The mission of the Independent Journalism Center, a nongovernment organization, is to facilitate the development of an informed society by strengthening a free and viable press, including new media, by means of projects that provide education in journalism and public relations, advocacy media campaigns, research, media literacy, and nonprofit journalistic products.
POLICY AND ADVOCACY
FOUNDERS ASSEMBLY AND ADMINISTRATION COUNCIL
In 2016, the Independent Journalism Center (IJC) adopted a new development strategy for 2016–2019 aimed at strengthening its role as a media organization promoting professional standards in media by focusing on the following four objectives:
- journalism training;
- policy and advocacy;
- media literacy;
- organizational development.
Journalism Training. The IJC provided various training opportunities in different subjects to all interested journalists including in professional ethics, access to information, human rights, and data journalism among others. In addition, the IJC organized the Annual Gala of the Press Club and other contests to reward and celebrate professional and balanced journalism. Other activities under training were the School of Advanced Journalism (SAJ) that trained 13 journalists in 2016 and the Media Azi portal that promoted journalistic integrity in its daily content.
Policy and advocacy. Through its campaigns, the IJC shed light on several problems affecting media including journalists' access to the plenary meeting hall of Parliament; the legal framework on access to information; concentrations in media ownership; and regulating advertising. As a consequence of these advocacy activities, in 2016 the press was granted free access to Parliament’s plenary meeting hall, and Parliament adopted in the first reading a draft law on improving the legal framework on access to information.
Media literacy. The IJC conducted several activities aimed at promoting critical thinking and the thoughtful consumption of media products by the public. For three consecutive years, the IJC has conducted media literacy lessons in schools and lyceums throughout the country. This year also saw the debut of the Mediacritica portal—a platform designed to fight propaganda and manipulation in media. The website contains studies and monitoring reports, analyses, and comments. A campaign on critical reading and a video clip were launched to encourage media consumers to diversify their sources of information and to think clearly and critically.
Organizational development. The IJC conducted various activities in line with its approved strategic plan.
In 2016 the IJC carried out several comprehensive programs aimed at strengthening journalists' professional skills in order to provide the public professional media content that abides by journalistic norms. In addition, the SAJ continued to train young journalists. The daily updated platform Media Azi was a precious resource for enhancing journalists' products.
· Training programs for journalists on various subjects
The first training program was organized on 12 February; it brought together 12 journalists from national and local media outlets and focused on the enforcement of the law on access to information. Program participants discussed legal issues that should be observed by professional journalists in their work and practical ways of obtaining information of public interest. They also learned how to write official inquiries. The program on implementing the law on access to information in journalism was moderated by Tatiana Puiu, media law expert, and Dumitru Lazur, journalist.
On 26 May, the IJC organized a training course for 13 media representatives across the country to improve their knowledge on human rights. Participants were informed about the situation in Moldova in the light of commitments by authorities within the international framework Universal Periodic Review.
Journalistic ethics were also among the training subjects covered in 2016. On 22 and 23 July, the IJC organized the training program Ethical Norms and Current Journalism Practices to teach journalists how to cover various sensitive topics and issues of public interest while observing ethical requirements and the principles of high-quality journalism. During the program, 15 participants learned about specific problematic aspects of their work related to deontology and ethical norms; experts helped them identify solutions.
A total of 34 participants including journalists working for local and national media, civic activists, and IT professionals took advantage of the data journalism training program Open Data for an Informed Public (Date deschise pentru un public informat). The program consisted of two modules, one on 2 and 3 November and one on 2 and 3 December(2–3 decembrie). Participants learned how to identify useful information in national databases, how to use search engines like Google/Hoover efficiently, and also how to find topics of public interest in open databases. The first training module was moderated by Alex Morega (Romanian Center for Investigative Journalism), a web developer involved in various aspects of data journalism, data visualization and online security projects, and Dumitru Lazu, an experienced journalist, RISE Moldova reporter, and specialist in investigations and inquiry reports. The second module was led by Dumitru Lazu and Anatoly Bondarenko, (Ukraine) co-founder of texty.org.ua, a platform combining classic and online journalism.
The training program on 8 and 9 December brought together 19 national media managers and 7 international experts. The aim was to analyze the current financial situation of media outlets and to suggest ways to overcome the financial difficulties they face. Participants and experts designed four business models targeting four types of media: online; print; national TV/radio; and regional TV/radio. International experts explained how particular business models work in various countries and highlighted the most important features of a business plan. The study Financial Sustainability of Media Institutions in the Republic of Moldova was launched during the program.
· Innovative training programs aimed at improving journalists' professional skills in new areas
To promote innovations in the production of professional media content, the IJC organized a series of activities as part of the project Strengthening Communications and Media Independence that was launched in December 2014), and ended in 2016.
