• How to Avoid Stigmatization of Drug Users in the Media: A New Discussion Club at the SAJ

    Drug trafficking and arrests of drug dealers are the topics most frequently covered by journalists when it comes to combating drug abuse. However, how does the social stigma of drug users make itself felt and what is the role of the media in covering such situations? This issue was discussed at the SAJ discussion club organized to raise the awareness of future journalists. The event was attended by Corina Popa, program coordinator of the Union for HIV Prevention and Risk Mitigation (UOHR); Elena Cioina, manager of the www.E-Sănătate.md portal; and Denis Hibovschi, representative of the drug users community.

    Discussions started with a general presentation of the Union for HIV Prevention and Risk Mitigation. Corina Popa spoke about the implementation of the anti-drugs strategy in our country. Students also heard from her about the existing programs for prevention of drug use, about the funds that come from the Global Fund and about its recommendations for Moldova.

    How drug users return to normal life and how they rehabilitate themselves was another topic discussed with SAJ students. Denis Hibovschi, former drug user and now father of three children, told young people how he became addicted to drugs, about the psycho-social and rehabilitation services he used, as well as how he learned to live without drugs.

    One of the most important issues discussed was the use of proper terminology by journalists. SAJ students learned what terms and expressions should not be used in their articles and how to phrase their thoughts correctly when they write about drug users.

    Finally, future journalists received some recommendations from the guests. Students were urged to abide by the journalistic code of ethics and, at the same time, to cover the topic of drug use as often as possible. “Be correct with yourselves and with those who you are writing about,” said Elena Cioina, manager of www.E-Sănătate.md, at the end of the meeting.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Liliana Botnariuc: “I Will Become a Detective, Anyway, Only in Journalism”

    She is one of the graduates who were convinced they would never do journalism before they came to the SAJ. As a child, she dreamed of becoming a secret agent or working in a crime laboratory: that desire was inspired by the movies she was watching at that age and by her great passion for chemistry and biology.  Not all dreams, however, come true; after she passed her bachelor degree examinations, she applied to the Faculty of International Relations and Political and Administrative Sciences at Moldova State University.

    She wanted to contribute to changing the situation in the country after her graduation and to help people live prosperously here, in Moldova. But everything changed after she took part in the Challenger II Program… We are speaking of Liliana Botnariuc, a graduate of the class of 2016-2017, currently a reporter at the Ziarul de Garda newspaper. We have invited her for a cup of coffee and asked her what made her become a journalist and what journalists and secret agents have in common...

    My decision to study at the SAJ was no coincidence

    “During one of my volunteer days at Challenger II Program, Vlada Ciobanu, one of the graduates of the School of Advanced Journalism, told us about the SAJ, its courses, trainers and so on. I recall one very important thing she told us at that meeting: ‘At the SAJ, you learn what others are taught during their three-year studies at university.’ I was only in my second year, yet I already knew I would attend that school. During my third year of studies, I wrote my license degree thesis, and the topic I chose was The Role and Place of Mass Media in the Foreign Policy of States in Contemporary Times. I guess it was no coincidence. I have to admit that I greatly enjoyed the documentation process; I adored writing a single paragraph all day long just to make a good paper. At that point, I understood two important things:

    1. the power of the media is unlimited;
    2. I like writing, and I like writing a lot.”

    I was eager to develop my critical thinking and learn to write correctly

    “Immediately after graduating from university, I applied to the School of Advanced Journalism. I did not hesitate for a moment, and I had two reasons to do that: I was eager to develop my critical thinking and learn to write correctly. I’m not sure whether I have learned to write very well, I keep working at this skill, but as to my critical thinking, I have cultivated it. Today, I question every sort of media content, discourse, or information.”

    A bit of theory and a lot of fieldwork

    “All of the courses have been useful, especially due to the fact that they are focused on practical work. A bit of theory and a lot of fieldwork – that’s exactly what a journalist needs. I like the fact that it took me just a few months to learn to use editing programs: Adobe Audition, Adobe Indesign, Adobe Premiere and Adobe Photoshop. The most important thing is that thanks to the SAJ I not only love print media, but I also learned to accept criticism and intend to become a very good and professional journalist.”

    I like discovering people with interesting stories

    “At the moment, I am at the starting point of my career, and I have chosen to work in print media, because I like discovering people with interesting stories. I have a lot of passion for investigations, too; I intently watch what my colleagues from Ziarul de Garda and RISE Moldova do, and I hope to do an investigation of my own one day. So, in a way, I will become a detective, only in journalism. The trainers teaching investigative journalism at the SAJ are my colleagues now. I have learned from them that in journalism one needs to have a well-developed spirit of observation and, what is more important, you have to be always objective, impartial, and unbiased in any article you write.”

    Media is power, and we can change things as journalists

    “I recall that, during my admission interview to the SAJ, the School’s Director Sorina Stefarta said that some journalistic investigations had overthrown governments. I am convinced that in Moldova, too, the situation may be changed due to the media, among other things, but journalists have to do their work honestly, correctly, and only for the benefit of their reader, viewer or listener.”

  • 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.


Success stories

“I Will Become a Detective, Anyway, Only in Journalism”
“I could write a story about the SAJ teachers...”
“The lessons learned at the SAJ helped us be good in our job”