• For the Third Time, the SAJ Students Visited Several Media Outlets in Bucharest



    One of the nice traditions that has been launched at the School of Advanced Journalism in recent years is the study visit to Bucharest. This year’s students were not an exception, and on April 22-24 they got to see the most important editorial offices in Romania. The visit lasted three days, during which emerging journalists and some of the former graduates saw how various media outlets across River Prut work. The young people met several journalists and sought to hear professional secrets from them.

    On the very first evening, the SAJ students met journalists Ana-Maria Luca (Balcan Insight) and Ana Poenariu (RISE Romania). Discussion focused mainly on war journalism and on the ways to cover armed conflicts in the media. “In this field, it is not about courage, but more about the journalist’s curiosity,” said Ana-Maria Luca, who had been reporting about the situation in the Middle East a few years ago and had gone through real moments of horror. Ana Poenariu, in her turn, shared ideas on how, when you talk with authorities, to ask questions in such a way that you always get the necessary answer.

    The first working day began with a visit to DIGI 24. The SAJ students saw LIVE work on the radio DIGI FM, saw how a DJ works in a live broadcast, and found out some secrets from the hosts of the morning entertainment show “Morning’s cool with Ramona and Coțofană” on Radio PRO FM. Then, students visited editorial offices and television filming sets, saw what happens behind the cameras, and met the hosts of a morning show, its producers, cameramen, and editorial staff.

    The next stop was Radio Romania. Students visited the most important departments of this public station: News, Digital Archive, Radio Library, and Radio Theater. Here, young journalists found out how radio sounds and noises are recorded and what work is done to record a play. Next, they had a meeting with journalist Maria Țoghină, a member of the Board of Administration of the Romanian Radio Broadcasting Company. She talked about the specificity of a radio journalist’s work, about the importance of impartiality, and, together with the School’s students, pointed out the challenges of the profession and how quality journalism is done. “Journalism needs to be done with passion. If you don’t care about what happens around you, you are not doing journalism. If you don’t dream news, you can’t write news,” Maria Țoghină said. Students wanted to know how classical radio resists in competition with online media in the age of digitalization. “We are trying to adapt to new information technologies. The thing that was lost in the battle with the Internet is the quality of news,” concluded Maria Țoghină.

    The next stop was the National News Agency AGERPRES. Here, Alexandru Giboi, the outlet’s general director, spoke with students about the agency’s mission, the purpose of the press, the trends of tomorrow’s journalism, and “survival” on the media market. The young journalists found out that today it is no longer enough to be very good in just writing news. A modern journalist who is just starting in the media or who already works should adapt to changes and accept challenges. According to Alexandru Giboi, on the labor market there will always be demand for a journalist who can write, film, edit, take professional photos, and, last but not least, have entrepreneurial thinking. “Promotion of an accomplished journalist is the pinnacle of the profession,” he said. At the end of the meeting the SAJ student watched and analyzed a fragment of the film “The Great Union – 100 Years of Romania,” produced by the AGERPRES team.

    In what direction does journalism move? What media do young people “consume” today and what will the profession of journalist look like tomorrow? The SAJ students discussed these questions at a coffee with Cristina Lupu, program director at the Independent Journalism Center in Bucharest. The expert underlined that the press will survive only with the help of new technologies, as, in her opinion, the journalist of the future cannot exist without minimum programming skills. “A modern journalist has to master several forms of journalism. You will not be able to practice this profession without technology. Use social media in you favor and try to see new technologies as your allies, not enemies,” Cristina Lupu said.

    The second day brought us to PRO TV Bucharest, where our host was reporter Vitalie Cojocari, who began his career at Pro TV Chisinau and used to be a trainer at the SAJ. He led us to the newsroom, showed us the studio where La Măruță show is filmed, and made us a great surprise – a meeting with the well-known presenters of the morning news – Mihai Dedu, Lavinia Petrea, and Florin Busuioc. The young journalists wanted to know at what time PRO TV stars begin their working day, how they manage to fight sleep, and what their professional secrets are. All three presenters mentioned that journalism is not only what you see on TV, but it is a titanic work that you do behind the screen, and “the success or failure of a newscast depends on each reporter in part.”