Moldova Plus. This program offered eight multimedia packages created and disseminated during the project. In 2016, last three packages were launched between January and May and tackled the following topics: Small Businesses, Justice and Anticorruption, and Consumer Protection. The packages were produced by national project partners MeDiaLog and the New Media Project. The media content produced under this program was disseminated by 11 local press institutions and project partners including some from the Transnistrian region and UTA Gagauz-Yeri: Albasat (Nisporeni), ATV (Comrat), Bas TV (Basarabeasca), Cuvântul (Rezina), Dnestr TV (Bender), Flor TV (Florești), Gazeta de Sud (Cimișlia), Impuls TV (Șoldănești), Observatorul de Nord (Soroca), Pro Media (Cimișlia), and SP (Bălți). In turn, local partners created local content covering the same issues but focusing on local peculiarities and on the context of the communities they work in. Between January and August 2016, stories produced and aired by local partners were viewed 300,000 times.
In April, 12 project partners took advantage of training in visual journalism. The session was moderated by Russian expert Oleg Gant who introduced a series of tools to use with different media types. A significant part of the training was allocated to practice. Under Gant's guidance, journalists worked on stories they selected themselves and integrated visual elements to increase the content's attractiveness.
· Other activities
Drone journalism. The second stage of the contest of the Drone Journalism Workshop ended in March; the winning project was produced by the Agora team, Politicians' Shelter at the Expense of Moldovan Citizens. The contest was launched during the first workshop on media innovations that took placed in November 2015. It aimed to teach journalists new ways of producing high-quality content and to improve the interaction between media and the public.
IT internship and IT specialists. Between March and July, an IT specialist took an internship at the Observatorul de Nord newspaper. He assisted the editorial team in updating and diversifying their web platform thus ensuring a more dynamic interaction with their audience, including online readers.
Training activities were carried out as part of the following projects implemented by the IJC: Advocacy Campaigns Aimed at Improving Transparency of Media Ownership, Access to Information and Promotion of EU Values and Integration which is part of the project Partnerships for a Sustainable Civil Society in Moldova, (USAID), Promoting Media Literacy and Professional Standards in the Press for an Informed Public, (Civil Rights Defenders and Soros-Moldova Foundation/Mass Media Program), Improving the Media Law Environment in Moldova, (Civil Rights Defenders, Sweden), Strengthening Independent Media in Moldova (Internews), Strengthening the Financial Stability of Mass Media in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia using the Experience of V4 Countries (International Visegrad Fund and USAID), Professional media in practice – strengthening journalism students real life capacity (OSCE Mission in Moldova), Open Data for an Informed Public (Transitions Online with funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and the National Endowment for Democracy), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency/Embassy of Sweden in Chisinau.
- Contests for Journalists
The IJC organized the traditional Annual Gala of the Press Club to support and encourage efforts to produce high-quality journalism in line with professional standards. In October 2016, candidates were invited to submit their applications with stories they had produced and published between January and November 2016. When the deadline passed, IJC had received 63 applications. Winners were chosen through a complex assessment process according to regulations announced by the IJC in advance.
On 16 December, the best journalists of 2016 were announced at a public event:
- TV journalism: Eugenia Pogor, for the project Pur și simplu, Radio Free Europe.
- Radio journalism: Valentina Ursu, Radio Free Europe.
- Valeria Vițu, Radio France Internationale (RFI).
- Online journalism: Ana Sîrbu, Agora portal.
- Galina Vasilieva, NewsMaker portal.
- Investigative journalism: Iurie Sănduță, Rise Moldova.
- Anticorupție.md portal of the Center for Investigative Journalism.
- Photojournalism: Igor Rotari, Unimedia portal.
- Print press Sergiu Pascari, SP newspaper (Bălți).
Special awards included the following:
- Most promising journalist of the Year: Iurie Botnarenco, reporter for Adevărul newspaper (România).
- Best Blog: Gheorghe Erizanu, erizanu.cartier.md.
- Innovative Journalism: (media innovations) Agora portal.
- Best Media Campaign: Valentina Basiul for Through the eyes of the Press: Moldova—A quarter of century.
- Excellency: Contrafort magazine.
Two additional prizes were awarded:
- The National Award for Respecting Professional Ethics and Deontology in Journalism was awarded by the Press Council to the anticoruptie.md portal, a project of the Center for Investigative Journalism.
- The award for the best media project created by graduates of the School of Advanced Journalism was awarded to the website Oameni si Kilometri (People and Kilometers) for its articles on people in Moldova and their destinies.
The Annual Gala of the Press Club was organized with the financial support of the Swedish Agency for International Development and Cooperation through the Swedish Embassy in Chișinău. A general partner in the event was BC Moldova Agroindbank.
A contest organized by the IJC in May focused on human rights in Moldova in light of the commitments by authorities within the international framework Universal Periodic Review. A total of 12 journalists submitted 30 stories 2 of which won awards. This contest was organized with funding from Civil Rights Defenders.
· School of Advanced Journalism
Unlike other IJC departments, the SAJ operates according to the academic year cycle: the first stage is the second semester of study and the graduation of the current class while the second stage marks the beginning of the next study year.
