For the second time, SAJ students visited journalists in Romania
The autumn that has just ended gave the 15 students of the School of Advanced Journalism (SAJ) the opportunity to get to know, from the start of their careers, the work of some important media outlets in Bucharest. The visit was brief, but intense, and the agenda included public and private media. It was possible due to the support of the OSCE Mission in Moldova within the “Professional Media – Guarantee of Sustainable Democracy” project, realized in partnership with the Independent Journalism Center (IJC).
The program began with an informal discussion with Daniel Bojin from RISE Project Romania. He spoke about the concept and values of RISE, about collaboration with colleagues from RISE Moldova and about the charm and difficulties of investigative journalism. One of the topics was data journalism as a foundation of media investigation, and it served as the theme of the workshop that Daniel held a week later for SAJ students at Vadul lui Voda town.
Next was the visit to Romanian Television, where Gabriel Giurgiu, program producer and member of the channel’s Board, was their guide. The two hours spent at TVR were a symbiosis between the past and the present, when students learned what the public channel meant to Romanian history after 1990 and what challenges this outlet faces at the moment. They visited the TVR newsroom, studios producing the best known shows, and spoke about the details of daily work on television with Ms. Carla Pompea, program director of TVR, bombarding her with questions.
From TVR we went to another public outlet that made history – Radio Romania. Here, responsible people from the Communication Department showed to students the technological side of Radio Romania, how broadcasting is ensured and what the focus in the production of materials is. Maria Toghina, journalist and member of the outlet’s Board, spoke about the “technology” of a good journalistic reputation and its importance. “At Radio Romania I again got convinced that we must believe in what we do, report about facts and be guided by values such as critical attitude and political neutrality,” said student Eugeniu Kanskii. Student Cristina Cornescu was also impressed by the things she heard: “‘Be honest and don’t take half measures! You can make mistakes, but your honesty will save you, because a mistake can be accepted, unlike ill will!’ – these are true lessons of professionalism…”
About ethics, professionalism and… about why many good journalists have never done journalism studies at university, students spoke at the National News Agency AGERPRES. Alexandru Giboi, the outlet’s general director, spoke about the main challenges faced by news agencies, about how they work and about the partnership between AGERPRES, Moldpres, and other similar structures. A curious, but also encouraging, detail for SAJ students was the fact that Alexandru Giboi got into the media having graduated a technical university. For them, it is an example of success and a proof that if you are sufficiently persevering and motivated, you can succeed. Motivation and perseverance are also the things that help Ana Maria Luca, editor-in-chief of the International Policy Department of AGERPRES, in her daily activities. In particular, she insisted on explaining to young people why, in order to be a good journalist, you need to be connected to current realities, not only to the topic of your material. “It is especially important when you report on an international event – you need to see the world as a whole and be very well documented,” she said.
The evening caught the SAJ team at the “House of Journalist”, a community of journalists which, by the courage and originality with which they treat reality, quickly asserted itself on the Romanian media market. Sitting in the attic that is used as an editorial office, Lina Vdovii and her “housemates” told students how the idea of such a community had been born and how they come up with the topics that they sometimes work on for weeks or even months. One of the students wanted to know if it feels depressing writing about depressing things. The answer was simple: “It is a choice. Our heroes aren’t celebrities in the spotlight; they are simple people, many of whom live in a sort of parallel world. We want to tell everyone about them and their problems, and the big number of readers that the ‘House of Journalists’ has tells us that we are on the right track.” As a proof, Lina Vdovii showed them a piece from an hour-long documentary, freshly filmed, about a family living in a place out of this world … in the very heart of Bucharest – Delta Vacaresti.
Also with a film at the cinema ended the first day of the visit – at the invitation of the Embassy of Moldova in Bucharest, the SAJ team attended the opening screening of the latest production of director Igor Cobileanschi, “Business East”, filmed in Romania.
The second day began at Ziare.com, one of the oldest news portals in Romania. The first thing noticed by everyone was the extremely small office of the outlet. Editor-in-chief Bogdana Boga explained that it is just a small part of those who contribute to the content of the portal. “In fact,” she said, “it is both a serious opportunity and a serious challenge of the Internet: many of our authors work from the outside, and only the people responsible for an event or other topics of the day are present in the office.” Asked about the place of news from Moldova on Ziare.com, Bogdana Boga said that their frequency depends on the importance of events in Chisinau; thus, a special section had been created for the presidential elections of October 30. As for the success of a news portal, Bogdana Boga says there is no universal recipe. The important thing is to be fair to the reader. An example is false titles that Ziare.com avoids. Because the reader doesn’t forgive lies, Bogdana says.
From Ziare.com we went to Adevarul Holdong, where we were met by Dan Marinescu, editor-in-chief of the “Adevarul” publication, and Ramona Ursu, coordinating editor. Discussion touched upon newspapers, circulations and the situation of the media in the two countries. Students wanted to know how the printed newspaper makes peace with the one online, and Dan Marinescu surprised them, saying that the future of the press – be it newspapers, radio or TV – is online. “That is why,” he said, “today, and especially tomorrow, a journalist must be multifunctional. It is no longer enough to know how to write. A journalist must know how to film, edit, make photos and use multimedia tools. Because online everything is done on the go…” In her turn, Ramona Ursu told students about the role of media campaigns for the image and credibility of a media outlet. As an example she mentioned the latest campaign conducted by “Adevarul” that referred to cases unsolved by the Romanian police in the past 20-30 years. According to Ramona, the pressure that campaign placed on the police made them return to cases that lots of people believed buried long ago, and together with it grew the pressure of society on the law enforcement.
The last destination was Radio Europa FM, one of the most popular radios in Romania, equally appreciated for good music and for its reports. Together with Liliana Nicolae, who has been for several years the SAJ’s trainer of radio journalism, we were met by an extremely cheerful and welcoming team. Colleagues from Europa FM expressed interest for developments in Chisinau, and students asked them how serious journalism can be done at an entertainment radio. “Entertainment can be different, too. One thing is gossip and tabloid news, and another thing is informing and cultivating people in a casual manner,” was the answer. “The visit to Bucharest has been a memorable experience. We met people with a rich professional background. I was impressed by all outlets, and I would return here, because there is always something new to learn. But if I had the chance to do an internship, I would gladly choose Europa FM, for its team of extraordinary and extremely positive people,” said Dumitrita Andriuta upon returning… We parted after exchanging small presents (“Chisinaul de seara” chocolates took the place of cups with Europa FM logo) and with a promise to return. But already with another SAJ class.