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Valeriu Vasilica, Director of the Press Agency Info-Prim Neo: “We Are Witnessing the Disappearance of the Institution of Press Agency with the Classic Mission to Give Fair and Balanced information”

24 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: The Press Agency which you direct is on the media market since 1998. We ask you to number several moments (events) which have marked its activity in all this time… 

Valeriu Vasilica: The concept of IPN is really on the media market since 1998 with the two organizational forms: the municipal public Agency Info-Prim (1998-2005) and the private/independent Info-Prim Neo (IPN) (2005- present). The public agency appeared and functioned in an attempt to offer the public a media alternative to the pro-government monopolistic holding of that time, inside of the municipal media-holding of the capital: Antena C, Info-Prim, Capitala and Euro TV. The destruction of all its components can be a model of repression of press freedom on political grounds with the outright and cynic involvement of all the state levers: legislative, administrative, regulatory etc., including the police. Afterwards, more subtle “models” appeared. I will mention some of them hereunder.
Media Azi: In those 25 years of independence have the tastes (interests) of the news consumers evolved somehow? What news is most wanted and expected by the readers in comparison with 2000, for example? 
Valeriu Vasilica: From my point of view, the tastes “have evolved”, but in an opposite direction. It is a process imposed by the public through another model of pressure on the press from Moldova. For some time, we are witnessing the process of disappearance of the institute of press agency with the classic mission to give fair and balanced information. At the moment of IPN appearance, there were 12-13 press agencies on the market with an official status and activity, including economic. The majority has disappeared physically, and the ones which are left correspond to the old criteria of agencies, in my opinion 2, maximum 3 institutions. These have been replaced through a process forced by the phenomenon called slyly “information resources”. Most of them are backed by funding and political and economic interests foreign to the press, and their “production” having a pronounced tabloid character. The public from Moldova mostly reads the information which is given on this segment that largely speculates on the formal similarities with the press bodies, not being such.
Media Azi: In the international tops, our press has the status of partially free. If you were to make up another top of the media institutions from the Republic of Moldova, on the same criteria, what place would you give to the Agency Info-Prim Neo?

Valeriu Vasilica: The criteria for the international tops and those according to which functions a certain part of press or the press clones from Moldova are rather different. That’s why, it would be rather difficult for me to make up a possible top. Today I still strongly believe in the criterion which the Agency defined in 1998: “Useful. Impartial. Prompt”, as well as the set out priorities. According to this criterion, I think that IPN could pretend to certain places in top, only that less followers of this vision on press and its relation with the surrounding world remained in nowadays press and society.