• The News, the first practical course that lays the foundation of journalism

    What the news is, what its functions are, what questions it must answer, what the difference is between information and news, where journalists search for information, and how they work with sources – these are some of the issues that formed the basis of one of the most important courses in journalism, The News. For six days, students worked along and together with trainers Diana Raileanu, reporter for Radio Free Europe, and Elena Robu, editor for Pro TV Chisinau channel.

    The course started with the basic notions about the news. Students found out how a news story should begin, what questions it should answer, and what its structure should be. Young people learned about the lead, headline, and body of a news story, about background, and  about the types of sources and the techniques used to work with them. Another important topic referred to how citations are used and how sources should be cited. “A good citation can save a poor article,” trainer Diana Raileanu said.

    In the six days of the course, students made five practical works. Thus, for the first time in their lives, they experienced field work and applied their spirit of observation, participated in a press conference, learned to work with sources and do their research. And even if at first glance they thought the course was easy, many of them found news writing a true challenge. “I understood that we should be daring, because we will sometimes have to ask uncomfortable questions,” said student Maria Svet.

    At the end of the course, trainers gave some useful advice to future journalists. Elena Robu told them that a good reporter must always keep pace with their reader, viewer or listener, providing them with correct, true and neutral information. Then, Diana Railean suggested them to resist manipulation, question everything, and verify any information. “Read the press critically!” she said.

    Tomorrow, SAJ students will start a new course – Magazine Journalism.

  • Magazine Journalism, or How an Idea Can Turn Into a Magazine

    What is the difference between a newspaper and a magazine? What is brand? How is a magazine created? These are questions that SAJ students sought answers to at the course of Magazine Journalism. The course is a debut for the School of Advanced Journalism, and it was led by communication expert Ludmila Andronic, chairperson of the Press Council.

    The course lasted three days, during which future journalists learned what a magazine is and, more importantly, how it is “thought up.” Ludmila Andronic told students about the features characteristic to a magazine, and she also discussed with them about the cover, which, in the trainer’s opinion, is the element that “sells” a magazine, and about the specificity of a magazine journalist’s work. The most interesting moment of the course was practical exercise. Students worked at producing their own magazine – from idea, target audience, name, number of pages, to sending it to print. The exercise was very interesting and useful.

    Young people had a first-hand experience of working in an editorial office and saw how important communication and the responsibility of each team member are. “As an editor-in-chief, I understood that behind a magazine and its cover there is an entire team of people who work for their readers,” said student Nicolae Galaju. Ludmila Andronic, trainer of the course, was impressed by SAJ students’ achievements and noted the dedication that they proved during the course. “If you keep working with the same passion, you will definitely succeed,” she said in the end.

    The next course under the current schedule of the SAJ is Long-Form Articles.

  • First Meeting of the SAJ Discussion Club, on Defense and Security Journalism

    How to behave in crises? How to realize that we are being manipulated? When should we report about an event and when not? Should we publish secret information? Should we disclose the name of our source? These are just some of the issues addressed at the first this year meeting of the SAJ Discussions Club. Our guest was political analyst Iulian Chifu, Director of the Conflict Prevention Center from Bucharest.

    Iulian Chifu, who visited Chisinau for a number of training events organized by the Information and Documentation Center on NATO in Moldova, spoke to SAJ students on the topic of “Defense and Security Journalism – Ethics and Deontology Rules for Beginner Journalists” and then answered their questions. The professor of the School of Political and Administrative Studies from Bucharest mentioned some of the challenges that journalists face when they cover topics related to national defense and security. In his opinion, the main problem that a reporter encounters is access to information and sources. “Be very careful when someone shares information with you. So as not to succumb to manipulation, a journalist must be always prepared and documented,” the guest said.

    “Should we publish information and disclose the name of the source?” was another topic discussed at the SAJ Club. In this sense, Iulian Chifu underlined that a journalist should very well know how much of the information they can use. He also pointed out to students that a reporter producing materials on issues of security and defense should know how to behave during crises and should understand what to film and how to do it and when they can or cannot report about an event.

    At the end of the meeting, Iulian Chifu said that raising the local media’s awareness on topics of security and defense is very important both for reporters and for the entire society. For this reason, the guest thinks, when journalists work with information related to domestic or global security, they should be morally and ethically neutral. “Don’t let yourselves be manipulated!” he said at parting.

