Vasile Gancev: “It is not at all a traditional school”

The story of our today’s protagonist is just as peculiar as the stories of other graduates of the School of Advanced Journalism. The desire to become a reporter began to “eat” him back when he was getting ready for his final high-school exams. Although at that moment he didn’t know very well what this job means, he says he was fascinated a lot by the journalists who did standups, reporting on the important events of the day. He was convinced that one day he would also get to inform the public. That is why he decided to embrace this profession, which “harmoniously combines reading and writing.”

So, after he finished high school in the city of Leova – where he studied in Russian, by the way, – he applied to the Faculty of Journalism and Communication Sciences at the Moldova State University (MSU). His goal was to get a state-budgeted place. But since reality often disagrees with our dreams, journalism had to wait… He got, instead, admitted to another faculty of the MSU, where he also applied and which seemed to be completely opposite to his dream profession – Biology and Pedology, with specialization in Forestry and Public Gardens. He accepted the challenge, even knowing that the great difficulty was ahead. That difficulty was the fact that he was to study in Romanian… He knew he would have to work much more than his colleagues. So, in order to adapt easily and quickly to the new conditions, he started reading newspapers and books in Romanian.

He turned up trumps, overcoming all obstacles. And one day he saw his dream of becoming a journalist come true. How it happened, we’ll hear from Vasile Gancev himself, a graduate of the 2012-2013 school year, who is now a reporter for www.media-azi.md.

“A tough wait, but it was worth it”

“I heard about the School when I was a second-year student at MSU. I’d met Mariana Tibuleac, one of the graduates of the School’s second promotion. She told me a lot about the SAJ and about the specifics of teaching. I believe that thanks to her I became a student of the School. She was the one who wrote a letter of recommendation, and I am grateful to her for it.

Still, I waited to finish my studies at the university. It was a tough wait, but it was worth it. I got my application papers ready and, with optimistic thoughts, submitted them to the SAJ. It was the spring of 2012, and I became one of the 18 students admitted that year. We were a team of recent graduates of different areas: psychology, arts and acting, economy, biology, journalism and communication. This is the thing that differs the School from other educational institutions. To become a student of the SAJ, you don’t necessarily need to do journalism studies at a university. Candidates from all kinds of areas are welcome – social and human sciences, technology, arts, healthcare, economy, and many others.”

“Oh, this is what you actually look like!”

“At the admission interview, I already knew some of the committee members, because I used to read newspapers and online media, and some of them I was seeing for the first time. It is a strange feeling when you communicate with the people you only saw on TV or whose works you read. It’s like, “Oh, this is what you actually look like!” I think it’s the effect of television, which sometimes hypnotizes you…

The way the School of Advanced Journalism works differs from everything we know about a traditional school or university. I remember that from the very first day of classes we started writing news. On that first day we were also sent to do fieldwork! And Mr. Vasile Botnaru kept telling us to be very careful when we write the names and jobs of sources or protagonists in our articles or news reports. “Well, it doesn’t really matter if you get a name, job, or letter wrong,” I thought then… A little later, however, I understood the usefulness of this piece of advice.

At the SAJ, I learned to hold a camera properly, I saw what button I have to press in order to shoot. I am lucky to have had professional teachers from all segments of the media: TV, radio, online, print media, design, and so on. They are people who do journalism every day and come to us, the students, to teach us writing news, interviews, and investigations, making quality photos, filming and editing interesting TV reports, and even doing newspaper layouts.

Another very unusual thing for me, at least at that moment, was to evaluate the way a course was taught. We, the students, were grading teachers! Before the SAJ, no one ever asked us what we thought of the teacher. I believe it is a method that should be applied in other educational institutions, too.”

“The School’s efficiency can be measured by what students do after graduation”

“All those who get to study at the SAJ go through a filter, meaning that only the best candidates are admitted. And it is highly motivating to know that you are one of the best. People also say that the School contributes to making dreams come true. It is so, but no dream can come true if you don’t invest some effort, sometimes even a lot of effort.

The School’s efficiency can also be measured by what students do after graduation. Some of my classmates work in print media, others launched their own media projects, and some produced high-profile investigations. It all means a lot of work, dedication, perseverance, and desire to change things in the country.

However, every young person who wants to prove themselves and study at the SAJ needs to take into account the fact that the School is only a first step in the career of a journalist. The difficult things start at work, in a media outlet, where you need to prove day by day that you are a fair, objective, and unbiased journalist. They teach all these things at the School of Advanced Journalism.”