During the first decades of the 20th century, the economic review Viomichaniki Epitheorisis (V.E.) became one of the most influential publications in Greece. The review was the culmination of Spyros Vovolinis life work, created to fill a gap in the field of Greek economic journalism and social commentary. At the age of only 24, with knowledge and experience in journalism, S. Vovolinis proceeded to publish the magazine with ambition and vision; the objectives were aptly presented in the main article of the first issue, “Our goal” (July 1934).
From the very first issues, V.E. secured the cooperation of distinguished journalists and scientists, as well as prominent personalities of the business world (such as N. Kanellopoulos, A. Chatzikyriakos, N. I. Dedes, president of the SEB, etc.) and the political world (e.g. L. Kanakaris-Roufos, I. Pesmazoglou, St. Kostopoulos, etc.), responding to the demand of the time for more extensive information on international economic developments. V.E. also had contributors who enriched its articles with news and analyses on foreign issues (e.g. industrial policy and production of other countries, international exhibitions, technological achievements, etc.)
The review also included the minutes from general assemblies of collective bodies (e.g. SEB), banking institutions (e.g. reports of the governors of the Bank of Greece, the National Bank of Greece, etc.), and conclusions of the Supreme Economic Council. These assemblies were recorded and transcribed in order to provide the V.E. readership with accurate and objective information. Apart from interesting data-driven articles, there were regular ‘opinion columns’. ‘Notes’ was a column where the editorial staff reflected on current issues of industry, economy, society and government policy – proposing at times taunting but always intellectual solutions to these issues.
V.E. quickly established its position in the industrial and wider financial world thanks to the general quality of its content. The increasing number of advertisements in the publication – which provided the publisher with substantial income – was evidence of the magazine’s growing prestige within the Greek public.
The difficult years
During the turbulent years of the Second World War and the Occupation, the regular publication of V.E. continued, despite all adversities. For a short period of time, the editor’s colleague and friend Lazaros Peniatoglou (a chemist and journalist) oversaw its publication, after S. Vovolinis was drafted and wounded on the Albanian front. During the occupation period, L. Peniatoglou, together with Konstantinos Ad. Vovolinis (brother of Spyros Vovolinis) and Ioannis Milios published the underground newspaper Ellinikon Aima (1942). S. Vovolinis was also a partner in this project, alongside the ‘shrinking’ V.E. The issues were sparse, but contained compelling material on war rationing, the problems and potentials of Greek industry, the shaping of workers’ wages, social security and studies on the post-war reconstruction of the country, the road network, and the energy problems faced by Greece and its citizens.
The second phase of the development of V.E. coincided with the efforts to reconstruct and modernize post-war Greece. The density of the review increased, its typographical appearance improved, the circle of contributors expanded (with journalist Stavros Kanonidis, who wrote for the V.E. from its first steps until 1964, leading the way), and its contents diversified. Supporting the steps towards the industrialization of the country, the V.E. emphasized the systematic presentation and analysis of industrial and technological issues, both domestic and international. The presentation of scientifically based proposals and solutions to the country’s economic and technical problems was what made it so innovative for its time (e.g. the Rio-Antirio link, energy saving, organization of public institutions, etc.). In addition, it extended its interest to other sectors of the economy, analysing the manufacturing industry (such as shipping, tourism, agriculture) as well as interpreting changes in scientific, cultural and social issues. This is evidenced by the particularly impressive special column containing detailed book reviews under the title ‘Scientific Review’ in 1948, and a few years later was changed to ‘Book Review’.
From the mid-1950s V.E. abandoned the simple cover with its abstract imaging referring to industrial issues. Constantly focused on the promotion of Greek industry, it proceeded to diligently study industrial units, not only old and powerful ones, but also budding ones. Already in 1935, the cover of the V.E. contained the statement that an affiliate of the magazine was visiting factories with the aim “on the one hand, to collect the data necessary for the compilation of our review for the publication of the descriptions of Greek factories and, on the other hand, to ensure close cooperation with the entire industries world”.
