• Media Law, the Course Teaching Journalists Responsibility

    What  is a topic of public interest? When must a journalist disclose his sources? In what cases can access to information be limited? What is state secret? When can a child be interviewed? How are broadcasting licenses issued? These are just some of the questions that the SAJ students sought and found answers to at the course of Media Law. Lawyer Tatiana Puiu was the one to initiate them into articles and laws.

    Media Law is a mainly theoretical module, with the study being focused of the fundamentals of law and good practices in the activities of mass media. The course lasted five days, during which young people studied various laws and articles directly related to the work of a journalist. Tatiana Puiu shared with them details about the laws that regulate the operation of the press in Moldova, gave examples of good European practices in the fields of mass media and freedom of expression, and explained the role and position of the European Court of Human Rights in disputes targeting the media.

    During the course, students also had some special guests. Representatives of the Moldovan Institute for Human Rights (IDOM) – lawyer Olesea Doronceanu and coordinator of the Litigation&Advocacy program Natalia Mardari-Grebencea – spoke with future journalists about stigmatization and media coverage of persons with HIV/AIDS. According to them, the effects of discrimination against this category of people are dramatic not only for those who are stigmatized, but also for those who discriminate. In this context, Natalia Mardari mentioned that persons with HIV/AIDS will always be tempted to hide this diagnosis, avoid going to the doctor, and falsify their medical records, which “might endanger not only their health and life, but also those around them.”

    Another guest of the SAJ was the deputy chairman of the Central Electoral Commission, Nicolae Damaschin. He spoke with students about the work and duties of the Broadcasting Coordinating Council, about security of the information space, and about the situation of the media in the country. The topic that sparked controversy was the one related to the monitoring of the election campaign. According to the CEC representative, since broadcasters know that penalties are insignificant, they consciously break the law.

    Currently, the SAJ is having the course of Radio Journalism. The module will last about three weeks, during which students will work in the mode of an editorial office.

  • 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.

  • Long form Articles: Both Reports and Obituaries Should Be Original

    Report, character sketch and obituary are some of the new journalistic genres successfully learned by the students of the School of Advanced Journalism (SAJ) within the module of Long form Articles, which has recently been taught at the School. The trainer of the course was the director of “Ziarul de Garda” newspaper, Alina Radu.

    The course lasted five days; it was mainly practical, and the students’ working schedule was quite tense. However, young people successfully learned the techniques used to prepare a report and wrote a character sketch and an obituary. During the course, students did intensive fieldwork, collecting interesting information, topics and stories for their articles, but they also had some practical group exercises.

    From the course, students learned the elements of a report, a feature and an obituary. “Not just any occurrence that a journalist witnesses can become a report, and not just any human story can become a feature,” the trainer said. She also mentioned that journalists should take into consideration several important elements when they start writing a report: temporal proximity, spatial proximity and the novelty of the event. Journalists should not forget, however, about their public, either. “Write as simply, clearly and accurately as possible,” Alina Radu noted.

    Students confessed that this complex course helped them better understand the specific features of the three journalistic genres and promised to take into account all of the trainer’s suggestions and recommendations when they get to work in media outlets. “I learned to see in people things that others don’t see,” said student Liliana Botnariuc at the end of the course.

  • Valentina Basiul, author of “Through the Eyes of the Press. Moldova. A Quarter of a Century”, visited the SAJ

    She thumbed through newspapers, starting with the collections deposited in the library since August 1991, when the Declaration of Independence was adopted. She reconstructed, step by step, the history of events, and with them – the history of the Republic of Moldova. She is journalist Valentina Basiul of Radio Free Europe, who launched her book, “Through the Eyes of the Press. Moldova. A Quarter of a Century”, this September. Today, the author was the guest of a new Discussion Club at the School of Advanced Journalism, and she was asked about the idea for the book, about the history of the country, and about the evolution of the press over the past 25 years.

    Students wanted to know how the idea of such a book came to be. According to Valentina, the concept appeared spontaneously, from the great desire to understand the history of Moldova and how print media covered the most important political, economic and social events that the country went through.

    To build a correct and balanced image of events, the journalist read different publications: official and those of the opposition, in Russian and Romanian. “I tried to combine all voices and presented issues from different points of view,” said Valentina. “I thumbed through dozens of newspapers that, in time, became historic documents. I reconstructed step by step the picture of the past 25 years…”

    Student Maria Svet asked about the reactions of politicians from the current political class and of those who were once in power to the publication of the book. “They were different,” said Valentina with a smile. The meeting ended with a book signing session, where the author left personal messages to each student.

