks in America.*nbsp; The Herald was simply enthusiastic about the Greeks*#8217; OXI (NO) to fascist Moussolini on October 28, 1940 and not a fan of the Greek dictator.

Later efforts to accuse the Herald of supporting the Greek junta were dealt with legally, but perhaps former Cyprus President (and junta-blacklisted) Archbishop Makarios*#8217; visit to our offices in 1974 was the most fitting answer to that particular accusation.

After Mr. Vlavianos left in 1947, Bobby Marketos became director on the Herald*#8217;s 32nd year. Mr. Marketos stayed on board for another 32 years, lifting the organization out of its former state of financial insecurity. In 1972, the rival Atlantis closed down. Mr. Marketos retired in 1977. His chair was then occupied by Gene Rossides until 1979, when Mr. Diamataris took over. The current publisher continues with the paper*#8217;s mission to this day.

It wasn*#8217;t just the publishers who left their mark on their newspaper, however, but also numerous others who collaborated with the Herald; some briefly, others for many years. Among them some of Greece*#8217;s mightiest pens: poet Kostis Palamas, writers Babis Anninos, Demetris Kampouroglou, Demosthenes Voutiras and poet Georgios Drosinis.

There were also the managing editors: Petros Petrides, Costas Kouvaras, Andreas Stroumbos, Nikolaos Mavris, Stephanos Ladas, N. Vavoudis, Efthyfron Ioannidis, Ilias Tzanetis, Michael Politis, D. Vlachos, A. Alexiou, Photis Papaphotiou, Giorgios Generalis, Mina Ioannidou, Anna Arpazoglou, Theano Margari and most recently Panagiotis Makrias, Nikos Spanias, Stavros Marmarinos, who departed for a brief period and later rejoined the Herald, Harilaos Daskalothanasis, and so many more: former Printing Press Director Alekos Spiridakis, linotypist Kyriakos Papanikolaou, Alekos Karousos, secretary Koula Dolgou and her predecessor Evangelia Pachou. Some of these people first joined the Herald as young professionals and retired many years later as Herald employees.

Among the Herald*#8217; other collaborators some of Greece*#8217;s most important intellectuals and artists: Timos Moraitinis, Pavlos Palaiologos, Costis Bastias, Andreas Dimakos, G. Fteris, Panos Karavias, Alekos Lidorikis, Demetris Ioannopoulos, Soteris Skipis, Thymios Tzamouranis, Panos Peklaris, Yiannis Kokkinakis, Antonis Antonakakis, Grigoris Dafnis, Lefteris Kotsaridas, Stephanos Zotos, Giorgos Drosos, Christos Pasalaris, Dimitris Psathas and many others.

These names still make us proud.

Mr. Marmarinos recalls the late Mr. Generalis*#8217; teasing complaint that that the daily struggles of the younger generation of Herald workers were nothing compared to the veterans*#8217; limited means.

We would get a telegram from Greece with just a few phrases on the news, often news about important political events that had shaken Greece to its core; we then had to expand on them and write full articles, he says. Today, you have daily telephone communication with Athens, and everything is ready-made. You plug the tape recorder into the phone, and that*#8217;s it. All you have to do is transcribe the interview. Have you ever wondered what we went through?

In fact, we do wonder, every single day, about the wonder of it all, as we stand on the shoulders of the giants who preceded us, and some of whom are still among us.

LOFTY MISSION

The role that the National Herald plays today in pursuit of the Greek American community*#8217;s lofty mission is crucial. It predicts, encourages, informs, sometimes leads, and often heartens Greek Americans, who have gained much from reading a newspaper geared to their particular niche and interests, as the newspaper endeavors to be immune to party fanaticism and political extremities and adopt and incorporate American journalistic values.

One should, first and foremost, note the Herald*#8217;s contributions to the preservation and perpetuation of the Greek language in America, and recall the two-year struggle the Herald engaged in to that end back in the 1970*#8217;s. It was a struggle which might have left the Greek American community in a state of considerably deeper religious division than it finds itself in today. This historic role is attributed to the Herald by Encyclopedia Britannica, which mentions former Archbishop Iakovos*#8217; actions of 1970.

In 1970, the famous decision of the 20th biennial Clergy-Laity Congress attempted to ostracize use of the Greek language from Divine Liturgy services, thus shaking the foundations and historic dependence of the Greek Orthodox Church in America to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople. In the subsequent Congress held in Houston in 1972, apart from his opening remarks, Archbishop Iakovos had read a text of unspoken submission to the articles of the Charter of the Archdiocese of North *amp; South America, which guard the institution and dogma of the Church, and unite Hellenism in the U.S. with the Patriarchate.

In 1996-99, the Herald reported relentlessly on Iakovos*#8217; successor, former Archbishop Spyridon, who ended up resigning after just three years at the helm of the Church in America. The Spyridon issue, which was a defining period in the omogeneia*#8217;s life, sharply polarized the Greek American community, which tends to consider the Archbishop of America (rightly or wrongly) its primary leader.

The newspaper continues to fight decisively for the Greek language and Orthodox Christianity.