    Before saying goodbye to PRO TV Bucharest, Vitalie Cojocari told the students that the most important thing for a journalist is to know how and where to find news: “The other skills needed to a reporter will come with time, I am convinced now.” Vitalie encouraged students to stay in the media, not to give up before starting the big battle with the profession, and to keep getting better.

    Next, we went to one of the oldest news portals in Romania, Ziare.com. Bogdana Boga, editor-in-chief, told us about the changes and transformations the website had gone through in recent years, and about the need and importance of adapting classical journalism to new information technologies. Discussion also focused on the importance of quality media: “It is better to issue news later and not be the first, but to make that news accurate and of good quality.” Students further addressed the issue of fake news, highlighted the importance of using social media, and analyzed the trends of modern journalism. “Always choose reliable sources,” said Bogdana Boga at the end of the meeting.

    We then went to Adevărul Holding, where we were met by Dan Marinescu, editor-in-chief, and Monika Krajnik, editor for foreign events. The journalists discussed with the SAJ students about the “battle” between print media, television, and online media, about the slow but sure fall of print media, and analyzed the website Adevărul.md, which had been for over two years managed by a graduate of the SAJ’s 2015-2016 class, Iurii Botnarenco. Monika had only words of praise for our former student, mentioning his professional growth. The students wanted to know how to keep your image, maintain a brand in time, and create quality content. At the end of the visit, Dan Marinescu and Monika Krajnik offered to beginner journalists some advice on how NOT to do journalism. “Never mislead the public. Give accurate and quality information to the reader. Finally, try to do everything out of passion,” the journalists added.

    The last destination in Bucharest was Radio Europa FM. Together with our host, journalist Liliana Nicolae, who is also the trainer of the Radio Journalism course at the SAJ, the students visited the outlet’s studios, spoke with its team of reporters, and stopped for a discussion with Teodor Tiță, director of News Europa FM. He asked the students why they chose to come to journalism – a job that “involves responsibility and conscience.” In his opinion, you cannot be a journalist if you don’t seek news as soon as you wake up and are not interested in what happens around you at every moment. The students wanted to know about trends and what will happen with tomorrow’s radio. At the end of the visit, young people noted some tips from Teodor Tiță. “Read more. Be at the center of the world and amid events. Look at what foreign journalists do and learn from the best ones. In journalism, you must matter,” said the director of News Europa FM.

  • Environmental Journalism: Informing, Educating, and Making Readers More Responsible



    We live in the age of technologies and innovation, and the changes that happen vertiginously around us influence everyone’s life and health directly or indirectly. Why is the environment we live in important? What is the role of a journalist in reporting on environmental issues? Where do we find our topics? Why and how should we write about the world around us? The SAJ students answered these questions at the course in Environmental Journalism.

    Lilia Curchi, Natura Magazine Editor-in-Chief, Executive Director of the Association of Environment and Ecotourism Journalists of the Republic of Moldova, the Journalist of the Year 2015 laureate for reporting on environmental topics was the one who trained and guided the School’s students in environmental issues.

    The course started with a theoretical introduction to environmental journalism. The students analyzed several articles on ecology, worked on identifying possible topics, read laws and regulations, and studied the websites of state institutions and various NGOs working in this sphere. The trainer, in her turn, spoke about the principles of environmental journalism, about “invisible” issues directly affecting our health, and, together, they listed the most relevant topics, including air pollution, water quality, illegal deforestation, waste management, green space issues, etc.

    In order to help the SAJ students understand environmental topics better, Lilia Curchi organized several meetings with experts in the sphere. The young people attended a seminar on climate change at the local and world levels, after which they visited the Chisinau Botanical Garden. There, they found out more about rare species of trees, shrubs, tropical and technical plants, visited a breeding ground, and photographed various flower collections.

    During the five days of the course, the SAJ students did three practical works: a news report, an article, and an infographic. Finally, Lilia Curchi advised students to pay attention to details when writing about the environment, to focus on the chosen topics, and to address the environmental element even in materials apparently having almost nothing to do with environmental issues. “Journalists, through their works, not merely inform, but they also make consumers more responsible. Be honest and correct with yourselves, and stay very curious,” the trainer added.