    Valentina Basiul has a rich experience in journalism. She worked for Timpul and Adevărul Moldova newspapers as political reporter, editor and deputy editor-in-chief. Since September 2014, she has been reporter for Radio Free Europe. She collaborates with the Association of Independent Press and the Journalistic Investigations Center. She has got several professional awards and is one of the 10 Best Journalists of 2009.

  • A new promotion of students trained to use open data

    Sixteen students and graduates of the School of Advanced Journalism were trained in open data journalism in early November. For three days, participants in the fourth Data Journalism Workshop organized by the SAJ with the support of the OSCE Mission to Moldova learned to use open governmental data and found topics for investigation. Students were guided by Daniel Bojin, journalist with RISE Project Romania, and Dumitru Lazur, reporter with RISE Project Moldova.

    The workshop began with a short presentation of current trends in the media. Daniel Bojin spoke about the importance of collaboration between journalists, statisticians and programmers, giving the example of the RISE Romania team, which is made of such specialists. This presentation was followed by a session of data journalism, where SAJ disciples found out how databases help research and analyze corruption and organized crime. Then, within a practical exercise together with Dumitru Lazur, students learned to efficiently use open databases from Moldova. They accessed official databases and learned how to correctly “read” figures.

    In the following two days of the workshop the emphasis was also on practical exercise. Divided into four teams, participants identified topics for investigation, developed strategies for research and production of materials – all that by using databases. Students were impressed by the new things they learned and said that they would use these techniques to produce professional journalistic materials. “We learned about new methods for searching data and processing them into information, and investigative journalism became a very captivating genre for me,” said student Liliana Botnariuc. Her colleague Nicolae Galaju believes that databases can be used in various journalistic genres. “I will apply in practice everything I learned,” he said.

    Trainers were impressed by the performance and interest shown by workshop participants. They encouraged students to continue researching the topics chosen and produce the investigations they began during training. Daniel Bojin urged the School’s disciples to appeal to open data with more trust: “Today, you cannot claim to be a journalist and not use this information resource.” In his turn, Dumitru Lazur called to students to be as curious as possible, and also very careful with details. “Read numbers correctly and ask questions when you see them,” the expert said.

    The Data Journalism Workshop is part of the extracurricular activities of the School of Advanced Journalism, and it was organized with the financial support of the OSCE Mission to Moldova. It has been the fourth edition of this event, and so far over 75 SAJ students and graduates have been trained in this field.

  • 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.

  • Radio Journalism, a Course that Teaches “Building” Images in the Reader’s Mind

    Sound, ambiance, sound effect, report and radio package are only some of the essential elements successfully learned by SAJ students at the course of Radio Journalism. For three weeks, they worked with the best journalists in the field – Diana Railean, reporter with Radio Free Europe; Liliana Nicolae, reporter and editor with Europa FM from Bucharest; and Vasile Botnaru, director of Free Europe Office in Moldova.

    To discover step by step the world and specificity of radio journalism, the course was divided into three modules. The first module, held by Diana Railean, lasted three days, during which SAJ students learned about radio sound. Together with the trainer, they did field work, recorded various ambient sounds and learned how they can harmoniously complement a radio report or news story.

    Liliana Nicolae of Europa FM, one of the best known radios in Romania, worked with students in the second module. For four days, Liliana spoke to future journalists about the characteristics of reports and radio packages. The emphasis was placed on the atmosphere and creativity, and also on the role of stand-up for a radio report. SAJ students did two practical tasks. “The job is tough, tiring, but it depends on you to make it beautiful and interesting,” said Liliana. At the end of the course, students asked the Europa FM reporter where she finds inspiration and topics for her reports. “I read a lot,” she answered.

    The course culminated in the most difficult, but also the most interesting module – Radio Journalism News Room, which was a real test of strength for the students. They worked in the mode of a newsroom and experienced firsthand what being a radio reporter feels like. Guided by Vasile Botnaru, students were divided into two teams; they delegated a shift editor, a news presenter and several reporters and prepared two radio programs each. Although young people were scared at first, they were pleased by the things they learned at the course.

    They confessed that despite a very hard pace of work, usually against the clock, the experience was unforgettable. At the end of the course, Eugeniu Kanskii received from the director of Free Europe Office a T-shirt – award for the best radio report. Vasile Botnaru congratulated SAJ students for their patience, perseverance and courage and shared some useful advice with future journalists. “Pay attention to the accuracy of thinking,” he concluded.

    The next course at the SAJ is TV Journalism. It will last four weeks.


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”