• Iurii Botnarenco, laureate of the “Hope of the Year 2016” Special Prize

    Graduate of 2015-2016 class of the School of Advanced Journalism, Iurii Botnarenco was designated “Hope of the Year 2016”. The prize was offered on Friday, 16 December, at the Annual Gala of the Press.

    Iurii is a reporter of Bucharest’s “Adevarul” newspaper and manages the publication’s website section dedicated to Moldova. The “Hope of the Year 2016” is the first prize of his career in journalism. Clearly emotional, Iurii told us that the desire to receive that title came last year at the “Best Journalists of 2015” Gala, when he was still a student at the School of Advanced Journalism. Iurii says that this award will motivate him in his work even more. “I will do my work honestly, correctly, neutrally, objectively and professionally,” he said.

    The “Journalists of the Year 2016” Awards Gala is at its 22nd edition, and it has been organized by the Independent Journalism Center (IJC) and the Press Freedom Committee. Since 2007, five SAJ graduates have become “Hope of the Year”: Anastasia Nani (2007), Irina Gotisan (2010), Alla Ceapai (2012), Tamara Grejdeanu (2013) and Victoria Ungureanu (2014).

  • TV Journalism, a course that teaches working against the clock

    TV Journalism is one of the most difficult, but also the most captivating, courses held at the School of Advanced Journalism. It takes four weeks, during which students learn to be reporters, cameramen, editors and producers. The focus is on practical exercise, on assimilating the TV language and the techniques used to produce TV news and reports. Performance here depends on the ability to work in a team and to meet deadlines. Some of the best TV professionals worked along and together with students: Denis Rusu, Dorin Scobioala, Oxana Iutes and Andrei Cibotaru.

    The course was made of several modules. The first module, Technical Skills in TV, was held by Denis Rusu, producer of the Campaigns and Production Department of the Independent Journalism Center. From him, students learned everything about a video camera and about work with video editing software. Denis explained to them how to combine various layouts, what a text insert is and how it is made, how to film a panorama, a detail, a foreground and a background – essential things for the weeks to follow…

    The trainer of the second module, Dorin Scobioala, Director of the “Cat Studio” Agency and reporter for Reuters TV and Antena 3 in Moldova, explained to students what framing is and how the reporter and the interviewee should stand during filming; how to get the best possible surrounding sound; and how to make a successful standup. The module ended with the first practical exercise in TV – a TV report.

    The last two modules offered to young people the possibility to apply the newly obtained knowledge in practice. Equipped with tripods, video cameras and microphones, guided by journalist Oxana Iutes, they learned how to make a social report and a TV feature. The focus was particularly on the content of journalistic materials and on use of TV language. “You need to learn writing correctly, simply and so that everyone could understand,” Oxana kept telling them. Students were searching for interesting stories, went to filming sessions, wrote texts and edited their materials. At the end of the course, Oxana urged them to do their job with dignity, pay attention to everything that happens around them and never stop learning.

    The last and the most challenging module was TV Newsroom. For six days, students worked in the mode of a newsroom, experiencing what it means to be a TV reporter. In the morning, at the School they had an “editorial meeting”, where they determined topics for news. After hours of preparation and intensive fieldwork, students wrote and edited reports, and at 16.00 we together watched the newscast fully prepared by the students – domestic, foreign, political, economic, cultural and social news.

    Like in previous years, the biggest challenge was to meet the deadline – a real test of endurance in television. “We had the opportunity to learn from the best and we got practical advice that will help us when we start working,” said student Adriana Vlas. Cristina Cornescu believes that only experience and daily work can make you become a true TV reporter. Her colleague Nicolae Galaju said that after the four weeks of TV journalism he understood how much effort is being spent for those very short two minutes of a TV news story or report. “It is huge and very difficult work,” Nicolae concluded.

    Next week the SAJ starts the last course of the first semester – Visual Journalism. Students will learn everything about the design of print press and infografics.

  • 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.