    The next course for the SAJ students is Social Journalism.

  • The Students of the 12th Graduating Class Received Their Certificates of Studies



    Ten months – this is how long it took for the ten young men and women who came to the School of Advanced Journalism in 2017 to learn everything they needed so as to add to the new generation of journalists in Moldova. At a festive ceremony on July 6, 2018, they saw their dream come true and received their long-awaited and well-deserved Certificates of Studies from the SAJ team.

    The event started with a welcome speech from the School’s Director Sorina Stefarta. She congratulated the new graduates for the perseverance, curiosity and courage they demonstrated during the studies and urged them to remain in the profession regardless of any difficulties and obstacles and to contribute, together with their fellow colleagues, to the improvement of the Moldovan media.

    The people who guided the young people and taught them the profession – the SAJ trainers – also attended the ceremony. They encouraged the students to build a career in journalism here, at home, and to do that by adhering to professional ethics. “Although the temptations are many, don’t give in to manipulation. Go to serious outlets, where you will be able to do fair and professional journalism,” Liliana Barbarosie, reporter of Radio Free Europe, told the fresh graduates. The idea was supported by Vasile Botnaru, the director of Radio Free Europe. Alina Radu, the director of the “Ziarul de Garda” newspaper, added that Moldovan media need fair people and encouraged the former students to do professional journalism and to carry out as many investigations as possible “Don’t be afraid of anybody or anything,” she said. The event was also attended by the trainers Nadine Gogu, Ina Grejdeanu, Cristina Mogaldea, Corina Cepoi, Tatiana Puiu, Olesea Solpan-Fortuna and Mihaela Gherasim.

    The graduation ceremony culminated in the handing of the Certificates of Studies. Three of the ten students – Andrei Cebotari, Georgeta Finaru and Elmira Rosca – have graduated with merit, and other three of their colleagues – Diana Petrusan, Ion Ciobanu and Alexandra Bodarev – with outstanding merit. After receiving their certificates, the graduates thanked the SAJ team and all the trainers for their patience, encouragement and professionalism.

    The School of Advanced Journalism (SAJ) is a project of the Independent Journalism Center, launched in cooperation with the Missouri School of Journalism (USA) and the Paris-based Journalism School and Training Center (France). The School was designed on the basis of the graduate programs for advanced training of journalists and was created in accordance with the highest international journalism standards practiced in Europe and the United States of America. This year, the SAJ benefited from the financial support of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED/USA) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

  • Social Journalism: Focusing on the Person and Writing about Their Problems



    Social journalism is found in most journalistic materials. No newspaper or newscast appears without a social topic, such as increasing prices, road accidents, living standards, or migration. A person is the main character in all these materials. Why is it so important to write about people? How should we write about their problems and do it correctly? How should we report on sensitive topics? The SAJ students learned more about these issues during the course of Social Journalism. Elena Cioina, www.e-sanatate.md platform media manager, worked with the students.

    The course lasted six days, during which the students learned more about the subject of social issues. Together with the trainer, they discussed the responsibility of social institutions and the role of a journalist in reporting on social issues; they talked about the impact of social media and understood how sensitive topics could be addressed in a better way. During the course, each of the young journalists had to write an article on a social topic.

    After reading and thoroughly analyzing articles with the students, on the last day of the course, the trainer came up with more tips and recommendations for her future colleagues. “Try to search for original elements in trivial issues. Choose complex topics, appeal to sources, and decipher statistics. Always write in a simple way, understandable to everyone, and avoid ambiguous terms,” Elena said.

    For the third consecutive year, as part of the course, the SAJ students had a specialized module – Population and Development Journalism, organized in partnership with the UN Population Fund in Moldova (UNFPA). On that day, the future journalists met several experts in this sphere.

