Respected Greek journalist and International Press Institute (IPI) member Costas Efimeros, who founded the independent investigative news site ThePressProject at the start of the Greek debt crisis, died of cardiac arrest on Tuesday, June 13 in Athens at the age of 42. He had a history of heart problems and previously suffered a heart attack in 2008.
Efimeros’ death was confirmed on social media by his wife Graneta Karatza, who wrote:“My Costas left me two hours ago. We were as happy and in love as ever.”
IPI will remember Efimeros as an outstanding journalist who became a true advocate of freedom of the media and free expression in his native Greece, as well as a tireless defender of the freedom of his fellow journalists around the world. Last fall, Efimeros was among the first IPI members to join the global campaign for the release of IPI Board Member Kadri Gürsel and other journalists imprisoned in Turkey.
Born as Costas Papadopoulos in Athens in 1975, Efimeros adopted a new surname, which means “ephemeral” in Greek, and began his career as a graphic designer and programmer for several Greek newspapers and magazines.
In 2000, he founded the IT company BitesnBytes, which became a successful producer of applications and websites. Using his technological background and experience, he founded ThePressProject in 2010 at the beginning of the Greek debt crisis. The website started out as a news aggregator, but quickly introduced original reporting as the Greek crisis escalated.
In June 2013, after the decision by the government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to close the state-owned Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) with immediate effect as part of a cost-cutting drive demanded by Greece’s international creditors, it was Efimeros who helped ERT journalists mount a show of defiance, providing the necessary equipment to allow broadcasting to continue for another 15 days.
As editor-in-chief and a member of its investigative reporting team, Efimeros built ThePressProject into a leading source of independent news in Greece, using crowdfunding and donations to finance the news site and ensure that it remained independent of government or corporate influence.
Efimeros was also a producer, a radio host and a writer for the satirical TV show “Anaskopisi”. In 2011, he produced the documentary film “Debtocracy”, which examined the causes of the Greek debt crisis and advocated default on ‘odious debt.’
In a June 15 editorial, journalists at ThePressProject remembered Efimeros as a man “who wasn’t ephemeral,” but rather “the life, the heart, the mind, and the ideas behind a journalistic organisation that managed to pull off a ‘small wonder’ … in a world of mass media”:“Costas was truly a person who excelled. At great personal cost, he managed to get his ‘firstborn’ to where it is today, with all the recognition it enjoys. He never turned back, even when he’d bit off more than he could chew, because the vision and passion that he shared with all of us for independent journalism consumed him.”