  • Iurii Botnarenco: “Thanks to the SAJ, journalism has been a stroke of luck”

    In 2009, he graduated Moldova State University with a license degree in International Relations and went in search of the American dream. Five years later he came back home and, since he was looking for a new beginning, he applied to the School of Advanced Journalism. He came here rather out of curiosity, with a good dose of skepticism, because he didn’t believe that a career in journalism is possible in Moldova. Surprise came with the graduation of the SAJ, as a job offer. Now, he is a reporter with “Adevarul” newspaper from Bucharest; he manages the publication’s section for Moldova on its website and is proud of being part of a correct and professional team.

    At the SAJ, everything is different!

    “I returned from the USA in 2015, but I didn’t see myself working in Moldova. In the first days of the ‘vacation’ home, surfing Facebook, I saw the announcement about admission to the School of Advanced Journalism (SAJ). At that moment I thought that since I have free time anyway, why don’t I use this chance? I prepared the application, went to the interview, and on September 1st I was among the fourteen students of the School’s tenth graduating class. I wanted to improve my communication skills, learn something new in a field where there a lot to learn about and from!

    Classes at the SAJ impressed me from the start. Here, interesting instructors and the best practitioners in their field teach topics in a manner easy to perceive, focusing on practical work. All information, suggestions and advice that they offered to us is a product of their professional experience, not taken from books on journalism. And I used to say to my friends: “If you don’t like journalism, I assure you that you will like the School of Advanced Journalism. Here, everything is different!” I meant, first of all, the manner in which each course is taught.

    In ten months, I learned more than in three years of university

    “The schedule is very well structured, and in a relatively short time we learned everything a beginner journalist needs to know – from how to write a piece of news to media law and ethics or radio and video editing. The difference between the SAJ and university is that here you don’t study theory, but you do lots of practical exercises! Homework is a practical task, either a piece of news, interview or report. Thus, from the very first day of school you see how they eat this bread and you gather a rich experience of work in the manner of a real media outlet. I liked TV journalism the best – for its dynamics and for the fact that in a way you are the director of your own story. In TV you are always in action, among people, in search of interesting topics. At the School we learned to film, do the best stand-ups, write texts for reports and edit them. I don’t know where else a journalist can learn the job in several dimensions. And a graduate of the SAJ is a universal journalist, who can do anything the producer or editor ask.”

    The internship at PRO TV was an amazing experience

    “For the internship at the end of the year, I wanted to get to work at a television – and I chose PRO TV Chisinau. It was a unique experience; I went to different sites daily, filmed the ‘hot’ topics of the day. In the four weeks of the internship, I made about ten reports that appeared in the main newscast on PRO. The first report was about a women’s football team from Ialoveni who won the Republic’s Cup. We had to film the girls’ joy, how they traveled on their bus from Chisinau to Ialoveni, marching with that cup… Then were reports with more adrenaline, but more tragic for simple people. They were about the floods in Chisinau in the summer of 2016, especially on Albisoara street, and about the floods in the south of the country. I remember the moment when at 12 o’clock at night I was called by the news producer, who asked me if I wanted to go right then to Ceadir-Lunga town, where water had risen a meter high… I said ‘YES!’ without any hesitation.”

    The job offer came at a time when I expected it the least

    “One day, when I was still attending classes, the School’s Director Sorina Stefarta told us: “Adevarul newspaper from Bucharest is looking for a correspondent in Chisinau. Who wants?” Three students raised their hands, but in the end only I remained, as the others refused for different reasons. I accepted the job immediately, tempted by the idea of a more flexible schedule, which would let me do several things and not be forced to stay in an office. I went to Bucharest, signed the contract, and on May 15, 2016, the day before my birthday, I became a correspondent of Adevarul.ro in Chisinau. Although online work is not as impressive as on television, I sometimes try to add TV elements to articles. I go on site, film, and then edit the report or interview. And all that is thanks to the knowledge obtained at the SAJ.

    The School of Advanced Journalism offered me the opportunity of good professional training – an SAJ graduate can do everything: film, edit, write texts, make photos, and Adevarul offers me the chance to work in a team where no one tells me what or how to write, meaning the chance to be an independent journalism. At the School, teachers used to say: ‘Write in a way that won’t make you feel ashamed when you look in the mirror.’ I want to believe that I don’t disappoint them!”

