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.