Community Journalism: A Place’s Identity through Newspaper Pages

The last course of the year took the SAJ students to the village of Selemet in Cimislia district. The purpose of the visit was to collect information and then make a newspaper about the village and for the villagers. Those who helped the young reporters to discover the spirit of Selemet were trainers Petru Macovei and Angela Ivanesi. This year, our students had other young people, students of a journalism school from Germany, working alongside and together with them.

The SAJ students had only six days to make the newspaper from concept to printing. The first day was an introductory one. Students spoke with Petru Macovei about the specifics of community journalism, about what differs it from other genres of mass media, about the peculiarities of the place, and then chose the editorial team by voting. Andrei Cebotari was appointed as the editor-in-chief. The function of editor was offered to Georgeta Fanaru, while Elena Rotari was appointed as layout designer, being responsible for arranging materials on the page in the most original way possible. Other students played the role of reporters and had to draft two articles each.

Then came one of the most difficult but interesting and memorable parts of the course – the visit to the village. There, young reporters had a couple of hours to discuss with the village mayor, visit the local museum, kindergarten and school, searching everywhere for interesting topics. The visit was followed by two days of work in the newsroom when, under careful supervision of the trainers, the students wrote, edited and designed their articles. Finally, the “Tezaurul” newspaper was sent to the print shop. The life stories of sixteen ordinary people, story-keepers of Selemet, were reflected on eight pages.

After they saw the result of their work just taken out of the printing press, the SAJ students analyzed, together with the trainer, the mistakes committed and the success achieved. Petru Macovei congratulated the students for their effort and pointed out the importance of team work. “Travel to villages, write more about people and don’t forget about the social responsibility that you have,” he said. Then, traditionally, they returned to Selemet, to share with the villagers the newspaper made exclusively about them and for them. The people looked happy and proud of the fact that their stories appeared in the village’s only newspaper.