On camera, man reads from newspapers

Mircea Badea I have been home now for almost two weeks but have yet to really tackle Romanian news media. This post will kick off that assignment. It’s a struggle my friends, but someone has to stare the devil in the face.

Let’s start with that broadcast phenomenon of the “newspaper review” or “newspaper medley” (although a more appropriate name would be “imbecile on camera reads from newspapers creating hours of horrendous television”).

You see, newspapers in most of Europe still have a mythical quality to them that televison was unable to supplant–they are seen as the only ones able to understand the world we live in. Newsgathering is almost universally stronger in the realm of print, but broadcast is rarelly as enslaved by the printed word as it is in the Old Word and certainly in language-obsessed Romania.

After all, the printed word started and stopped wars, fueled revolutions and toppled governments. If you don’t believe that, you are probably a spy, a government worker or some sort of minority interest group that aims to subvert the national campaign for greatness.

That’s the context to why print is thought as being the media messiah. That and the great Romanian protest chant “Cu televizorul ati mintit poporul” (With TV you’ve lied to the people).

Romanian-language TV stations (Plenty of them exist today) pay their dues to King Print daily–sometimes for hours at the time. Mircea Badea, whom you see in the picture above, spends an hour every night scanning the papers. He has them stacked on his table and he reads from them. Surely that alone would be boring, so the show gets its spice from Badea peppering it with “truth telling.” He is there to decode news for the unsuspecting viewer and, more often than not, to trash the newspapers that allow him to do this job. Isn’t that ironic?

Most others add less commentary. The Romanian 24-hour news channels (three of them today) dutifuly take people through the newspapers–reading headlines, story fragments and telling people where to go to get the whole thing. These wonderful segments are illustrated with shots of said newspaper or story. My favorite feature is the panning down (or across) the page so the viewer can read the story on her television screen.

I remember American news photographers and how they hated taking pictures of signs. “I don’t photograph words,” some would say. On Romanian television, the opposite is true. Since words are so much better than images, broadcast spends hours zooming in on the almighty newspaper pages.

Why hours? Well, there are a couple dozen papers in Romania with national reach. Local print news, for the most part, is underfunded and really awful, so the fight to inform the people happens at the national level. Actually, this would make getting on television much easier. Just make sure you are the reporter assigned to something that lands on the front page–like the prime minister chrashing his motorcycle–and you’re the talk of the TV shows baby!

They might even zoom in on your byline. Talk about name recognition.

2 Responses to “On camera, man reads from newspapers”

  1. HAHAHAHAHAHHAHA. I love the idea that newspapers are read on the air. There’s a local FOX news station here (out of Fort Myers) that ALWAYS does stories from the local paper, the News Press (they must have some special arrangement) where they will show you the story and zoom in on it several times. I’ve always thought that was so funny.

  2. Soma .. that is no imbecil … he’s one of the best guys in television ever … I like that guy a lot .. I hope that this show will never end … He’s smarter that any other ‘idiot’ that’s going on air on other romanian TV Channels :))

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