• Longform Articles: Learning to “Tell Stories” in Details about People or Events

    Report, feature, obituary and press documentary are some of the new journalistic genres successfully learned by the School of Advanced Journalism students at the course dedicated to longform articles. The course lasted five days and it was held by Alina Radu, director of “Ziarul de Gardă” newspaper. Young people tested their observation skills, attended an event, made a detailed character sketch and learned writing obituaries.

    The course began with a general presentation of the journalistic genres that fall under the category of longform articles. Students found out about different types of reports, learned the principles and structure of such materials, and the trainer drew their attention to the fact that the most important – and mandatory – element of a report is the journalist’s presence on the scene of events. Alina Radu also mentioned that, unlike news stories, reports allow the journalist to use various literary techniques to describe the atmosphere clearly and with plenty of details. “Readers should see, hear and feel,” she said. Then, the practical part of the course followed, and students had to make a report, a character sketch and an obituary.

    How are ideas for reports “born”? Where can we find topics? How can we write in a different, interesting and captivating manner? To help students find answers to these questions, Alina Radu invited two journalists specialized in writing reports and character sketches to a meeting with students. The guests were Polina Cupcea, one of the founders of the “People and Kilometers” web portal, and Dorin Galben, a presenter for 10 TV station. They had both successfully studied at the School of Advanced Journalism, and now they shared with students interesting details from their professional experience, discussed about the way an idea turns into the topic of a report and noted the importance of observation and of details.

    Polina Cupcea, who specializes in longreads – articles written in the storytelling technique, – mentioned that a report or a character sketch should be written in a simple language, but attractive to the public. “The topic should be as exotic and picturesque as possible, and also different from what others have written. Get away from the ordinary, go to villages, talk to simple people. They are the most important source of ideas for your stories,” the journalist said.

    The next course for SAJ students is Media Law.

  • Magazine Journalism, the Course Where Students Make an Actual Publication

    What is the specificity of magazine journalism? What is the difference between a magazine and a newspaper? How can one catch the attention of today’s readers and what are the key elements that make a periodical attractive? These are some of the questions the SAJ students found answers to at the course of Magazine Journalism. Ludmila Andronic, expert in communication, was the one who familiarized them with the world of magazines.

    This is the second year when this course is held at the School of Advanced Journalism. Therefore, the second class of students got the opportunity to learn some of the most interesting secrets that hide behind the cover of a modern magazine, whether it is focused on social life, business or culture. During the three days of the course, students spoke with Ludmila Andronic about the concept and specificity of a magazine, learned why it is important to balance content, sections and images and what elements make such a media product attractive. According to the trainer, “a successful magazine must be thought of as a business.”

    The culminating moment of the course was, as it usually happens at the SAJ, practical exercise. This time students had to create their own magazine, from concept to layout and printing. It was the first time when they felt the way an editorial office works. They formed a team of reporters, delegated an editor-in-chief and started planning. After a week of writing and gathering materials, when the magazine was printed, they admitted that it was not easy at all. Nevertheless, they did quite well.

    Student Elmira Orozova, who was the editor-in-chief, says that the magazine, which they named L’ART DE VIVRE, represented the work of the entire team. “The effort is visible in what we managed to create. It was quite hard, but very interesting and exciting at the same time,” the young journalist concluded.

    At the end of the course, Ludmila Andronic congratulated students for the final product and encouraged them to continue what they started this autumn at the School of Advanced Journalism. “Don’t give up your dreams. The first step is always hard. But never be afraid of failure,” the trainer added.

  • Ethics and Diversity in the Media: We Are Learning to Be Responsible Journalists

    A professional journalist knows how to separate opinions from facts, respect the balance of sources, avoid stereotypes and discrimination, demonstrate tolerance and critical thinking and, last but not least, abide by the Journalist’s Code of Conduct. These are just some of the fundamental principles learned by the SAJ students at the course of Ethics and Diversity in the Media. Nadine Gogu, executive director of the Independent Journalism Center (IJC), was the one who worked with the students.

    The course lasted five days, during which the students approached various topics directly related to the basic principles of ethics and deontology. Together with the trainer, students discussed about the confidentiality of sources, about how to protect people in vulnerable situations in news reports and articles, and about how to avoid explicit obscene language and morbid images.

    The students also discussed issues such as privacy vs. public interest, manipulation, (in)tolerance and (non-)discrimination. The young people took note of the elements of false news and of how they can be traced.

    Another topic addressed at the course was coverage of diversity in the media. For a better understanding of this phenomenon, Nadine Gogu invited Angelica Frolov, Lobby and Advocacy Program Coordinator of the GENDERDOC-M Center, to come and meet the students. The guest spoke to young people about the rights of LGBT people and how one can avoid discriminatory terminology in the media. “The society must be educated and properly informed. We need a critical mass of people. Here, journalists must intervene. When we understand that diversity is natural, things will change,” Angelica Frolov said.