  • A new academic year began at the School of Advanced Journalism

    Optimistic, cheerful and clearly emotional were the students of the 11th graduating class, who began studies at the School of Advanced Journalism on September 1. For ten months, fifteen young men and women will work in the mode of an editorial office and will receive intensive training in journalism. They will learn the standards and practices of western journalism and how they can be applied in Moldovan media. All that – along and together with the best journalists and media experts.

    The first day of school was mainly initiation. SAJ Director Sorina Stefarta came with a welcoming message for the new students. She congratulated those who will make up the 11th graduating class of the SAJ and wished them beautiful accomplishments, lots of interesting news and reports, and constant curiosity.

    With congratulations, advice and good thoughts also came some representatives of the 10th SAJ graduate class, who shared their own experience at the SAJ. Lia Ciutac, Irina Gusan, Olimpia Begleta and Liliana Croitor wished to future journalists patience, courage, perseverance and confidence. “Journalism is team work, so it is very important that you help and respect each other, be correct to yourselves and, last but not least, be punctual – an absolutely necessary thing for a journalist,” said Liliana Croitor.

    Students enrolled to the School of Advanced Journalism for academic year 2016-2017 have license degrees in various fields. Three of them graduated university with specialization in Journalism and Communication Studies; others studied Law, International Relations, History and Psychology, Philology, Cadastre, Geodesy and Constructions, Finance and Banks, Business and Economy. One of the SAJ students graduated from the University of Exeter Department of Economy and Politics (the UK).

    The School of Advanced Journalism is a project of the Independent Journalism Center (IJC). It was launched on September 4, 2006 in order to prepare journalists for Moldovan mass media. Since 2006, this post-university educational institution has prepared over 150 young journalists, the majority of whom work for the country’s media outlets.

  • Photojournalism, a course on embellishing information with images

    Caption, cropping, color balance, tone balance, diaphragm, lens – all these notions are no longer foreign to SAJ students due to the course of photojournalism. For five days (September 19-23), they had been learning the secrets of successful photography and how a single image can replace a thousand words. Trainer Nicolae Pojoga, lecturer at the Arts Academy of Moldova, led them into the world of photography.

    The course began with studying the functioning principles of a camera. Then, via practical exercises, students learned the rules of photographic composition and editing. A special emphasis was placed on understanding the notion of caption and the rules of writing it. “In most cases, this text is the only words that a hurried reader grasps. It depends on you what information you’ll succeed to deliver,” Nicolae Pojoga said. To apply the theory learned at the course, SAJ students made a working visit to Colonita village in Chisinau municipality.

    The ethics and deontology of photojournalism was one of the key topics discussed during classes and it raised heated discussions among students. Divided into two camps, they simulated a public debate, where they spoke about the principles for and against publishing a picture in a magazine.

    SAJ students also discussed about the art of photography and the challenges of this profession with the special guest of the course, photographer Ramin Mazur. He spoke to students about his work experience and mentioned that a photojournalist’s job is not quite as easy as it might seem at first glance. “You must be a true professional and work with dedication and passion,” Ramin said.

    Students were impressed by the things they learned, especially given that for some of them the course of photojournalism was among the reasons why they chose to study at the SAJ. “I have a passion for quality photography, and now I understand what hard work there is behind a successful image,” said student Cristina Papusoi.

    The next course in the SAJ study plan is “The Interview.”

  • Introduction to Journalism, the first course of initiation for SAJ students

    Academic year 2016-2017 at the School of Advanced Journalism has begun with initiation of new students into the secrets of the job of press reviewer. For three days, they were learning what journalism is, how a media outlet works, how information is gathered, and what functions the media has in a democratic society.

    Introduction to journalism is a mostly theoretical course. SAJ trainer and director Sorina Stefarta spoke to students about the key notions and principles of journalism, criteria used to choose topics, the role of one’s own observation, research, and information gathering techniques. The topic that aroused curiosity and lively discussion was related to sources. Students found out that there are several types of sources and special techniques to work with them; that a source must not become too close to the journalist; and that, if necessary, their identity must be protected.

    The course also involved discussions about objectiveness, impartiality and credibility, and a special accent was placed on the problem of plagiarism in journalism, which is a very serious violation of ethics and deontology. Next, students learned what a news story is, discussed how certain topics can become material for the press, and produced by themselves a press review – the first practical exercise of this semester. SAJ students will learn more information about the structure of a news story and the rules for its writing at their next course – The News.

