I worked with the newspapers «TO VIMA» (Free reportage) (1984) and «TA NEA» (Free reportage – Interviews, in charge of the column «Ta Athinaika Nea (Athenian News)») (1985).

When I went to VIMA I was just 23 years old. It was literally a temple to journalism. Priests, the dear departed Deligiannis and of course Psycharis who everyone dreaded! ‘If you don’t intend to go out reporting on the streets, you’re better off at home’, he used to tell me. He was right even though his macho style terrified me.

Giannis Pretenderis, talented even then, stood out with his poise and incomparable pen. They put me in international affairs as assistant-trainee but the severity of the surroundings caused me such stress that I left with colitis four months later.

I started work at NEA up on the 5th floor at Christou Lada Street, where my boss was the late Lykourgos Kominis.

At ΝΕΑ I became a journalist even though I stayed only 9 months, the length of a pregnancy. I was delighted there to have not just one, but lots of teachers, first and foremost Lefteres Papadopoulos, who took me by the hand through the streets of Athens (Part B). Part One I had done with Elena Akrita. And where we didn’t go with Lefteres! Moschato, Drapetsona, Nea Ionia, we roamed all the «working-class neighbourhoods where each time he used his magic wand to turn reporting into a party. One example: Vamvakaris’ son was waiting for us in Moschato and after noting down all the problems in the area, we ate, drank and of course sang. An UNFORGETTABLE start to a career. Later when I became well-known as a television reporter, Lefteres wrote a song for me in which he confessed that «Irene would come in wearing leather trousers and I used to think: Is that the girl who wants to be a reporter? But she managed it and even interviewed so-and-so…. etc». I adore you Lefteres and thank you.

On the same floor, the then charmer Giannis Dimaras, we couldn’t keep up with picking starry-eyed girls from the floor, and the «twin brothers» Kostas Hardavelas and Giorgos Lianis, accomplished «Reporters» at that time with a programme that rocked. The first two baptized me into television on ERT 2 which makes them my godfathers.

At Lambrakis Press you became a journalist, not just a babushka with blonde hair. I went on to the 5th floor of the Sunday Nea: Spyros Ornerakis, the Thanasis Vengos of cartoons for me, from the point of view of kindness, respectability and compassion. At his side Makis Triantafyllopoulos, a harmless guy then, with dreams and ambition to become a good cartoonist. Also there were other knowledgeable and prestigious journalists, Kostas and Vassilis Kavathas, Maria Thermou. Elli Stai and Liana Kanelli stopped by to carry out important interviews. Roula Mitropoulou, the then iron lady from the magazine Tachydromos.  Taking his first steps, Dimitris Panoulis, today the top society and arts photographer, an upright man who not only wasn’t changed a bit by success, but he wasn’t even touched by it. He used to bring me photos for my column «Ta Athinaika Nea» (see clippings). I remember reporting for the first time a fresh piece of Athens news, ‘Fresh’ confectionary from Stelios Parliaros, who was clearly destined to be famous from an early age. We became friends and he made me a superb cake decorated with roses for my wedding.

At ΝΕΑ, I maintain that I became a journalist as just living next to important reporters I learned reporting, agenda, journalistic research, to stand out, to classify news.

At ΝΕΑ I went out into the community, I came into contact let’s say with NGOs such as PEPROZO (Hellenic Association for Contribution of Life) concerned with human organ donation. Since then I have poked my nose into all kinds of reporting. Lambrakis Press was a SCHOOL, a University.

I will never forget the father of Greek journalism, Leontas Karapanagiotis, who had no «other» ambitions like a lot of Romeos at that time, (note: women had just begun their mass invasion of this male-dominated profession) and I was touched to find notes in my desk drawer with clippings from foreign newspapers: «Irene my dear, these might be useful for ideas for stories». It was then that I did an exclusive interview with Andreas Papandreou’s friend, Prime Minister of Sweden and an important European figure, Oulof Palme, just one year before his assassination. Interviews followed with Raul Alfonsin, President of Argentina, and others (see clippings).

Why did I leave NEA so quickly?... cherchez l’ homme, all is forgiven…

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