The National Herald has resisted, and continues to resist, the decay of Greek civilization and the marring of the Greek conscience and Hellenism in America. That is truly how the Greek conscience has remained intact and unscathed, writes Mr. Kalmoukos, the newspaper*#8217;s longtime Ecclesiastical and Religious Affairs correspondent. Hellenism is not an abstract idea, a spiritless and colorless culture, as many attempt to falsely or misguidedly present it *#8211; at least those who are afraid to declare openly and clearly that the historic and cultural flesh of the Orthodox Church has been expressed with a particular cultural structure, thought, understanding and language. Let us not forget that the Church accepted Hellenism and Christianized it. This is neither a nationalistic cry, nor an elitist appeal.

The Herald has not only protected Greek culture, but sensing the community*#8217;s pulse, has repeatedly offered spiritual consolation to the Greek immigrants*#8217; often bitter experience of living in a foreign land, while giving them courage and promoting their assent in the American social sphere by stressing team spirit and national unity.

The Herald*#8217;s contributions to promoting Greek foreign issues have proven equally important. It has gone on crusades which have brightened the community*#8217;s historical course in America, and surprised a number of political, corporate and social leaders in its efforts to help shape Washington*#8217;s policies with respect to Hellenic issues.

Cyprus was one such crusade. In January 1950 decree, the Cypriot Committee of America referred to the Herald*#8217;s significant contribution to the Cypriot fight. In 1955, the Herald organized competitions, which awarded tickets to second- and third-generation Greek American children to visit their parents*#8217; homeland with Greek ships, an effort followed by a visit to Greece by a group of 12 Greek American mothers, headed by the late Herald hostess, Mina Ioannidou.

In 1965, more Greeks immigrated to the U.S., changing the community*#8217;s landscape forever. It was a life-changing injection of new blood coming from a vibrant new generation which brought with it a better understanding of modern times.

GREEK AMERICAN PRESS

As mentioned earlier, the former rival newspaper, Atlantis, closed down in 1972. In October 2001, the closing (after two decades in operation) of the latest rival Greek American daily newspaper, Proini (and its English-language weekly, the Greek American), founded by Fannie Petallides-Holliday, passed onto the Herald new responsibilities in this new age.

Those who had spoken of the death of the Greek American press, warning of the disappearance of the Greek language and the advent of local Greek television and radio programming, were simply proved wrong, however. Other Greek American newspapers were also in operation: the Hellenic Chronicle in New England (now the Hellenic Voice), the Hellenic Times in New York, the Hellenic News in Philadelphia, the Greek Star in Chicago, the Hellenic Journal in California, the bi-lingual Greek American News and, of course, the Orthodox Observer. All make efforts to inform the community in one way or another, though none of them have quite match the Herald*#8217;s breadth and depth.

The National Herald is now stronger than it ever was, looking forward to an even better future with enthusiasm and optimism. The Greek American community had stood strong during the crushing fall of the ethnic minority press in America.

In 1986, the attempt of Apogevmatini, Eleftherotypia and Ethnos, three major Athenian dailies to arrive electronically in New York, be printed in New York and be sold at newsstands in the area failed rather miserably. Their attempt to include Tachidromos, an insert printed locally, didn*#8217;t help much either. Recently, Ethnos Publisher Giorgos Bobolas *#8211; through his company, Pegasus, attempted to buy the flailing Proini in 2000 *#8211; also met with resistance. Mr. Bobolas soon made the fateful decision of closing Proini*#8217;s doors.

The above is not series of accidents. The National Herald has used the old-fashioned system of bringing the following day*#8217;s issue to New York newsstands every afternoon, and getting the paper in the mail the day before, makes the best possible use of the time difference between Greece and the U.S., which is to both its advantage and to the advantage of its readership.

These and other measures have brought the motherland closer to the Herald, and the Herald closer to the motherland, securing its appeal on both sides of the Atlantic. This appeal has led to the Herald*#8217;s New York offices being visited by all Greek leaders in the span of seven decades: Themistocles Sofoulis came in 1947; Constantinos Zladaris and Sophocles Venizelos in 1949; Georgios Mavros and Nikos Papapolitis in 1951; George Papandreou in 1953; George Rallis in 1968; Archbishop Makarios in 1974, Demetris Papaspyrou in 1976; and Constantine Mitsotakis in 1992.

Thus, National Herald*#8217;s 90th Anniversary is an opportunity for reflection on the progress the Hellenic community has made in America. The Herald*#8217;s progress offers a measure of Hellenism*#8217;s progress in the Great American Democracy. A quick look at the Herald*#8217;s recent 50 Wealthiest Greeks in America list gives one an idea of what that progress has been like. Another look at Dinos Siotis*#8217; Directory of the Hellenic American Academic Community also sheds light on the community*#8217;s intellectual ascent. And names like Agnew, Dukakis, Sarbanes, Brademas and Snowe are a sample of the community*#8217;s political success.

Perhaps the National Herald deserves a place in the Greeks community*#8217;s list of achievements in America in that, through its strength, competitiveness and influence, it has helped propel the community forward by keeping it informed.