  • 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.

  • Two graduates of the SAJ are among the winners of the contest for the best journalistic investigation

    Anastasia Cucuruz and Ghenadie Brega, graduates of the 2014-2015 class, won the 3rd prize in the contest of journalistic investigations on the topic of corruption. The prize was awarded for the article titled “The Gas (In)dependence of Moldova and Ukraine”, produced in collaboration with journalist Elena Chernyshova from Ukraine.

    Anastasia Cucuruz is currently the PR&Communications Manager of the International Center “La Strada”. Since she studied at the School of Advanced Journalism, Anastasia has collaborated with the Journalistic Investigations Center and wrote news articles for Politik.md. She also used to be a local reporter for Transilvania Regional Business, www.trb.ro, a portal of economic analyses from Romania. Ghenadie Brega is reporter with “Ziarul de Garda” weekly newspaper and freelancer with the Journalistic Investigations Center.

    “I would have liked that the problem we wrote about didn’t exist… But since abuses happened and were written about, it would have been correct there to be a reaction – which unfortunately didn’t happen. Anyway, we, journalists, won’t give up. We will continue knocking at the door until it opens,” Anastasia said at the award ceremony on Tuesday, December 13.

    The contest of journalistic investigations was organized as part of the “Strengthening the Prevention and Analysis Functions of the National Anticorruption Center” project, with the support of UNDP, NAC and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway. 15 journalists registered for the contest, with 42 materials published in the period of January-October 2016. Investigations targeted corruption, mismanagement of public money and property, undeclared wealth and businesses, etc. In addition to diplomas, contest winners received valuable prizes from organizers, such as laptops, video and photo cameras.

  • Angelica Frolov, at the course on Ethics and Diversity in the Media: “People are different, but equal”

    These days, the School of Advanced Journalism is having one of the most important courses for a future journalist – Ethics and Diversity in the Media. For a better understanding of diversity, students had a meeting with Angelica Frolov, coordinator of the Lobby and Advocacy Program of “GENDERDOC-M” Center. The discussion focused on the rights of LGBT people and on avoiding discriminating terminology in references to them.

    The meeting started with the presentation of GENDERDOC-M, an organization with the mission to protect and promote the rights of the LGBT community (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) in Moldova. Angelica Frolov mentioned that every person, every citizen should have equal rights, regardless of their political, social, economic, cultural or sexual affiliation. “No one has the right to discriminate or humiliate people with visions, opinions or ideas that differ from theirs,” said GENDERDOC-M representative.

    Another important topic that caused controversy among students was related to stereotypes and prejudices, which give rise to homophobia. Thus, Angelica Frolov says, LGBT community members are the most often abused physically and verbally. She also says that in Moldova most crimes against LGBT people are based on hatred towards them. That is why “we are asking for harsher punishment for those who instigate to hatred,” she said.

    Special attention was given to the discussion about how to write correctly without discrimination and what terminology it is better to use in articles and reports. Since SAJ students are just starting their professional journey, Angelica Frolov stressed that improper use of discriminating terms can sometimes lead to serious consequences. “The media should inform the public objectively and as correctly as possible, respecting the gender identity of every person,” the guest concluded. This idea is also stipulated in the Moldovan Journalist’s Code of Ethics. Thus, in clause 4.15 (Tolerance and non-discrimination) it is said that “a journalist shall treat fairly all persons that they come in contact with in the exercise of their profession and shall not discriminate based on gender, age, ethnicity, religion, social status or sexual orientation.”

    The data of the latest sociological survey, “Discrimination in Moldova: Citizens’ Perception”, produced by the Institute of Public Policies in October 2014, show that 83% of Moldovans have a negative attitude towards LGBT people, and only a little over 11% are neutral towards this category of citizens. The same survey shows that over 90% of our fellow citizens would not accept to have a lesbian or homosexual friend.


Success stories

“Thanks to the SAJ, journalism has been a stroke of luck”
“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”