< Imprimare >      ZIUA - ENGLISH - sambata, 3 iunie 2006


The press of oligarchs

Just like he has done before, Ovidiu Nahoi uses his article in Evenimentul Zilei daily to develop upon the fate of Romanian journalists different from the ones working for newspaper I have just mentioned. But the issue he takes up is very exciting: the way Romanian oligarchs take over the independent press. In order to lead his demonstration to the destination he pleases - Romania lacks consolidated media institutions, apart from Evenimentul Zilei, of course - he comes with the following allegation: " None of those who founded press monuments in the early 90s, Cristoiu, Rosca Stanescu, Nistorescu, the founders of Adevarul and Romania libera dailies, the inventors of Catavencu Academy and so on, has managed to built at least one media institution able to resist to more or less hostile taking over." I can't tell whether this is somehow ironical or not. But it certainly can open serious dialogue. Is our press oligarchic or not? How free are we to do our job?

I am not insisting on the status of the publication due to which Ovidiu Nahoi dares judge the other dailies, not belonging to the Ringier Company, as if Ringier himself was not a press magnate as well, much more powerful than the Romanian ones. Among the latter Nahoi includes Dan Voiculescu, Adrian Sarbu and Sorin Ovidiu Vantu. What is true and what is false in the above-mentioned statement?

We have had new press in Romania since December 22, 1989. It is fundamentally different from the press controlled by the Communist Party. Apart from the enthusiasm at the emergence of this new universe for the freedom of expression, it is but natural that there should be much amateurishness in the Romanian press. Very few of the professional journalists out there in December 1989 managed to stand out the minute the free competition started. Most of them quitted. But there are even fewer who managed to become powerful voices and build media institutions too. The struggle was very tough, but it was also unbelievably attractive. At least seemingly, everything was created out of nothing: teams of college students and even high schools students who became real stars of Romanian television, radio and newspapers 16 years later. These people learnt how to do their job in the making and at great speed. Hence the unavoidable flaws. The press such as it is, both central and local, with weaknesses and strong points, has always been in the avangarde of Romania's modernization. It has been at endless war not only with what has to be dismembered to make room for democratic institutions, but also with politicians and especially with politicians in power or grouped around Presidency. Apart from the fight against corruption, which is first of all of political nature, the really free press has censored and will always censor the officials in power, no matter their names: Iliescu, Constantinescu, Basescu, Roman, Stolojan, Vacaroiu, Ciorbea, Vasile, Isarescu, Nastase or Tariceanu. Obedient press has in its turn done the other way around: attacks against the opposition, in terms of the rulers' interests. The best-known and appreciated Romanian journalists are in the first category. The frustrated and the losers are in the second. They are in polemical dialogue, whether explicit or not, polite or rude, under various pretexts. But let me explain the title now.

In all the press organizations I have worked for in these 16 years I have tried to explain that one of the main criteria for the efficiency of Romanian press is the economic one, apart from professionalism, moral sense and courage. Romanian is a country in transition with poor standards of living. From the very beginning there should have been settled some rules to stimulate press business. In other words, we should have assimilated the most generous rules of the kind in Europe. They settle numberless facilities, also on finance, but no alms or electoral bargains, in order to stimulate and facilitate the free circulation of information. To whose advantage? To the advantage of their own citizens, but not of politicians or illegitimate groups. As for Romania, the political class has resisted it relentlessly and constantly. I would even say terribly. Politicians wanted and still want the press to fail in getting profit great enough to enter competition along with the great European press. But who was the rulers' scum? Who is the fifth line sneaking in the press? Who did the magnates or the so-called oligarchs emerge? What are they after? I will try some answers in next Monday's editorial.

Sorin Rosca Stanescu

Articol disponibil la adresa http://www.ziua.net/display.php?id=200929&data=2006-06-03