The wars of Romanian media

The Romanian newspaper “Cotidianul” published an article today about what it called “Journalism 2.0,” a clever play on the Web 2.0 idea. The premise of the piece is that traditional media and citizen media are about to enter into an all out turf-war. The author, Cosmin Popan, says it’s a conflict between “media with a name and a reputation to defend and alternative media which evolve and grow in vigor and prestige, precisely because they shunned a series of traditional journalism rules.”

The question of what will happen to traditional media in the infomation age is on every journalist’s mind. It’s been a hot topic in the US since the 2004 elections and it’ll continue to be so for a while. I have been to a series of newsrooms (big and small) where this was discussed and there is a lot of fear, but also a lot of hope. So, yes, this subject continues to be news as the world comes to term with the idea that citizens can threaten establishment media.

But when this debate is applied to Romania media, I can’t help but shake my head.

As Bradut well pointed out in his blog, citizen media (if that’s how we wanna call this), is not a revolution but an evolution. In countries with an established media system and established values like the US, traditional press and this next journalism will find a middle ground and will complement each other. Traditional media–newspapers most of all–remain the king of information gathering. But to survive, they’ll need to adapt and reach their audience by using the new forms available to them, as well as by involving the public more and giving up the idea of being gatekeepers (gatekeepers for what when there is no fence anymore?).

But in Romania there is little established professional media to respect. Unfortunately, professional journalism has been developing strongly only in the past few years, and it’s already seeing itself under threat from the new forms of information dissemination. Moreover, even if most mainstream Romanian journalism has dropped its pontification-style, its editorializing and is embracing ideas like “you need three sources to verify an information,” it’s still eons away from being able to connect with the public.

The Romanian public does not know what they should expect from a journalist and they know even less about how the media functions. Not to mention that most of everything I read is dull, stale and disconnected from the life of the citizen. But blogs are not doing any better (although I am happy my prediction proved true and that 2006 was the year when they took off heavily in Romania)

So my problem with hailing Romanian bloggers as the salvation of Romanian journalism (or at least a serious threat to it) is that we’re comparing apples and oranges. Good journalism, great writing and great reporting is what anybody–no matter the medium they operate in–would recognize as valuable. But we have minuscule amounts of all of those in Romania. So who cares about blogs v. newspapers when hardly anyone (compared to the citizenship at large) makes use of any of them?

My point is that we should learn to do it right before we figure it out what platform to deliver it on.

2 Responses to “The wars of Romanian media”

  1. Speaking of middle ground in future journalism, am I remiss in noticing that has accepted (and features) articles from which is a Romanian outfit conjuring up stories in English which *appear* to be written by people who essentially rewrite AP/other mixed sources?

    I’ve seen them write about sports and entertainment in America which they could never reasonably have any direct experience in. At the risk of making accusations, it sometimes seem as though some smart person has hired a roomful of monkeys and typewriters to remanufacture “news” based exclusively on what they read others saying.

    If that’s a legitimate business model and promulgated to profitability by Google, then I sense a whole new era whereby just about anyone can corral a team of rewriters to absorb the opinions of first-hand media and then repurpose content into original word-choice… then sell it as original work.

    Perhaps they really have journalists that understand the music, the sports, the entertainment, the world events, the US politics, and other topics they so profusely extrude copy about… but to the discerning reader, it appears like a sickening farce.

  2. You’re wright, Cristi! And from this point, a looong dialog can be started.
    Anyway, out of the topic, I have to say that Cristi Lupsa is the best contributor FHM Romania had in years and I have to be sorry that he isn’t anymore. 🙂
    What about this, Cristi? Join me with a mail, I’d love a proposal-talk with you!


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