Greek newspapers in Constantinople

1. Periodization of the Greek press in Ottoman Constantinople

The strong presence of newspapers in Greek in Constantinople (Istanbul) during the 19th c. is closely related to the re-establishment of the religious communities in the middle of the 1830’s and the beginning of the Tanzimat reforms (1839). We can divide the newspaper publishing activity in three phases.

1.1. First phase (1835-1857)

The first publishing attempts were made by representatives of the Greek-Orthodox community who were closely related to the Ottoman admninstration. The first newspaper that was published both in Greek and Ottoman was Othomanikos Minytor in 1835 by Ioannis (or Iagos) Mousouros, brother of Konstantinos Mousouros, who was embassador of the Ottoman Empire in Athens at that time. The newspaper was an official publication of the Ottoman state and continued being published until 1841.

Tilegrafos tou Vosporou (1843) was the second important publishing attempt. Its publisher was Konstantinos Adosidis, employee of the Sublime Porte since 1841. At first, it was published three times a month but later it became weekly. In June 1857, after 14 years of publishing, Adosidis gave Tilegrafos tou Vosporou to Dimitrios Ksenis, also was a high ranking government employee, and who merged it with the newspaper he had just created, Vyzantis. So, until 1871, the newspaper was published with the name Tilegrafos tou Vosporou kai Vyzantis under Ksenis’ direction. The newspaper had a good team of translators and published articles from the foreign press, while editors of its main political articles were the lawyers Platon Rotas and Ioannis Georgantopoulos.

The Tilegrafos tou Vosporou and Dimitrios Ksenis represented a peculiar coalition of interests, as Ksenis was favoured both by Aali Pasha, who served many times as Grand Vizier, and by the Russian embassy, the political line of which was going through a transitional period after Russia’s defeat in the Crimean War. Both sides –reformers of the Ottoman state and Russian diplomats– had chosen, each for its own reason, to push the reforms through to the Patriarchate and Vyzantis was at the core of this political line. For this reason, the newspaper’s style was generally mild, without effusions and outbursts "against Russians and Bulgarians, against Albanians and Turks and ministers", as Manouil Gedeon lets us know. Thus the newspaper held a mild stance toward the Bulgarian issue, but the death of its political protector, Aali Pasha (September 1871) had a great impact on its influence. Aali Pasha, as well as Husni Pasha, who was minister of the police at that time, financed the newspaper’s publisher, D.Ksenis. it is not a coincidence that after 1871 (and until 1904) the newspaper’s name changed back to Vyzantis.

1.2. Second phase (1857-1872)

The 1860’s brought a new period of prosperity to the Greek press. This prosperity had to do with the reform inside the Orthodox millet (Rum millet), with the National Assembly of 1858-60 and the voting and ratification of the General Regulations (1862). Newspapers like Anatolikos Astir, Omonoia, Armonia, Neologos, as well as the publication of the Karamanli newspaper Anatoli in Greek, changed the profile of Greek press.

Publishers of the newspaper Anatolikos Astir (1861-1891) were three professors of the Great School of the Nation (Megali tou Genous Scholi): Ioannis Philalithis, Konstantinos Fotiadis and Vasileios Kallifron. In a very short time, the first two left and Kallifron remained as the only owner of the newspaper. From 1862 to 1864, on the newspaper’s payroll were Stavros Voutyras, who later became publisher of the newspaper Neologos, and Dimitrios Nikolaidis, who later published Konstantinoupolis and who also worked as director of the Anatolikos Astir for some time (1864?). Manouil Gedeon, Nikiforos Kalogeras, Michail Chourmouzis and others also worked for the newspaper.

The aim of the newspaper was to put pressure on Joachim II, who was Ecumenical Patriarch at that time (first patriarchate: 1860-1863), to go on with the implementation of the General Regulations that had just been voted by the National Assembly (1858-1860). The newspaper represented the leading neo-Phanariot families that proposed the reforms, like the families of Stefanos and Konstantinos Karatheodoris, and Pavlos Mousouros (brother of Konstantinos and Ioannis). Until Anatolikos Astir was published, the reforms were supported by the newspaper Tilegrafos tou Vosporou kai Vyzantis, published by Dimitrios Ksenis. But, as mentioned above, Ksenis and his newspaper were influenced by the Russian embassy. This was the reason the pro-Western families of the Greek-Orthodox community, like the ones mentioned, saw the need for a different voice of support to the reforms, untouched by the choices of Russia that had lost the Crimean War. The Mixed Council proposed that Anatolikos Astir should become the official newspaper of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, provoking the reaction of Patriarch Joachim II who in return favored Omonoia, its primary rival . At that time, Anatolikos Astir undertook the full publication of the acts of the Mixed Council, while Omonoia published only the final decisions of the Holy Synod and the Mixed Council.