Stage 1: January–July 2016. In 2016, the second semester started with the course Online Journalism (trainers: Liliana Barbăroșie, editor at Radio Free Europe and Moldova 1 and Tatiana Ețco, Radio Free Europe reporter). Students learned about special features of online journalism compared with other media and also how to write online stories. The next course was Media Management focusing on TV (trainer: Dorin Scobioală, CAT Studio director), radio (Valentin Niculescu, Radio Chișinău director), and newspapers (Elena Cobăsneanu, Director of Observatorul de Nord, Soroca). In addition, the course Media Project Management focusing on key stages in project management was offered for the first time (trainer: Ina Grejdeanu, Strategic Development Officer at IJC).
The advanced modules aimed at strengthening the knowledge and skills students gained during the first half of the academic year commenced with Economic Journalism (theory taught by Vladimir Bolea, businessman and expert in economics, and practice taught by economic journalist Anatol Câșlaru, editor at Publika TV). This was followed by Political Journalism which was divided into two modules: international (Sorina Ștefârță, SAJ director, editor of the supplement Obiectiv European) and interior (Alina Țurcanu, senior editor Radio Free Europe). For the first time, two days were exclusively dedicated to propaganda (Radu Magdin, political analyst, Director of SmartLink Communications in Romania). For a better understanding of internal and external political events, trainers invited several experts to participate in a discussion club with students: Victor Chirilă, Director of the Foreign Policy Association; Igor Munteanu, IDIS Viitorul Director and former ambassador to the United States; Igor Volnițchi, political consultant; and Iurie Ciocan, Head of the Central Electoral Commission.
Investigative Journalism followed (trainer Alina Radu, Director of Ziarul de Gardă newspaper). For three weeks, students researched and wrote their own investigations, met with experts in various fields, and visited different public institutions. The guest at the discussion club was Pavel Postică from Promo-LEX Association.
During the course Environmental Journalism (trainer Lilia Curchi, coordinating editor of Natura magazine and Executive Director of the Environment and Eco-Tourism Association of Journalists), students left the classroom and had the chance to look at the environment and environmental problems from a different perspective.
Social Journalism (trainer Vitalie Dogaru, Senior Editor at Publika TV) shed light on ordinary people, their lives, and the issues they struggle with. Students learned to tackle sensitive issues in an appropriate way. Thus, the discussion club during that course had a social bias hosting special guest Ian Feldman, Head of the Council for Prevention and Elimination of Discrimination and Ensuring Equality, and representatives from the Human Rights Institute.
The academic year 2015–2016 ended with two very practical courses. Community Journalism (trainer Petru Macovei, Director of the Association of Independent Press) took the students to Lozova, Strășeni where they conducted research for the community newspaper Lozova's Life (Viața Lozovei) that they later produced. The course Digital Journalism was held for the first time at the SAJ and encompassed an exercise in an online newsroom (trainer Dumitru Ciorici, co-founder of portals www.unimedia.md and www.agora.md).
Stage II: September–December 2016. The 11th study year of the school commenced on 1 September with the introductory courses. The first was Introduction to Journalism (trainer: Sorina Ștefârță) followed by the Role of Caricature in the Press led by artist Filip Cebotari which addressed the power of drawings in the press and the freedom of expression and its limits.
The first semester was dedicated to courses that taught students step by step to produce stories of various types. In News Story (trainer Diana Răileanu, Radio Free Europe reporter and Elena Robu, PRO TV Chișinău editor), students learned to answer six basic questions for a news item and to work with sources. In Photojournalism (trainer Nicolae Pojoga, Senior lecturer at the Arts Academy of Moldova), students discovered the technical and content-related secrets of a successful photo. Magazine Journalism (trainer: Ludmila Andronic, communication expert and chair of the Press Council in Moldova) was held for the first time at SAJ. Ms Andronic explained the differences between a newspaper and a magazine, the nature of a brand, and how to create a magazine. During the Interview course (trainer: Vitalie Dogaru), students improvised interviews in the classrooms and on site. The skills they acquired were then successfully applied in the course Long Articles (trainer Alina Radu) in which students produced a report, a feature, and an obituary.
The semester continued with two essential courses for the professional training of future journalists: Media Law (trainer Tatiana Puiu, lawyer specializing in media issues) and Media Ethics and Diversity (trainer: Nadine Gogu, IJC Director). For a better understanding of diversity, Angelica Frolov, Lobby and Advocacy Program Coordinator at the GENDERDOC-M Center, was invited to talk about the rights of LGBT persons and ways to avoid discriminatory terminology. In parallel, two of the most difficult SAJ courses were held: Radio Journalism (trainers: Diana Răileanu, Radio Free Europe, Liliana Nicolae, reporter and editor at Europa FM Bucharest, and Vasile Botnaru, Director Radio Free Europe Moldova) and TV Journalism. Both courses were preceded by technical components (trainers: Sergiu Tudos, technical engineer at Radio Free Europe, and Denis Rusu, producer in the IJC Campaigns and Production Department). In addition, both courses had an introductory period and a newsroom module (four days for radio and six days for TV) during which students worked in a newsroom environment and produced newscasts. The first semester ended with Visual Journalism which continued into the second semester.
