25 years of leadership and promotion of innovation in journalism
CIJ was created in 1994 as a forum for journalism professionals. It was an alternative school for many generations who wrote the history of mass media in Romania and the region, providing training and support for more than 15.000 professionals. It evolved as a space for collaboration and response to common challenges.
Together, we facilitated the creation and operationalization of the Convention of Media Organizations, we contributed to the elaboration, adoption and application of the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Interest 544/2001, to the legislation on institutional transparency, audiovisual, public procurement.
Since the early years, CIJ has implemented civic and human rights education, as well as media literacy projects, education now becoming one of our central concerns, with over 500 teachers and 20.000 students being direct beneficiaries of our programs.
In 2019 we have reached 25 years of accomplishments in working with media professionals, communicators, teachers, students, representatives of public institutions, in which CIJ evolved to serve a more diverse and inclusive community, that contributes to a more responsible society.
As we reflect on our highlights and achievements, we are enthusiastic to continue our mission to inspire and support innovation and excellence in journalism and media literacy in the coming years.
30 years of journalism in 13 images
by Dan Perjovschi
The fall of communism opened wide the dregs of freedom of expression. From one day to the next, dozens of publications have appeared or disappeared. The free press had the energy and rigor of a flock of sparrows.
In 1993, Evenimentul Zilei published what was going to be the “founding myth” of the Romanian tabloid: the hen who gives birth to live chickens. Along with the chicks, the legendary hen gave birth to the current of tabloidization.
The appearance of Pro Tv in 1995 changed the face of television in Romania: from the rhythm of the news, to the intonation of the voice, from threads to the haircut of the presenters. Television became the queen of media preferences and budget magnet advertising.
The period 2000-2004 remains in the memory of the press as “the Năstase era”. Intimidation of journalists, economic censorship, buying media businesses uder the party’s orders and the allocation of state advertising contracts with “the highest” signature were the most known instruments in the arsenal of the highly-placed of the times.
The early 2000s saw the birth of the first publication pure-blood online: Revista Presei, which was to become, in time, Hotnews.ro. It was the first publication exclusively conceived for the Internet, without the support of a traditional platform (printing, radio, TV).
Because, after the economic crisis, it’s more and more difficult for investigative journalism to find place in the pages and programs of the traditional media (out of prudence, obedience or actual lack of space), it chooses to fly and rise. The first independent investigative journalism projects appear, such as RISE Project or Centrul de Investigații Media.
One by one, journalists frustrated with how editorial compromises limit their ability to do press as they wish, “choose freedom”. Independent projects like Casa Jurnalistului, Dela0, Recorder or Inclusive are born. Others actually take their luggage and go – like Elena Stancu and Cosmin Bumbuț, who moved their house and newsroom into a minivan, with which they cross Europe in search of stories that deserve to be told.
The media sector received one of the hardest hits during the economic crisis. Advertising budgets, the free press oxygen source, were reduced to 50% of the previous values. Tens of media channels closed doors, especially in the local press. 7000 jobs in the press were lost during those years. Survival solutions included drastic reduction of newsrooms, affiliation to large national newsrooms (for radio and TV stations) and subordination of the editorial agenda to interests outside the editorial offices.
The year 2005 was the moment when the Romanian Internet ‘exploded’, the number of users doubling. Since then, the number of Internet users, connections and devices used for access it grew continuously. The online environment is becoming an important player in the advertising market, surpassing print and radio. Printed publications “migrate” online, some without finding their lost glory. On January 1st, 2020, Evenimentul Zilei will also become “digital only”.
They created a “public communication market”, in which all opinions really get the same value. Is it okay? Is it not? They have become an integral part of the media landscape, at the expense of traditional platforms.
They helped people get organized after the fire from Collective. They helped mobilization during the presidential elections in 2014 and have exposed the manipulations of some televisions. They have helped mobilize participants in the street protests and allowed the live tracking of authorities abuses.
In 2007, Romania joined the European Union in fireworks. In preparing for accession, the legislation has been adapted, the Penal Code has been cleansed by articles on insult and slander, the allocation of public money to advertising was regulated as public procurement. There have been attempts to return the times “before”. Still, with no success, yet.
From the 30 years of free press, CIJ has been with it 25. We have trained journalists, supported newsrooms, midwifed laws, participated in and facilitated coalitions of organizations. We upholded professional standards and looked to the future, to see what awaits us. We worked with journalists, students, teachers, civil servants, magistrates. In almost every sector of activity there is a “CJI alumnus”. And these were only the first 25 years…