The publication of Omonoia was Ecumenical Patriarch Joachim II’s political choice. He was a personal friend of Gerasimos, metropolitan of Chalkedon, one of the most eminent prelates of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the mid-19th c., supporter of gerontism and relative of D. Katselidis, Omonoia’s publisher. Joachim’s purpose was to minimize the influence of Tilegrafos tou Vosporou and, even more, Anatolikos Astir, as they both pressured for the implementation of the General Regulations.

In 1867, Omonoia was published together with the newly established Neologos tis Anatolis, by Stavros Voutyras, as Omonoia kai Neologos. At that time, it was common practice for newspapers that were banned by the Sublime Port to continue being published under the name of another newspaper of Constantinople. This is what happened also with Neologos tis Anatolis, which was first published in the middle of the crisis caused by the Cretan Revolt of 1866-69. Its publication was soon to be banned as it published news that had to do with the revolt. But as the newspaper Omonoia kai Neologos went on with that practice, its circulation was also banned and Neologos sought shelter in another newspaper, Melissa. The newspaper was published under the name Omonoiakai Neologos from January 1867 to March 9th of the same year. Since March 10th it was published under the name Neologos.

In 1870, Vlassis Gavriilidis, who had then resigned from the directorship of the newspaper Konstantinoupolis, became director of Neologos. This was the last flash of the newspaper before it finally stopped being published in 1871. During that first glorious period of the newspaper, G.Polychroniadis and the reporter N.Argyriadis (who both resigned in the same period) worked there, while in its second, adventurous, period, Manouil Gedeon and Spyridon Lambros,who worked as a correspondent in Athens, while he was still studying literature, were two of the newspaper’s contributors.

Publisher and editor of the newspaper Armonia (1864-1868) was Michail Chourmouzis (Chourmouzios Triantafyllou). Editor and director of the newspaper (since 1866) was the lawyer Alexandros Axelos. The newspaper was known for its fervent articles against members of all classes of the clergy who misbehaved in their personal or priestly life. The creation of the newspaper in the middle of Sofronios III’s patriarchate (1863-1866) served as a means of pressure against him, as he was a fervent supporter of the implementation of the General Regulations as Metropolitan of Amaseia.

Newspaper Anatoli was being published by Evangelinos Misailidis in Karamanli from 1851 to 1865. In that year it was also published in Greek, with Christoforos Samartzidis as editor. But this publication lasted only until the December of the same year because of the reaction that Samartzidis’ articles against the worship of the sacred icons triggered in the Greek-Orthodox community of Constantinople. Since 1865, it started being published again in Karamanli and, in August 1873, after its name was changed to Mikra Asia, yaniAnatoli,1 it started being published both in Karamanli and in Greek.

During that period, the newspaper was hostile against Anthimos VI, who was Ecumenical Patriarch at that time. When Anthimos was in his third patriarchate (1871-1873), he was responsible to assemble the Local Synod that condemned “ethnophyletism” and the followers of the Bulgarian Exarchate as schismatic (September 1872). But in the following year (1873) he was criticized by political figures of Constantinople and by Misailidis’ Anatoli for poor implementation of the General Regulations. Manouil Gedeon has stated that he was the author of the articles of that period that had to do with the church. Other newspapers of that period, like Konstantinoupolis, Vyzantis and Typos also expressed the same criticism.

In 1874-75, the newspaper was divided again to the edition in Karamanli, under the name Anatoli, and the Greek edition, named Mikra Asia, directed by Manouil Gedeon who took the place of G.Polychroniadis. Gedeon, however, resigned from the directorship and, in the following year, the publication came to a financial deadlock. In 1877, from February 24 to May 3, Anatoli was published again in Karamanli and Greek. The first was a political newspaper, while the second was focused on the matters of the church. But the publication of the Greek edition, which was directed by Gedeon, was banned because of the Russo-Turkish war that started in the same year. The edition in Karamanli continued being published even after Misailidis’ death (January 4 1890), until the end of World War I. After Evangelinos died, the newspaper passed on to Misailidis’ son, Christos.