Extracurricular/visibility activities. Apart from their basic courses, from September to December 2016 students had two hours weeky of Romanian stylistics (trainer: linguist Cristina Mogâldea), and 11 students attended free of charge two cycles of English language courses at a school for foreign languages in Chisinau. In addition, for the fourth year in a row the Data Journalism Workshop was organized in November. For 3 days, 15 students learned how to use open government data and to identify ideas for investigations. Students were coached by Daniel Bojin, journalist at the RISE project Romania and by Dumitru Lazu, reporter at RISE Moldova.
Discussion clubs were held both as part of the courses and beyond the curriculum. In October students met political analyst Iulian Chifu, Director of the Center for Conflict Prevention and Early Warning in Bucharest, and talked about defense and security, including about NATO's role in this context. At the end of November, students met with Valentina Basiul, reporter at Radio Free Europe and author of the book Through the eyes of Press: Moldova—A Quarter of a Century, which is a history of the past 25 years of the country as seen by the press.
Also in the autumn of 2016, SAJ students went on a study visit to Bucharest where they saw for themselves how several important media outlets operate. The visit was short but very intense with eight public and private media outlets on the agenda.
Given that 2016 was tenth anniversary of the SAJ, on 30 September representatives from all ten graduating classes came together at the conference Independent Journalism: Challenges of Today and Perspectives of Tomorrow. The students were joined by local trainers and special guests from abroad—Steven Knowlton (Ireland), Petru Clej (Great Britain), and Lina Vdovîi (Romania)—and discussed the evolution of journalism in Moldova over the past 10 years and chances for the survival of the independent press worldwide.
To increase SAJ’s visibility, the IJC launched a contest for the best media project created by SAJ graduates with a prize of 750 euros thus supporting the independent media environment in Moldova The winner was announced on 16 December at the Annual Gala of the Press Club: a team of three SAJ graduates (Polina Cupcea and Raisa Răzmeriță/2013, and Nicolae Cușchevici/2008) who started the website Oameni și Kilometri (People and Kilometers). It was the most innovative and practical idea of 2016.
It is noteworthy that SAJ follows the professional paths of its graduates and communicates with them. Thus, on Facebook (Facebook) we place useful information (employment opportunities, calls for internships, etc.) for all graduates, and success stories about graduates are regularly published on the school's webpage http://www.scoaladejurnalism.md and on its Facebook page . These two platforms also serve as the main tools for informing the public about the school’s daily activities. De facto, SAJ graduates are the school's business card, and their success stories serve as inspiration for future students; 2016 was not an exception in this regard. On 13 December 2015, graduates Anastasia Cucuruz and Ghenadie Brega won third prize in the contest for the best journalistic investigation on corruption with their article Gas (In)dependence of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, written in cooperation with Elena Cernîșova, a journalist from Ukraine. On 16 December Iurii Botnarenco, a 2016 graduate and reporter in Moldova for Adevărul in Bucharest won the special award Most Promising Journalist of the Year 2016 (laureatul Premiului special Speranța Anului 2016) at the Press Gala.
Graduation/admission. The SAJ offers a professional training program lasting ten months, so while students in academic year 2015–2016 were getting ready for graduation, the admission campaign for the upcoming year was in full play. Traditionally, graduation has been preceded by Career Days when SAJ hosts managers from various media outlets who tell students about the specific features of the institutions they manage and possible employment opportunities. After that, students are busy preparing final projects under their mentors’ supervision applying all the knowledge they have gained. Of the 14 graduates in 2016, 4 prepared TV reports, 5 online stories, 4 newspaper reports, and 1 produced a radio report.). These were presented at a public event on 26 and 27 May in front of a committee of media experts and practitioners. Then, the students had one-month internships at various newsrooms across the capital after which they received their study certificates on 30 June.
The SAJ admissions campaign started in February with the admissions caravan. Staff went to universities in Comrat and Bălți and to several in Chisinau (unele universități din Chișinău) to tell students about the benefits of enrolling in SAJ. (Recepționarea dosarelor). The call for applications came in the middle of March and was held in two rounds ending on 30 June. Additionally, a new video spot promoting SAJ was launched. In total, 25 applications were submitted. After interviewing and testing, 14 students were enrolled for the academic year 2016–2017. They hold undergraduate degrees in journalism and communication sciences, law, international relations, history and psychology, Romanian language, land registry, geology and construction, finances and banks, and economics and business. In the first week, two students decided to abandon their studies, so the SAJ announced two NED scholarships that were quickly filled.
Challenges and perspectives. One challenge in 2017 is to revise the curriculum. For this purpose, in the autumn of 2016 an expert from the US assessed the current curriculum of the school. Based on her findings and suggestions, the curriculum will be adjusted according to the new requirements of modern journalism. This is scheduled for the first half of the year, so academic year 2017–2018 will start with the new SAJ curriculum.