Among the important articles of that period, a text by writer M. Karagatsis entitled ‘The attitude of the State towards industry and the social contribution of Greek industrialists’ (1953) stands out. This text marked the beginning of the publication of the views of industrialists, journalists, and writers in the context of a ‘constructive debate’ through the magazine over the future of Greek industry. In 1957, S. Vovolinis and V.E were awarded Commendation on part of the Athens Academy in 1957 ‘in recognition of the 25-year career and for the contribution to the research of Greek economic issues and to the general development of the Greek economy’.
True to its original declaration that “it will examine all current industrial issues” and that “judgments, suggestions and proposed actions… will assist the guiding general industrial progress of the country”, V.E. undertook the editing and the publication of the proceedings of the Congresses of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Greece, from 1955 to 1964 (the first congress to the fifth, on the basis of the regulations issued in 1952). The idea of a comprehensive publication of the conclusions of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry had been an objective of S. Vovolinis since 1936. At that time he had published an extra commemorative issue covering the General Conference of Chambers of Commerce (which had taken place in Patras in June 1936). Also, V.E. publications included reprints of studies and research that had been published in the journal (e.g. ‘The Foundation for the Printing of Bank of Greece Banknotes’, research by the V.E. editor-in-chief, Fotis P. Konstantinidis, in 1954).
A further major publishing project of V.E. was the Great Greek Biographical Dictionary (1958-1962). K. Vovolinis, with a group of contributors, highlighted pioneering industrialists and entrepreneurs who were instrumental to the evolution of the Greek economic sector. S. Vovolinis enthusiastically supported this bold attempt to record the economic history of Greece (after all, S. Vovolinis’ interest in history had already manifested itself from the first steps of the V.E.). The Great Greek Biographical Dictionary, for which the Vovolinis brothers were awarded the Athens Academy Prize in 1964, did not depart from the initial aspirations of the V.E. publisher, who believed – as did his brother Konstantinos – that ‘from the sum of the earlier works, living reality, that is, history in progress, is composed’. However, the Great Greek Biographical Dictionary was not considered a publishing success as economic history did not appeal to a wide readership at the time. As interest is growing nowadays, the Great Greek Biographical Dictionary serves as a unique source of historical information, since the detailed biographies are composed of rare documents and data.
A new breath of life
In the 1960s V.E. was modernised and further developed, with a staff of competent contributors, both older (such as Panagiotis Katiforis, Potis Tsibidaros, chemist Ioannis Kandilis, Klearchos Mimikos, etc.) and younger (such as Katerina Daskalaki, Dimitris Karamanos). Although younger, Karamanos, who worked under S. Vovolinis and was his close friend, took over the editorial direction of V.E. He brought with him a newfound youth to the review, evident from its new elegant covers. The covers in early days were simple, but later illustrations were striking and advanced for the financial press, and complimented the inventiveness in the structure of the material. Its content was also upgraded with new columns like one entitled ‘Άδολα και Ανόθευτα’ that was introduced in 1965, which utilized wit to comment on Greek and foreign affairs.
During the following decade the V.E. continued its successful course – but the sudden death of S. Vovolinis’ brother Konstantinos in 1970 was a detrimental blow to the creator. During this period, particular emphasis was placed on fact-based information on international economic issues. Thus, in 1976, the exclusive cooperation with The Economist (to date) was secured as a continuation of the first bold step (albeit smaller in scope) in the same direction taken in the previous decade after partnering with The Financial Times. At the same time, by broadening its content (e.g. the new column on the stock market from 1978), V.E. further consolidated its unique position in the financial press with the richness and validity of its steadily updated material.
The proliferation of advertisements reflected the strength of V.E. and its readership growth. From its very first steps V.E. had established a special column, “Those who passed away”. This provided rich biographical data on deceased personalities of the Greek economy and business society. However, during the 1980s, the obituaries took a special form, covering extensively the business activities of those biographed, and constituting an invaluable source of data for Greek economic history in general. Some notable figures from these tributes are Evangelos A. Papastratos, Dimitris T. Angelopoulos, Christoforos A. Katsampas, Alexandros Tsatsos, and Bodossakis-Athanasiadis.
