Diana Lungu: “The lessons learned at the SAJ helped us be good in our job”
Words have always been her best friends, while books and writing were her best therapy in any situation and even a lifestyle. At school she liked writing essays, literary revues and reading more than she had to for classes. She began flirting with media since she was in lyceum, publishing articles in the local newspaper "Gazeta de Vest" in Nisporeni. Of course, years later she smiles at those articles which, in her opinion, were way too far from a journalistic material. However, she says that at that time she did not know the rules of journalism, so she wrote as she felt... We are talking about Diana Lungu, SAJ graduate of 2007-2008, communications coordinator of the Association of Independent Press (AIP).
Knowledge in sociology helped me a lot in journalism
“I wanted to study journalism, but I happened to do sociology in Iasi... However, I did not give up my dream, so I didn’t think twice when I heard about admission at the SAJ. I still remember the admission test. I had zero knowledge in journalism, but my knowledge of sociology served me well, especially the notions of objective and subjective and about sources, which, in my opinion, should appear in a journalistic material. The SAJ meant a lot to me. There I learned to write structured texts, to take into account all opinions and to make friendships that last. It was the best year of my life. Everything was new and I absorbed information like a sponge.”
I had the best journalists and media experts as mentors
“Everything I know about journalism is thanks to the School and to the trainers I had. They were the best; they came from the best media outlets in the country, they got to know each of us personally and gave us the chance to get a job at the outlets they represented. Thus I did my internship at PRO TV channel and realized that... television is not my scene. Everything was happening too fast there, while I like having long talks with sources and making reports. That's why I chose print media. I started working as a reporter in “Ziarul de Garda” newspaper, then I worked with the Association of Independent Press, then I moved to online portals, and eventually got into the other camp, among communicators. For over five years I have been doing communication. My experience as a journalist served me well, because I understand reporters' needs. I know how important it is to timely provide them with the requested information or to send them to other institutions or sources that could help in case we don’t cover the segment that is of interest to them.”
The School of Advanced Journalism is a real practical laboratory
“At the SAJ you don’t learn theory from books, but you do real practice, just like at an editorial office. Trainers take our works seriously – they analyze, criticize, cut them, where necessary, and, of course, give constructive advice and recommendations. But the most important and most beautiful was the team. My classmates at the School were the best. We discussed topics, helped each other when we had writer’s block. It happened a lot. I remember my first written report for Alina Radu’s course. I was excited and changed phrases a hundred times. It took me a day to write a page. Teachers treated us as equals, even if they were older and had a greater life experience. And it helped us to feel comfortable, ask questions, discover answers and not be afraid to make mistakes...
At the SAJ I learned about fairness, neutrality, objectivity, punctuality, tolerance, and I learned that you must always observe the presumption of innocence and not label people. I sharpened my sense of curiosity and my observation skills, but, above all, I learned to always ask myself questions, to be skeptical until I check the answer, to anticipate reactions and to discover people or places that at first seem trivial, without a story behind.”
I still remember lessons from the SAJ
“Although nine years have passed since I finished the SAJ, I still remember some moments as vividly as if they’ve just happened – stand-ups for the course of TV (for one of the reports I had to climb into a sewage well to show how deep and dangerous it was); street noises that I recorded for a radio report (I did not even suspect until then how many sounds there are in the central market!); a trip to Floreni with the whole team, where we talked with locals and wrote articles for the School newspaper; how I sat on the first bus leaving from the Central Bus Station and talked with people there, and an old man gave me a recipe for red-beet soup; advice by Mr. Vasile Botnaru – to choose another profession if we dream of fixed working hours and fixed lunch breaks, and that every second matters, especially on the radio, especially when you are on air; the red line drawn by Alina Radu on paper and how important it was to follow it if you want to keep the readers’ attention; deontology rules explained by Petru Macovei and the fact that a reporter who accepts gifts cannot be an honest reporter; Artur Corghencea’s question: what’s the news?!; advice by Mr. Pojoga on how to write a legend and make good photos; lesson learned from Liliana Vitu that news beginning with “yesterday” is no longer news and that a headline longer than seven words is good for the “delete” button; fieldwork, in any weather. This list of good advice and lessons learned that helped us get where we are and be good in the job that we chose, whether we remained in journalism or chose communication or something else, can continue. The proof is in the many good journalists who grew at the SAJ.
So I recommend the SAJ with great fondness and trust, and I call upon those who pass its threshold to get the most out of the trainers – they might become real mentors and even your friends whom you can appeal to in difficult situations.”