· Media Azi Portal
The Media Azi portal is another IJC tool to enhance media professionalism. By updating diverse content on a daily basis—topical stories, commentaries, analyses, interviews and other media output—the IJC aims to inform journalists and to promote the norms and values of professional integrity in the journalism environment. Most stories were news items on the most important events in national and international media and on problems faced by the Moldovan press in 2016. Up-to-date information on media developments and events was complemented by analytical stories and commentaries that investigated the main media issues in depth. Thus in 2016, 24 commentaries were published on Media Azi in which authors tackled various issues including protecting the national information space from propaganda, observing ethical standards, trolling, limiting the freedom of expression proposed in several law drafts, the new draft of the Broadcasting Code, the need for tougher sanctions against broadcasters breaking the law, regulating the Internet as a tool for manipulation, political interference in the work of the Coordinating Council for Broadcasting, and media behavior during the election campaign. Media experts and experienced journalists, opinion leaders, and reputable persons in journalism authored these stories that had a high impact on the public as overall the commentaries had over 15,000 views.
Also in 2016, the new interview section MediaRing appeared. Journalists working for various media outlets, experts, and ordinary media consumers prepare questions for this section, and guest speakers—public persons, officials dealing with media, European experts, foreign ambassadors to Moldova—are invited to provide answers. From February to December, 21 media-related guests were invited to MediaRing including Vladimir Hotineanu, Head of the Parliamentary Committee on Culture, Education, Research, Youth, Sports, and Mass Media; Dinu Ciocan, Head of the Coordinating Council for Broadcasting; Doina Deleu, Head of the Supervisory Board of public broadcaster Teleradio-Moldova; and Alexandru Canțîr, editor, presenter, and senior TV editor at Radio Free Europe among others. Journalists were very interested in the European officials invited to MediaRing such as EU Ambassador to Moldova Pirkka Tapiola who is Head of the EU Delegation to Moldova; Dunja Mijatović, OSCE Representative on Press Freedom; and Signe Burgstaller, Swedish Ambassador to Moldova. Overall, MediaRing guests were asked and answered more than 400 questions; the program registered 25,000 views.
In the first 10 months of 2016, Media Azi had 135,561 views, 54,422 of which were unique. The editorial team coordinated the production of two issues of the magazine Mass Media in Moldova (June and December) that tackled pressing issues in the field. The magazine is an important resource for training journalists and for enhancing their careers.
Results in 2016
· In all, 105 journalists took advantage of IJC training programs.
· The SAJ graduated 13 young journalists.
· A total of 75 journalists took part in contests launched by the ICJ.
· The Media Azi portal, a valuable resource for journalists' training and career enhancement, was updated daily.
In 2016, the IJC both continued with advocacy campaigns it started in 2015 and started several new campaigns aimed at shedding light on media-related issues or issues that could be solved through media. Advocacy activities also aimed to capture the attention or enhance the accountability of officials on the way certain media-related laws are implemented. Two campaigns specifically targeted draft laws included in the new IJC strategy: access to information and regulating advertising.
· We Want Access to Parliament!
In 2016, the IJC conducted the campaign We Want Access to Parliament! to increase MPs' awareness of journalists' restricted access to plenary sessions. On 3 March, the IJC organized an unusual protest in Parliament during which several civil society and media representatives entered the plenary meeting hall and demanded that MPs ensure the free access of accredited journalists (reporters and cameramen) to plenary sessions. At the meeting of the Permanent Bureau that was urgently convened thereafter, it was decided to create a mixed committee of MPs, civil society, and media representatives to find technical solutions for press access. Meanwhile, the IJC organized five protest actions in Parliament. On 13 April after several meetings coordinated by the IJC, the Permanent Bureau accepted all the proposals and recommendations put forward by media and civil society representatives in the discussions of the joint working group and allowed cameramen to enter the plenary meeting hall of Parliament.
· Better laws for journalists result in better informed citizens
In 2016, the IJC continued its advocacy campaign to improve the legal framework on access to information by conducting several activities aimed at drawing officials' and journalists' attention to media issues. On 19 February, the IJC presented Parliament with a set of proposals to amend Law No 982-XIV of 11 May 2000 on access to information (articles 5, 6, 15, 16 and 17) and the Contravention Code of Republic of Moldova No 218-XVI of 28 October 2008 (Article 71). The draft law aims to facilitate and improve procedures for registering inquiries for access to information, to shorten the response time, and to enhance the punishment for breaking the law. On 11 March, the bill was registered by a group of unaffiliated MPs, and on 28 July, Parliament adopted the bill on the first reading.
During the campaign, the IJC also launched a petition demanding Parliamentary leadership in completing actions for the final approval of this draft law. The petition was submitted to Parliament in October. On 17 November, Parliament adopted a draft law on the amendment to Article 71 of the Contravention Code establishing larger fines for breaking the law on access to information. The document was prepared by IJC experts and is part of the same campaign.
· Stop Concentration
In February, the IJC resumed its work on the issue of concentration of media ownership by launching the Stop Concentrations campaign. Journalists and media experts were supposed to identity shortcomings in media legislation and any necessary actions to be taken by decision makers to avoid media concentrations and to ensure diversity in media ownership.