    Together with Valentina Bodrug-Lungu, Gender-Centru President, the students spoke about perceptions and stereotypes related to gender equality. The young people analyzed the realities and perspectives of gender equality and pointed out the values that journalists should promote. During the visit of the second guest – Eduard Mihalas, Population and Development Programs analyst at UNFPA Moldova – the discussion focused on active aging and on migration, which, according to the expert, has had a positive impact on our country. He also gave young people a few ideas on the topics they could address in their future articles as journalists. “How many are we in the Republic of Moldova? Are we going to disappear as a nation? Who will pay our pensions and what should we do about it?” – any of these issues could become a topic for a journalist.

    The last guest of the module – Ludmila Sarbu, Youth Programs analyst at UNFPA – explained to the students why young people and teenagers need health education; she spoke about key issues and myths about that subject and mentioned why a fair and qualitative program on sex education would have a positive impact on young people’s health and well-being in society.

    At the same time, the School of Advanced Journalism continues the course on Multimedia Newsroom.

  • Public Presentation of Final Works, a Challenge Successfully Passed by SAJ Students



    Having learned to write news stories, reports, interviews and to make their own journalistic investigations, having been for nine months taught by the best local journalists, the students of the 2017-2018 academic year got to show results – their final works. The works were presented in front of a commission of media experts and practitioners: Vasile Botnaru, director of the Radio Free Europe bureau; Mariana Rață, TV8 producer; Cristian Jardan, director of Unimedia.md; Elena Cioina, media manager of www.e-sanatate.md; Dorin Scobioală, director of the Cat Studio Production House; and Sorina Ștefârță, director of the School of Advanced Journalism.

    The students had two weeks to prepare their projects, during which they researched information, discussed with the sources and protagonists of their articles, filmed, edited, and did the layout for their works. They did all that under the guidance of tutors, who are also the trainers of the SAJ: Liliana Barbăroșie, journalist for Radio Free Europe; Victor Moșneag, investigative reporter for Ziarul de Gardă newspaper; Alina Țurcanu, editor of the TV project Pur și Simplu for Radio Free Europe; Andrei Cibotaru, TV journalist and blogger; Diana Răilean, journalist for Radio Free Europe; Lilia Curchi, coordinating editor of the Natura magazine; and Oxana Iuteș, deputy director of Internews Moldova.

    Out of the ten students, three prepared materials for radio, four tried their skills in TV reports, and three others wrote articles for print media. Social topics were of the most interest to the future journalists. Thus, Elmira Orozova informed us about the situation in Moldovan sports and explained why less and less high performance athletes appear in our land; Georgeta Fânaru wanted to know why Moldovans don’t go to doctors and often ring the alarm when it is already too late; Diana Petrușan found out how many villages in Moldova have no family doctors; and Alexandra Bodarev presented the life stories of some overweight people and told how they are fighting stereotypes.

    Ion Ciobanu spoke with several experts and responsible officials from education and learned from them why young people with hearing impairment have less and less access to colleges and universities; Daniela Gorincioi informed us about nitrates in the fruit and vegetables that we eat; Cristina Guzun tried to find out more about the “Peter Pan generation”; from Elena Rotari we found out about the situation of the ring road in Comrat; Grigore Vieru introduced us to the field of economy and told about the potential for growth of industrial production in our country; and Andrei Cebotari did a journalistic investigation about the churches located on the territory of several public hospitals in Chisinau and tried to find out why prices there are higher than in other holy places.

    The members of the evaluation commission congratulated students for the effort they made to produce their final works. In their opinion, all materials to a greater or lesser extent have met journalistic requirements, i.e. the criteria that have been taken into account in the evaluation of media projects: timeliness, accuracy, objectivity, originality, fairness, impartiality.

    The School of Advanced Journalism is a project of the Independent Journalism Center in Chisinau in partnership with the Missouri School of Journalism, USA, and the Paris-based Journalism School and Training Center, France. The SAJ was launched on September 4, 2006, aiming to train universal journalists for Moldovan media.

  • Community Journalism: A Place’s Identity through Newspaper Pages



    The last course of the year took the SAJ students to the village of Selemet in Cimislia district. The purpose of the visit was to collect information and then make a newspaper about the village and for the villagers. Those who helped the young reporters to discover the spirit of Selemet were trainers Petru Macovei and Angela Ivanesi. This year, our students had other young people, students of a journalism school from Germany, working alongside and together with them.