    At the end of the course, Nadine Gogu recommended to the students to do their job honestly, fairly, and to constantly keep ethical principles in mind. “Be honest with yourself, your readers, listeners and viewers. Weigh every decision you make and take responsibility,” the trainer added.

    The next course starting at the School of Advanced Journalism is Radio Journalism.

  • Radio Journalism: Learning to Spread Messages by Radio Waves

    What is the specificity of radio journalism? What distinguishes a text written for a newspaper or online publication from a text written for the radio? Why is information ephemeral, and how can we attract the attention of radio listeners? The SAJ students found answers to these questions at the course of Radio Journalism. For three weeks, Liliana Nicolae, reporter and editor at Europa FM in Bucharest, along withTamara Grejdeanu, Liliana Barbarosie, and Diana Railean, Radio Free Europe journalists, were working together with the students.

    Radio journalism is one of the most complex courses at the SAJ. To offer the students as much useful information as possible, it was divided into four modules. The first one – Technical Skills – was intended to introduce the students to the secrets of radio sound. Together with Tamara Grejdeanu, the young journalists learned to work with digital editing software and mastered the entire process – from sound recording to broadcasting.

    The second module was focused on the rules for writing a text for the radio and on the content of radio materials. Under the guidance of Liliana Barbarosie, participants prepared several materials: sound pictures, an interview, and a news report. The trainer insisted that the choice of words you use on the radio is very important and recommended students to write as simple and understandable as possible. “On the radio, information is ephemeral. A reporter or a radio presenter has only one chance,” the journalist added.

    Students discussed the features of radio report and radio package within the third module. Guided by Liliana Nicolae, they tried pre-documentation and field work, and produced their own journalistic materials. At the end of the four days of the course, the trainer encouraged students to be the most curious, informed, creative and original possible in the profession they chose.“You cannot be a journalist if you stay in the office,” Liliana Nicolae concluded.

    The last module, Radio Newsroom, was the most complicated and, at the same time, the most interesting one. It lasted four days, during which the students teamed up to create two radio shows and a newscast. The young people worked at the pace of a real editorial office and learned that the final result depends on each member’s involvement. Trainer Diana Railean was pleased with the result and suggested that the students aim at a successful career in journalism. “Do not stop here. Read every day. Document yourself and always stay informed!”

    Today, the School of Advanced Journalism starts the course of TV Journalism.

  • Interview: Learning to Ask Questions and Listen to the Interlocutor

    How to interview shy people and how to get answers from people who, despite having something to say, do not have the habit of speaking? The “ingredients” of a successful interview and how they can be used were the things the SAJ students learned from Mihaela Gherasim, reporter of TV project “Pur și Simplu” [“Simply”], produced by Radio Free Europe. From her, for five days future journalists learned to ask interesting questions, sometimes even uncomfortable, to choose the topic and the character relevant for an interview.

    The course began with several general notions relating to interview as a journalistic genre. Students understood that acquiring information is the main element underlying an interview, learned to formulate questions correctly, discussed about planning and documentation, which come before any dialogue, and discovered several ways to interview an interlocutor. Then, the most interesting part of the course followed – practical work. Guided by the trainer, students did several works: they interviewed one of their parents about themselves, transformed a press statement into an interview, worked on documenting a personality and, finally, wrote their own interview.

    In the end, during discussions that turned into debates, the ethical and deontological aspects of the interview were addressed. Mihaela Gherasim spoke to SAJ students about how a journalist should appear at an interview, how he or she should behave and what questions should better be avoided. “If a journalist can learn from his own mistakes, he is very likely to make a successful career in journalism and make a name for himself,” the trainer said.

    According to students, the practical part of the course was useful and very necessary for them. Some of them had for the first time the experience of a face-to-face interview with an interlocutor. Student Andrei Cebotari admitted that he thus developed his non-verbal communication skills. “I really enjoyed this experience, and I will definitely use it in my work,” he said.

  • Adriana Vlas: “I’m proud of my first job and I like what I’m doing”

    She was fascinated by history, politics and economy, so right from her childhood she was dreaming of a successful career in these areas. She knew she needed quality education to be the best in her profession, and she chose to study abroad. In 2013 she entered the University of Exeter in the UK, where she studied for three years economy, politics, and other sciences.

    The real challenge, however, was still ahead, since, to everyone’s surprise, our heroine returned home, to Moldova, to fulfill another passion – journalism. A passion that, like with our other graduates, goes back to school years. There, at the lessons of the Romanian language and literature, she discovered she had appetite for writing. Together with analytical skills, it was promising a successful journalistic story in the future.