On 19 April, the IJC organized a public debate titled Reduction of Concentrations in Ownership in Mass Media: Recommendations by the EU and Civil Society. Representatives from the President’s office, Parliament, and the government; members of the Parliamentary Commission for Mass Media; the Coordinating Council for Broadcasting and the Competition Council; media experts, publishers, and journalists from local and national outlets; and other participants in the public debate discussed possible solutions to reduce concentrations. In this context, they analyzed the conclusions of the Council of the EU on this issue as well as other relevant recommendations that appear in the Moldova-EU Association Agreement and in other international documents.
· Advocacy actions for press freedom (Press Freedom Days 2016)
On 3 May, the IJC together with other media organizations held a press conference to open Press Freedom Days 2016, an event celebrated annually every May. In keeping with tradition, the IJC publicly presented the Memorandum on Press Freedom in Moldova from May 2015 to May 2016. Both traditional and new events were on the agenda.
On 11 May 2016, IJC launched the second edition of the Board of Shame: Enemies of the Press. The board was placed in front of the parliament building as a sign of protest against the attempts to limit freedom of expression by certain politicians, MPs, and officials that hampered journalists' work from 3 May 2015 to 3 May 2016. Persons on the Board of Shame were the main characters under the rubric Press Enemies of the Media Azi portal. The purpose was to make officials aware that a free press works pursuant to European standards and values that ought to be observed not only by media representatives but also by authorities.
Among other events organized by the IJC during Press Freedom Days was the Press Solidarity March, a new event. Over 100 journalists from various national and local media outlets participated on 12 May. This event reminded officials about the issues journalists and the media face and their demands that they be resolved.
· Legal assistance
The IJC provides free legal assistance to journalists, media organizations, and others that face media-law related issues; these efforts aim both to protect press freedom and journalists' rights to do their work. In 2016, the legal department provided consultancies to 22 persons and legal representation in court in 3 cases. To enhance journalists' knowledge of media law, the IJC produced and disseminated six legal bulletins that contained a summary of laws and amendments to current laws and information about recent European Court of Human Rights case law on access to information and freedom of expression. All bulletins are available on the IJC webpage.
In addition, the IJC issued statements responding to cases of intimidation of journalists and to draft laws that hamper press freedom. In 2016, X statements were issued.
· Campaign on improving the legal framework regulating advertising
At a public debate on 10 November during the first stage of this campaign, the IJC launched the study Evaluation of the Legal Framework Regulating Advertising and Recommendations on its Optimization. Based on this study, recommendations for amending the law or even for drafting a new bill will be prepared.
· Campaign on the prevention of discrimination
In 2016 the IJC carried out a complex campaign against discrimination that included several informative and awareness raising activities including the dissemination of the documentary Paying for Discrimination which provides citizens with detailed information on ways to protect their rights when they are discriminated against or are at risk of discrimination. In it, several human rights experts explain what discrimination is and provide recommendations for citizens on how to deal with it. Based on the documentary, 10 success stories were prepared about members of minority communities (video story) who tell about their experiences in preventing discrimination to encourage persons not to tolerate violations of their rights and to act. The IJC encouraged professional coverage and posted the stories on www.media-azi.md with Russian translations.
The campaigns were conducted with funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Swedish Agency for International Development and Cooperation through the Swedish Embassy in Chișinău, and UNDP Chișinău. Legal assistance was provided under the project Improving the Media Law Environment in Moldova funded by Civil Rights Defenders (Sweden).
In 2016, the IJC strengthened its production capacity and launched various videos that added value to advocacy activities. The documentary Moldova between Two Worlds is about foreign policy from independence until the present and covers historical stages and contexts that have generated evolution or innovations in foreign policy.
· Launch of multimedia platform moldova-azi.md
The IJC launched the portal Moldova-azi.md, a resource hosting all the video materials produced to date by the Campaigns and Production Department to facilitate the access of media consumers and journalists. The website is divided into five sections: Talk Shows, Debates, Documentaries, Spots, and About Us. Users can access any of these materials including Press ABC tutorials.
· Monitoring Mass media during the election campaign
From 15 September to 13 November, the IJC in partnership with the Association of the Independent Press monitored media output during the presidential election campaign. Overall, 28 media institutions were monitored: 12 TV stations, 12 online portals and 4 newspapers. Seven monitoring reports were released containing findings and recommendations, and a final report was prepared at the end of the monitoring period. The experts found that most media institutions failed to comply with professional standards and to inform citizens objectively.
The monitoring was conducted with funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (USA) and the Council of Europe.
· Press Clubs meetings
Traditionally, journalists, representatives from local and central public authorities, lawyers, and media experts have attended Press Club meetings to discuss relevant issues for the media; in 2016 five meetings and one informal discussion were held. Women's representation in politics was the subject of the meeting on 29 March 2016 that included 20 participants; MPs, civil society activists, and journalists attended the event. Another Press Club meeting took place on 26 April 2016. Civil society representatives and national and international officials in the field of human rights talked with journalists from various media outlets about serious issues of protection in Moldova. In all, 25 participants attended the event which was related to the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of the human rights situation in Moldova.
During the meeting on 18 August 2016, participants discussed how to use the diaspora's potential and what the role of government, the press, and civil society is in this process. The event took place on the eve of Diaspora Day and brought together representatives of the International Organization for Migration mission to Moldova, the Bureau for Diaspora Relations, and diaspora members who have been living abroad for a long time. Over 20 journalists attended. Moldovans living abroad concluded they could see improvements in the country.
