What Romanian media need: educated public, strong professionals, responsible politicians

Policies for free and independent media in Romania were the core topic of the workshop organised on 26 November 2012 by the Hertie School of Governance (Berlin) in cooperation with the Romanian Academic Society and the Center for Independent Journalism in Bucharest, ambulance Romania.

MEDIADEM researchers Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, find Ioana Av?dani and Cristian Ghinea presented the policy paper produced as part of the project. Among the proposed policies were developing a comprehensive strategy for promoting broad access to information for the public; striking a fair balance between public and commercial broadcasters; and increasing the transparency of, and democratic participation in, consultations on draft media legislation.

The participants – representatives of the public authorities (the Presidency and the Audiovisual Council), the public media, journalists and NGO activists – agreed that the main priority in Romania is increasing the public’s media literacy. Without an educated public, able to critically evaluate editorial content, the down-spiraling of the media cannot be stopped.

The situation of the public media also stirred heated debate. Participants agreed that it is of utmost importance to rapidly eliminate political control over the public media (especially over the public television). Free and strong public media could also play an important role in promoting the much needed media literacy.

The credibility crisis that affects the journalistic profession was another topic that received attention. The journalists’ reaction to pressures coming from both outside and inside the newsroom has been weak and has made them lost control over the profession. To correct this situation, the self-regulation process should re-start, with the direct participation of the persons in charge of editorial control.

Part of the problems faced by the Romanian media can be solved only via honest and balanced intervention of state actors, called upon to formulate and apply clear and predictable media policies. The final decision lies inevitably with the political actors, which makes it necessary for the political class to embrace and renew their commitment to the principle of media freedom and independence. Since in Romania the most efficient instrument to promote this principle has been pressure from the European Union, participants agreed that a pan-European approach for the promotion of free and independent media is necessary.

The agenda is available here (in English).

 For more information you may contact Ioana Av?dani.