1.3. Third phase (1872-end of 19th c.)

During this period, the publication of newspapers in Greek was influenced by people who had been involved in the publishing attempts of the 1860’s, either as reporters or as chief editors: Dimitrios Nikolaidis (Konstantinoupolis), Stavros Voutyras (Neologos), Vlassis Gavriilidis (Metarrythmisis). In the case of the first two, the newspapers were first published before 1872. However, the new political situation created by the declaration of schism against the Bulgarian Exarchate and the subsequent position of the publishers toward Patriarch Joachim III set the scenery in which the upcoming publishers formed the political line of their newspapers. The political gamble was their position toward the Russian factor, a problem that even older newspapers, like Vyzantis and Anatolikos Astir had to deal with. Manouil Gedeon’s mention that the rivalry between Stavros Voutyras and Joachim III was triggered by Joachim’s position over Dimitrios Nikolaidis and his newspaper is rather interesting. So, the former contributors of Anatolikos Astir, a newspaper that supported the promotion of the General Regulations to the Patriarchate followed different directions in the following decades; Voutyras’ Neologos represented the ethnocentrics (“Russophobes”), while Nicolaidis’ Konstantinoupolis represented the ecumenistic attempt (“Russophiles”). Neologos had expressed its support to the reforms in the Ottoman state and to the political representation of the populations in the Ottoman province.

In 1865, Dimitrios Nikolaidis, editor of Anatolikos Astir, in cooperation with Stavros Voutyras, took over the publication of Eptalofos, I. M. Raptarchos’ journal. Soon, Voutyras abandoned the project, but Nikolaidis continued publishing it as a small-size daily newspaper and, six months later, as a large-size newspaper, under the name Konstantinoupolis. From times to times, I. M. Raptarchos, G. L. Ksanthopoulos, V. Gavriilidis and M. I. Gedeon contributed as editors. In the crisis of 1872, Konstantinoupolis openly expressed its opposition to the schism. Nikolaidis was relieved of his duties as editor and asked for permission to publish a new newspaper. Constantinoupolis’ name was changed to Thraki (1873-1880) and later to Avgi (1880-1884). After the first phase of the issue of privileges that was the reason Joachim III was forced to end his patriarchate, the newspaper’s name was changed back to Konstantinoupolis and it continued being published under this until 1906. Despite the changes the newspaper went through from times to times, it remained positive toward Joachim III after 1878.

On the other hand, Stavros Voutyras’ Neologos, which took its final form in 1867, committed itself to the representation of the radical nationalists of Constantinople, keeping a strict attitude toward Joachim III. It played a rather important part in the first crisis of the issue of privileges in 1883-84 (Voutyras was the author of the important Memorandum of the Partiarchates in1884), and it contributed to the Patriarch being forced to resign. Because of Voutyras’ provocative articles against the Patriarch, in February 25 1882, a group of Joachim’s supporters attacked the newspaper’s offices and printing office, causing great damages. Voutyras’ articles also contributed to the declaration of the schism against the Bulgarian Exarchate in 1872 and to the more postive attitude of England and France against Greece in the Berlin Conference of 1878.

Voutyras’ work in Constantinople ended in 1897, when the Greek-Turkish war began and he was deported to Greece. He moved to Athens, where he continued publishing Neologos for some time. However, he returned to Constantinople, where he continued being active during the Revolution of the Young Turks and the Balkan Wars, by participating in the committee that sent volunteers to Greece. In the following decade, until 1922, he played an important part in the formation of the Ecumenical Patrairchate’s policy. In 1922, he finally returned to Athens as a refugee.

Another short-lived publishing attempt worth mentioning was Vlassis Gavriilidis’s Metarrythmisis. He published it in 1876, when he resigned from Nikolaidis’ Thraki. It was a daily newspaper, edited by Ioannis Karavasilis. The newspaper was closed down in August 1877, in the middle of the Eastern Crisis, when Gavriilidis left Constantinople (because of the censorship) and settled in Athens.

1. The title means roughly Asia Minor, namely Anatoli. Mikra Asia was -and still is- the standard Greek name of Asia Minor, while Anatoli refers to its Turkish name, i.e. Anadolu. The title thus balances between the Greek and Turkish designations (and ideological representations) of Asia Minor.