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Alina Radu, Director of the Ziarul de Garda: "We Don't Hope to Governors' Immediate Reactions to Our Investigations"

23 August 2016
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"Partially free", but how independent?

We record, at the end of August, 25 years of independence of the Republic of Moldova and the Celebration "Limba noastra". 25 years is adulthood. But how did the media from the Republic of Moldova evolve and to what extent did it grow up in this period? Which is the general state of press after 25 years of independence of the state Republic of Moldova?
Why do we have a press with a status of "partially free" at present, and our country continues to go down in the international tops regarding the press freedom? Why can't we talk about the existence of a genuine media pluralism in the situation when we have hundreds of media institutions in the Republic of Moldova? How to explain the fact that after decades of totalitarianism and censorship we continue to confront with the concentration phenomenon today? Finally, how much time do we need so the press to be also recognized in our country, as in the civilized world, the fourth power in the state?
Media Azi addressed this topic with its guests: media experts, opinion leaders, press managers and journalists. We will present their opinions daily, during this month, in order to outline together a more realistic picture of local media after 25 years of independence of our country.
Media Azi: Perhaps, the expression "guard dog",  assigned to the profession of a journalist, fits best the investigative journalism. What were the biggest challenges for the Ziarul de Garda in those 12 years of activity?
Alina Radu: The most important challenge was and is the problem of documentation of some good investigations and bringing them to the citizen. During 12 years we have always had difficulties to get access to information of public interest connected to governors' wealth, interests and business, but also to manage to reach our readers and subscribers with our newspaper. Today, after 12 years of fighting for the rights of the investigative journalism in Moldova, reporters still pay large sums for the information which is public under the law and it is for the first time when the price which the state institutions take from us for access to information doubled (in December 2015). For some time, we returned to the discussion regarding the authorities' reaction to the investigative journalism, because the ministries and the force institutions try to inoculate the idea that the investigative journalism is compromised and it's not worth reacting to the press articles which expose the corruption, money laundering and the abuse in public functions. This reaction is a sign of appreciation, but also a challenge. Only the corrupt don't want the press to write about corruption and we will take into account this fact.
Media Azi: Does the campaign against corruption, which you perform over time through the newspaper, inspire more optimism or pessimism to you? How strong is the press in fighting this scourge?
Alina Radu: We cured from dreaminess at the ZDG. We don't hope to governors' immediate reactions to our investigations; we don't believe in populist miming actions in fighting corruption. Thus, we don't get hurt and we don't waste time to comfort each other. We have devotion for the investigative journalism and the exposure of big corruption, developed in 12 years. In the last decade, we have seen many public reactions which meant appreciation of our work, or the furious reactions of some politicians even in the Parliament Hall, or some aggressive calls from the Government, or numerous citations in court from some public people, or telephone and electronic threats. The ZDG hasn't lost any lawsuit in 12 years and the majority of the corrupt who was written about in the press endured some changes due to our work. Yes, they didn't populate the prisons, they didn't return all the stolen money from the public budget, but all the governances leave earlier or later, some for good, having a bad image, first of all, because of their own actions, but not because the courage of the reporters who exposed them. Even in the most incorruptible states, the fight with corruption has never stopped. The fight with corruption has to continue as long as there is public money and common goods. The investigative journalism is so dear to us that we are very interested to continue as long as it is needed.
Media Azi: How do you explain that after 25 years of independence of our country our press still has the status of partially free?
Alina Radu: The explanation is simple. The non-freedom of press is the problem of public authorities and political parties. The parties and the intermediaries control a big part of the press, but the state authorities don't want to ensure the absolute freedom of press because they are controlled by the same parties. It is the failure of Governance, they have to assume it and accept that the press is a component of a state life and it is not a party toy.