  • At its 10th anniversary, the School of Advanced Journalism organized debates about the challenges and perspectives of independent journalism

    Year 2016 at the School of Advanced Journalism unfolds under the sign of its ten years of activity, as in the summer the School was graduated by its tenth class of young journalists. On this occasion, on September 30, the representatives of all ten graduate classes of the School gathered at a conference titled “Independent Journalism: Today’s Challenges and Tomorrow’s Perspectives.” Together with trainers and special guests from abroad – Steven Knowlton, Petru Clej and Lina Vdovii – we talked about the evolution of journalism in Moldova over the past decade and about survival chances of the independent press. The conference was organized with the support of the OSCE Mission to Moldova and the Independent Journalism Center.

    In her welcome speech, SAJ Director Sorina Stefarta said that the purpose of this event was to gather one day at one place as many of the School’s graduates as possible and to speak about how journalism in Moldova developed over the past decade and what the SAJ’s role was in this context. She also mentioned that all the topics discussed at the conference had been suggested by graduates and trainers via a questionnaire produced by the SAJ.

    “Here are just some of the post-poll ideas. Today’s journalism lacks independence and integrity. To keep integrity is also a piece of advice for those who wish to start a career in journalism. Those who feel they cannot do it should give up. The current state of the media in Moldova is worse than ever, and the atmosphere keeps worsening. The challenges that the young people who start doing journalism face are many and diverse – from financial issues to the editorial policies of media outlets, from grammar to lack of general knowledge, from political recruitment to abandonment of deontology. The role of the media today is, unfortunately, to do propaganda and manipulation instead of the right one – provision of correct information to the public,” summarized Sorina Stefarta the results of the SAJ poll.

    The topics were discussed in three sessions. The first one, “The role of journalistic training in the education of media professionals,” brought in front of the graduates four of the SAJ trainers. Vasile Botnaru, Alina Radu, Dorin Scobioala and Liliana Barbarosie, who also represents the first graduate class of the School, shared their experience with the SAJ and tried to suggest solutions for the recovery of true journalistic spirit. Particularly, they referred to the importance of abiding by journalistic ethics and deontology and to the need for journalistic solidarity. “If we lose the match with conscience, we will disappear forever,” Vasile Botnaru said.

    In his turn, Steven Knowlton, professor of journalism at Dublin City University, Ireland, and author of the first study program of the SAJ, spoke to participants in the conference about how independent journalism can survive. He mentioned that the School of Advanced Journalism is a real inspiration for him and his students. “It is the place where real journalism is made. Keep doing what you’re doing and keep the flame burning,” he concluded.

    During the second session, “Today’s challenges and tomorrow’s perspectives of journalism,” our colleague Petru Clej from London, who is also reporter for RFI Romania and SAJ trainer, spoke about the “crisis of ‘traditional’ journalism in the age of social networks” and about the impact of social networks on the daily work of a journalist. A separate issue, according to Petru Clej, is the credibility of information in the networks, but … “it is impossible to be a journalist and not be connected to social networks.”

    Journalist Lina Vdovii, author of journalistic investigations and feature reports, member of the “House of Journalist” Community from Bucharest, came to the event to tell her colleagues by profession about the “House of Journalist” project as a model of independent journalism and about the charm and difficulties of freelancing in mass media. Still, she encouraged SAJ graduates and students to practice freelancing and not be afraid to leave the comfort zone of traditional media outlets. “The society we live in needs strong people. You only need to have courage and crazy enthusiasm,” Lina also said.

    The conference culminated in the presentation of success stories by some graduates of the School of Advanced Journalism. Angela Zaharova, Anastasia Nani, Diana Railean, Dorina Gherganov, Lilia Zaharia, Denis Rusu, Veronica Marin, Dorin Galben, Stefan Grigorita, Parascovia Rogate and Iurii Botnarenco – representatives of all ten generations of students – spoke about the challenges of the profession and about how the SAJ led them to do correct, independent and fair journalism.

    At the event, the Independent Journalism Center launched a contest for SAJ graduates. A prize of EUR 750 will be granted to the most original project or journalistic idea. Details about the contest will be posted on www.media-azi.md and www.scoaladejurnalism.md.

    The conference was organized with the support of the OSCE Mission to Moldova and the Independent Journalism Center. The School of Advanced Journalism was launched on September 4, 2006 in order to prepare journalists for Moldovan media. Since 2006 up to now, over 150 young journalists finished this educational institution.


Success stories

“The SAJ is the place where you learn all about journalism in a very short time”
”At SAJ I learned from the best professionals in the industry, I met brilliant colleagues, and I had memorable experiences”
“School ended, but the daily routine remained: I read news every morning and seek information from several sources to find the truth”