    The fairy tale became true thanks to the School of Advanced Journalism, about which Adriana Vlas, a graduate of the 11th SAJ class, learned in her last month at university, when she was getting ready for final exams, diving into financial markets and Marx’s theory... Today she perseveres day by day and keeps learning to become a successful journalist, already as a reporter of the Unimedia.info news portal.

    I decided to do journalism at home

    “I studied economy and politics at the University of Exeter in the UK, at a faculty with rich traditions that always stimulated and taught me to think critically. However, I always wanted to do journalism. I was not scared to return home, although, frankly, many were surprised at my decision.

    I still remember that for the first stage of admission to the School of Advanced Journalism I had to present an essay on a free-choice topic. I decided to “list” on a page my impressions after reading the book “Capitalism and Freedom” by Milton Friedman. I wrote a very awkward essay. Only during my studies did I understand that to reach a reader, you need to formulate your thoughts as simply and clear as possible. This is what I learned in the first practical course, “News,” when I had to formulate my thoughts so that any person could understand them: from a university professor to a village grandma.”

    Being a journalist means learning every day

    “To me, journalism is a fascinating and exciting profession, but also responsible and stimulating. I like to be in the center of events, collect information, write and transmit to my reader true, correct, unbiased and balanced news. The various theoretical and practical knowledge that I have accumulated over the years of study, as well as practice in the art of analysis, allow me to hope that I can contribute to journalism in our country.

    The School of Advanced Journalism has played an extremely important role, both in professional and personal development. That’s where I learned what it means to be a universal journalist – a journalist who does not just write news, interviews or reports, but who can edit a radio report, lay out a newspaper page, or edit a TV report.”

    SAJ offers more than just journalism studies

    “The School of Advanced Journalism helps you to look at things differently. You are no longer an ordinary reader, listener or viewer, you are a person who by nature of his/her work must process all information, monitor and analyze the entire chain of events. Before I entered the School, I did not use to spend too much time on news, but then at SAJ I realized that a good reporter must receive information daily from at least two sources. At the School we also learned to be critical, to question everything and to always look for the truth.

    For six months now I have been a part of the strongest team of reporters – the Unimedia.info portal. So I’m still learning my profession from my colleagues, whom I really appreciate. I’m proud of my first job, and I like what I’m doing.”

  • Media Law, a Course that Makes Journalists More Responsible

    Does a reporter have the right to photograph people in the street or in public places? But in private places? How and under what conditions can journalists protect their sources? What can journalists do when their access to information is restricted? What is value judgment and what do journalists risk when they spread false information and thus damage a person's dignity and honor? These are only a few of the questions addressed by the SAJ students at the Media Law course. The one who taught them about rights and obligations was the lawyer Tatiana Puiu, project coordinator of Freedom House, USA.

    During the five days of the course, future journalists studied articles and laws that target the media directly. They have learned about the basic provisions on access to information, state secret, defamation, offence, censorship. They also discussed about the way broadcast licenses are issued, about the duties of the Broadcasting Coordinating Council (BCC) and about journalists’ obligations. In this regard, Tatiana Puiu drew attention to the sanctions that a reporter risks to get for slander, violation of the rules on using personal data, use of video (photo) or voice of a person taken in a private space without their consent.

    During the course, students also had some guests – media experts. With Ion Creanga, head of the General Legal Directorate of Moldova’s Parliament Secretariat, they discussed the process of adopting a law; from the journalist Dumitru Lazur, coordinator of the project “Promoting Media Freedom and Pluralism in Moldova,” they learned what media projects are implemented by the Council of Europe in our country. Anastasia Nani, editor at Anticoruptie.md , who is also a graduate of the School of Advanced Journalism, talked about the correct use of open government data. And from Olga Gututui, a member of the BCC, they learned when Moldova will switch to digital television and how broadcasters are sanctioned for violating the Broadcasting Code.

    How do we address human rights issues properly and what is the role of the media in promoting them? This topic was discussed with two other guests: Olesea Perean, program director at the UN Office for Human Rights, and Ludmila Bogheanu, communications consultant at the same organization. The problem of torture in Moldova and, in particular, the case of Andrei Braguta, caused intense discussions among SAJ students. Future journalists have learned that delivering true information to society is more important than constantly seeking sensations.

    Do we have the right to download movies, music or photos from the internet? Do we have the right to reproduce or plagiarize texts, and how do we protect our creations? More details about copyright SAJ students learned from lawyer Ion Tiganas, former deputy head of the Intellectual Property Agency.

    The next course on the students’ schedule is Magazine Journalism.


Success stories

“I’m proud of my first job and I like what I’m doing”
“I Will Become a Detective, Anyway, Only in Journalism”
“I could write a story about the SAJ teachers...”