    The SAJ students had only six days to make the newspaper from concept to printing. The first day was an introductory one. Students spoke with Petru Macovei about the specifics of community journalism, about what differs it from other genres of mass media, about the peculiarities of the place, and then chose the editorial team by voting. Andrei Cebotari was appointed as the editor-in-chief. The function of editor was offered to Georgeta Fanaru, while Elena Rotari was appointed as layout designer, being responsible for arranging materials on the page in the most original way possible. Other students played the role of reporters and had to draft two articles each.

    Then came one of the most difficult but interesting and memorable parts of the course – the visit to the village. There, young reporters had a couple of hours to discuss with the village mayor, visit the local museum, kindergarten and school, searching everywhere for interesting topics. The visit was followed by two days of work in the newsroom when, under careful supervision of the trainers, the students wrote, edited and designed their articles. Finally, the “Tezaurul” newspaper was sent to the print shop. The life stories of sixteen ordinary people, story-keepers of Selemet, were reflected on eight pages.

    After they saw the result of their work just taken out of the printing press, the SAJ students analyzed, together with the trainer, the mistakes committed and the success achieved. Petru Macovei congratulated the students for their effort and pointed out the importance of team work. “Travel to villages, write more about people and don’t forget about the social responsibility that you have,” he said. Then, traditionally, they returned to Selemet, to share with the villagers the newspaper made exclusively about them and for them. The people looked happy and proud of the fact that their stories appeared in the village’s only newspaper.

  • Digital Journalism: Learning to Keep Pace with Innovation



    Rapid development of information technologies and emergence of various online tools made journalists adapt to new changes. Those who do not wish to lag behind need to learn being more efficient and faster and to use not just texts in their materials, but also photos, videos, hyperlinks, etc., so as to have original content. How to write fast and to combine classical text with innovation? All these issues were discussed by the SAJ students during the course of Digital Journalism. The one who initiated the students in the world of media technologies was Dumitru Ciorici, co-founder of the AGORA portal.

    Like other training courses which are held at the SAJ, the Digital Journalism course was split into two parts. In the first part, mostly theoretical, the students learned how to launch and finance a news portal, how to assess the audience of a website, and what criteria influence the increase or decrease of online traffic. Further, they discussed efficient online promotion of content and attended a masterclass where, together with the trainer, they tested a drone.

    Journalists-to-be learned what search engines are and found out why it is important to adapt to mobile versions. According to the trainer, today, having just a mobile phone at hand, we can transmit live images from an accident or from the middle of a protesting crowd or shoot a video during an earthquake, flood or other natural disaster or immediately after it. “A reporter specialized in online work needs to know how to harmoniously complement a text with sound, video, photos and graphics. Otherwise, it will disappear,” he added.

    Dumitru Ciorici invited the students to work alongside the AGORA reporters so they could to put into practice all they learned and to see an online news outlet “live.” Young people participated in the editorial meetings where, together with the editor-in-chief, they discussed and analyzed the topics that were to be realized. Some of the articles were published on the website www.agora.md.

    For example, the student Diana Petrușan was interested to find out what citizens think about the new coins of one, two, five and ten lei, which are to be put into circulation. Her colleague Alexandra Bodarev wrote about waves and potholes that appeared on Ștefan cel Mare și Sfânt Ave. less than a year after the repairs were completed. Elmira Orozova produced a material about “invisible zebra crossings” in Chisinau, and Andrei Cebotari wrote about the Law on 2% directed to NGOs.

    At the end of the course Dumitru Ciorici analyzed, together with the students, the most common journalists’ mistakes, explained to them how to best shoot a video for the Internet, how to write a good news story, which should be short and clear, and how to make the most original photos. Meanwhile, the students of the School of Advanced Journalism are having the last course of this academic year – Community Journalism.

Courses

Success stories

2013
“It is not at all a traditional school”
2008
“The SAJ was a challenge, but also a chance to get a new profession”
2017
“I’m proud of my first job and I like what I’m doing”