The second generation
As he became older, S. Vovolinis handed over the review in 1990 to his niece, daughter of his brother Konstantinos, Alexandra K. Vovolinis-Laskaridis, who had been writing for V.E. since the 1970s. Under her direction, V.E. was reorganized and remodeled, in line with more modern typography developments; it underwent aesthetic changes as the material focused on Greece’s changing economic climate, all the while maintaining traditional columns. The name of the review was gradually changed, and finally became known as Oikonomiki Epitheorisi in 2004. Whereas previously the review was only available through subscriptions, it has also been sold on newsstands since 1994.
In 1991, a quarterly financial publication in English was launched entitled Industrial Review Special Survey Series, and renamed Business File in 1998. With extensive coverage of sectors of the Greek economy, the idea for this publication was rooted in a radical initiative of V.E. founder S. Vovolinis, adapting the review to the prospect of Greece’s association with the EE, that occurred in 1963, to publish a special insert in English with summaries of articles, studies, reports, and statistical data. He believed that ‘this new contribution to the great cause of national progress and economic development of our country will not be in vain, but will bear the expected fruits’ (December 1962).
In 2003, the bookstore OIKONOMIKH was founded, with a focus on economic endeavors and entrepreneurship, and a year later the online bookstore www.bookstore-oikonomiki.gr was launched. In 2003 Kerkyra Publications launched its cooperation with the publishing house of The Economist and since then have published the popular textbooks in Greek, and in 2005 launched a cooperation with Pearson Education, publishing a selection of their books in Greek as well.
The birth of Economia
In 2006, Kerkyra Publications took another big step with the creation of Economia, a modern media network covering the following sectors: Business media, publishing, bookstores, and Business Tank. Created to provide systematic and thorough information on the economy, entrepreneurship, and politics within and outside the Greek borders, Economia’s primary task was to observe economic trends and social changes. The development of the Economia network as an evolution of Kerkyra Publications provided a new business model offering comprehensive information on Greek and international economic, business, and political matters. Based on the trends of globalization of information and the lack of internationally oriented media in our country, the Economia network was founded to be a pioneer for the analysis of Greek and international information. The Economia network is focused on the analysis and synthesis of opinions, and creating dialogue around the promotion of new ideas for the development of economies at a regional and international level.
The Economia network strives for objectivity, validity, insightful perception, awareness of current issues and two-way communication with its public, with a mission to strengthen economic and political freedom in the world. The new business model of the Economia network utilizes modern information products and services, such as magazines (Oikonomiki Epitheorisi, Business File-Greek Special Survey Series), newsletters (Business File Newsletter-Greece & Southeast Europe), publications (Economia Publishing), bookstores (Economia Bookstore), events (Economia Business Tank) and the Internet (www.economia.gr).
All of the network’s informative media are developed following a unified identity, one focused on compelling journalism that highlights Greece’s own socio-economic news while reacting to international economic events, stories, and technological progress. Furthermore, since 2000, the Business File Newsletter: Greece & Southeast Europe, has been published in English and Greek, providing exclusive information on economic developments in Greece, Southeastern Europe, and Turkey.
In a parallel track
Since the mid-1990s, Oikonomiki Epitheorisis has expanded its activities beyond its core publishing material. On its 60th anniversary, it launched the Panhellenic Student Competition, having started in 1994 and gradually becoming a formal event, to bridge communication between students and businesses. Since 1994, hundreds of students have taken part and been awarded prizes for their work on topics such as “Greek Business and the Economic and Monetary Union of Europe”, “Means of Transactions in the 21st Century”, and “Business and Tradition”. The Oikonomiki Epitheorisis has also organized conference events in Athens, Thessaloniki, Larissa and elsewhere; it has also participated in exhibitions and workshops.