That the educational system in Moldova, unemployment, and the rural employment rate were matters of concern was the conclusion of the Press Club meeting on 22 September 2016. The event focused on rural employment in Moldova and was attended by local and central authorities, experts, and local businessmen.
On 16 November 2016, the Press Club tackled the issue of access to buildings by persons with special needs and the compliance of Moldovan buildings with international standards. They concluded that most buildings in Moldova do not have an access ramp—a true challenge for parents with baby strollers, elderly people, and persons with physical disabilities.
In addition to the above, UN and IJC representatives, UN Gala laureates, media managers, and journalists from various press institutions held an informal meeting. The main subject of discussion was the success of the UN Human Rights Gala winners and achievements in the field in 2016.
The event was organized with the support of United Nations Organization in Moldova.
Results in 2016
· The IJC successfully completed one advocacy campaign and conducted several others.
· Several activities as part of the IJC campaign to improve the legal framework on access to information were conducted and achieved initially positive results.
· The IJC launched a campaign on improving the legal framework regulating advertising.
· The IJC conducted three advocacy activities targeting parliamentary representatives.
· The Press Solidarity March was added to IJC events on Press Freedom Days; more than100 journalists from various national and local media outlets participated.
· Over 10 media institutions participated in advocacy activities carried out by IJC.
· The IJC submitted two petitions to Parliament.
In 2016, the IJC diversified its range of activities promoting media literacy education and critical thinking among media consumers.
· Media literacy lessons
The IJC continued organizing media literacy lessons for secondary and high school students in various educational institutions across the country. During these lessons,
students learned how media works, media's role in society, and what rules to observe when writing a news item. Lessons were moderated by journalists with wide professional experience in analyzing manipulation and propaganda: Liliana Barbăroșie and Diana Răileanu of Radio Free Europe, Viorica Zaharia at the anticorupție.md portal and current head of the Press Council, and IJC Director Nadine Gogu. To enhance their understanding of how to select information sources, beneficiaries watched several video spots produced by the IJC. In total, 22 lessons for 657 students in Chișinău, Drochia, Fălești, Ștefan Vodă, Rezina, Glodeni, Gotești, Ungheni, Ialoveni, Telenești, Cimișlia, and Giurgiulești were held.
The lessons were organized as part of the project Promoting Media Literacy Education and Professional Standards in the Press for an Informed Public implemented with funding from the Soros-Moldova/Mass Media Program and from Civil Rights Defenders (Sweden), an IJC partner.
· European Café
The two final activities in the European Café series took place in Soroca and in Bălți. In March in Soroca, 30 young people discussed the EU response to the refugee crisis and media's role in this process with experts. In Bălți, students from Alecu Russo University discussed media education and its role in combatting propaganda and manipulation. Keynote speakers were Ion Terguță, media expert; Ivan Sveatcenko, Deputy Editor in Chief of the portal NewsMaker.md; Olga Bulat, reporter from Ziarul de Gardă; and Ruslan Mihailevschi, Editor in Chief at SP in Bălți.
Promotional and information activities
· Mediacritica portal
In March 2016, the IJC launched the Mediacritica portal, a new online resource aimed at combatting propaganda and manipulation in the press and in developing critical thinking among media consumers in Moldova. The portal is bilingual and contains five sections: Filter Information! (Filtrează informația!), Actions (Acțiuni), Media in the Spotlight (Media în vizor), Observer (Observator), and Press ABCs (ABC-ul presei).
Actions presents events organized by the IJC and its partners the Independent Press Association (AIP) and the Association of Independent TV Journalists under the project Media Campaigns against False and Biased Information. A total of 80 stories were produced in this section. Media in the Spotlight contained examples of news items that ignored the guidelines in the Guide to Ethical Norms and Other Journalistic Standards; 23 stories were produced in this section. In Observer, several case studies and analyses were produced by various media experts. Most tackled manipulation and propaganda issues revealing the techniques used by journalists in covering social and political subjects. A total of 70 stories appeared in this section. Press ABCs was a specialized dictionary containing videos and articles on how media works and what principles it is based on and included 19 videos. In all, 320 stories were posted on Mediacritica.md. From March to December 2016, Mediacritica.md had 38,735 views and 9609 unique users, so on average there were 4000 views per month.
Along with Mediacritica.md, The Press and I game was launched. It is an interactive game testing people's knowledge about media. So far, the game has been viewed 1291 times by 191 unique users.
- Campaign Think Clearly (Gândește limpede)
To promote the critical consumption of media products, the IJC launched the campaign Think Clearly in two stages: one in March and one in September 2016. A total of 32 journalists, bloggers, activists and actors encouraged media consumers in Moldova to be vigilant when watching, listening to, or reading a news item. It was promoted intensively on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Odnoklassniki); on Mediacritia.md it had over 10,000 views.
The IJC also launched a video spot encouraging media consumers to diversify their sources of information as the only way to get an accurate view of reality.
Mediacritia.md was created as part of the media campaign against false and biased information conducted by AIP, IJC and the VIP Association of Independent TV Journalists in Moldova. This information campaign was possible due to the generous support of the American people offered through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) under the FHI 360 Program Partnerships for a Sustainable Civil Society in Moldova.
· TV Show Media Azi
In May during Press Freedom Days, the IJC launched the TV show Media Azi. This weekly program presents current problems faced by journalists working for national media and identifies solutions for them. Another purpose of this TV show is to enhance media consumers' understanding about the particulars of media work so they can be more critical of media output and reduce the risks of misinformation and manipulation. In 2016, the IJC produced 28 TV programs available at www.moldova-azi.md and also on www.mediacritica.md.
· Media hackathon The Fifth Power
From 1 to 3 July, the IJC organized the second edition of the media hackathon The Fifth Power in which participants developed project ideas and applications to promote media literacy. In total, 80 participants from Moldova, 5 from Ukraine, 4 from Georgia and 1 from Armenia participated in the event. Bloggers, IT specialists, journalists, designers, civil society activists, and media consumers were involved
During these three days, teams worked on apps that could enable media consumers to filter information and to identify manipulation. Participants were assisted by national and international experts through presentations and master classes on media literacy, propaganda, and tools for preventing propaganda among others. In the end, the three teams with the highest scores won awards of 2000 euros to implement their ideas.
· DIY (Do It Yourself) News enables any Internet user to create his/her own video news report, but the option is available only by answering correctly the six basic questions for a news story.
· Trolless is an application that identifies fake accounts—so called trolls—on social networks by installing a special plug-in.
· The Caucasus Hack Pack (Georgia and Armenia) is an interactive game to help pupils identify manipulation and to think critically. Teachers test students' knowledge before and after using the application that teaches them how to identify manipulative photos and videos and to test source credibility.
· Campaign promoting curricula in schools
On 23 June, the IJC organized a round table bringing together representatives of the Ministry of Education and regional education departments, high school teachers, and media experts and launched the study Development of Media Literacy through Appropriate Media Education. In addition, the IJC created a working group that developed curricula for primary schools.
These activities were conducted as part of the project Strengthening Freedom of Expression in the Republic of Moldova implemented by the Independent Journalism Center with the support of Deutsche Welle Akademie and funds from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
· Monitoring studies and reports
The IJC commissioned two opinion polls measuring audience perceptions of false and biased social and political news. According to the findings in the first opinion poll conducted between 27 January and 1 February 2016, 51% of respondents believed they could recognize a manipulative or propagandistic story whereas 47% of respondents felt they lacked the knowledge to do so. The findings of the second poll conducted from 1 to 18 September revealed that 60% of media consumers in Moldova were endowed with skills to identify manipulation and propaganda in social and political reports.
To identify conscious and unconscious mistakes made by journalists when covering facts and to increase media consumers’ vigilance regarding doubtful information sources, in 2016 the IJC monitored 12 media institutions with national coverage that produced content in Romanian and Russian including news portals and the online content of weekly publications and TV stations. Three quarterly monitoring reports were produced. All three reports are available in Romanian, Russian and English on Mediacritica.md and Media-Azi.md.
The studies were created in the framework of the media campaign against false and biased information conducted by AIP, IJC and the VIP Association of Independent TV Journalists in Moldova. This information campaign was possible due to the generous support of the American people offered through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) under the FHI 360 Program Partnerships for a Sustainable Civil Society in Moldova.
Results in 2016
· The www.mediacritica.md platform fostering critical thinking and aiming to prevent manipulation became available for media; over 230 reports were posted on this platform.
· More than 650 students were introduced to media literacy in 22 classes organized.
· A total of 27 TV shows aimed at enhancing consumers' understanding of the specifics of media work were produced and disseminated.
· One hackathon aimed at promoting media literacy education was organized.
· Two promotional campaigns on media education were conducted.
· Two opinion polls and three monitoring reports were launched.
Organizational development is the fourth strategic objective in the new IJC development strategy for 2016–2019. Several policies developed with expert assistance in 2015 were implemented in 2016. In addition, in 2016 several members of the IJC team participated in various training programs on project management, fundraising, communication, and public relations.
- Angela Sîrbu
- Corina Cepoi
- Alexandru Canţîr
- Nicolae Negru
- Ion Terguță
- Alina Țurcanu
- Rodica Mahu
- Igor Cașu
- Dumitru Ciorici
- Mihail Sirkeli
- Ruslan Mihalevschi
- Vadim Șterbate
- Liudmila Topal
Strategic Development Officer
Head of the Training and Communication Department
Program Coordinator of the Training and Communication Department
Assistant Coordinator of the Training and Communication Department
Program Coordinator of the Training and Communication Department
Program Coordinator of the Legal Department
reporter for www.media-azi.md
Editor of the portal www.media-azi.md
Coordinator for the School of Advanced Journalism
Director of the School of Advanced Journalism
Tamara Camerzan/ Elena Ciumac
Technical Resource Center
Mihai Grosu/Dumitru Cernei