• 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.”

  • Visual journalism, the ability to tell a story differently

    A modern human, to be informed, needs not only text but also data and figures, all presented in a form at most easy to understand. And the struggle for this attention is getting harder for media representatives. What are the new trends in the visual journalism? How to attract and retain the consumer's attention? How could we provide him with information in a dynamic visual format? All these were discussed, analyzed and taught at the Visual Journalism course. Graphic designer Angela Ivanesi was the one who has brought the SAJ disciples itto the world of fonts, logos and infographics.

    The course lasted seven days, during which the students familiarized themselves with the basic concepts of press design, such as alignment, contrast, proximity, repetition. Besides, they grasped to use various graphic elements: font, image, logo, infographics. After a theoretical introduction, the disciples applied all the knowledge in practice, for a few days they stood in the shoes of the real press designers. The young people say that it was not easy at first, and the two-page layout of the newspaper became quite a difficult problem for them. However, it fared very well. "I've never thought that the design of the press could be so exciting. Now I know how much work stays beyond the first page of a newspaper," - said at the end of the course the IJC student Dan Petrusan.   

    According to the trainer, the Visual Journalism gains more and more popularity in the media, and the trend continues in the recent years. Providing the combination of letters and images that are suitable and harmonious, it gives to a journalist the opportunity to tell a story in a different way, unique and unusual.

    A special emphasis was put on creating the infographics. Students have learned how a press release, containing many figures and seemingly dull, can be presented in a dynamic way and be more attractive. Angela Ivanesi showed the young people various online tools that can be used in their work. "Infographics can help you convey an idea into a novel in a compact way, thus to draw attention of larger number of readers. Be creative and think in images", - concluded she.

    Today at the School of Advanced journalism starts the course of Online Journalism.

  • Political Journalism: Learning to See the Hidden Part of the Iceberg

    What happens on the political arena of Moldova? To what extent do international events affect us? Who are the main political actors and how do we deal with them? What is manipulation and political propaganda? How should we cover electoral campaigns and how can we “sight” fake news and photos? What distinguishes a political article and how to “pack” it so that it is interesting and understandable for the media consumer? These are only a few of the topics discussed at the second specialized course this year – Political Journalism.

    The course lasted three weeks and was divided into several key modules. The first module – “Introduction to Political Journalism” – was primarily focused on theoretical notions. Trainer Alina Țurcanu, editor of Radio Free Europe, discussed with the students about parties, political actors, and manipulation and propaganda in the media. The students found out what political message is and who is responsible for it. Another theme discussed regarded the subject of concentration of media ownership. The future journalists discovered what happens when a politician owns several media outlets and noted some helpful tips and ideas. Alina Țurcanu recommended the students to never work with assumptions and interpretations in journalism. “Always remain cold and emotionless. Be fair and honest with yourselves and with your public,” the trainer said.

    What is a political system and what are the financial sources of political parties in our country? These are the issues discussed in the second module. With the journalist and political analyst Anatolie Golea, the students talked about the particularities of a political discourse, analyzed the Law on Parties, and “deciphered” the particularities of talk-shows and other political programs, as well as the efficiency of communication between journalists and press services.

    Ethical journalism in the “fake news age” was the theme of the third module, which was held at the SAJ for the first time. The students tested some of the tools to spot fake news, photos and websites, being guided by the journalist Lilia Zaharia, who is also a graduate of the School. The young people analyzed some editing tricks used to make fake news and listed the traps journalists often get into. “Don’t let yourselves be manipulated. Check three times before publishing any information. Work only with numbers and accurate data,” the trainer said.

    The last module was dedicated to international and European political journalism. Its aim was to familiarize the students with details, documents and information about the European Union, relations between Moldova and the EU, the Association Agreement and the Free Trade Area with the EU, but also about the role of the media in the coverage of these issues. In order to help the students understand how international institutions work, the course trainer Sorina Ștefârță invited two experts to the School. The first guest – Sanda Sandu, the program coordinator at the Information and Documentation Center on NATO – spoke to students about the Moldova–NATO partnership, about the main objectives of reforms in the areas of defense and security, and about the Moldova-NATO Individual Action Plan for 2017-2019. The expert mentioned the importance of the media involvement in the coverage of the NATO issue. “The audience must be properly and objectively informed about what the partnership between Moldova and NATO means.

    The second guest, Dionis Cenușă, discussed with the SAJ students about the relations between Moldova and the European Union. The “Expert-Group” political analyst explained the role of the European institutions, pointed out the phases and effects of visa liberalization for the citizens of our country, and commented on certain details of the Association Agreement between Moldova and the European Union.

    Starting today and until the end of March, the SAJ is having the course of Investigative Journalism.

  • Media Management: How to Launch and Manage a Business in the Media

    What are the criteria that ensure the success of a media outlet? How the work is organized in an editorial office and how to manage a team of reporters, cameramen, drivers, editors and publishers? Is or not the media a business and how much does it cost to launch a TV, radio station, or a news portal? SAJ students have learned all that at the course of Media Management.

    After many practical courses, deadlines and texts written against the stop-watch, which they started the year with, the students of the School of Advanced Journalism have put their pens aside and focused on ideas of launching business in the media. The future journalists met the heads of several media outlets from the Republic of Moldova and discussed the launch and management of a radio station, a TV station and a regional periodical. Special emphasis was put on the development and implementation of projects in the media.

    In order to learn and understand how each media outlet works, the course was divided into four modules. The first was dedicated to radio management and was held by the instructor Adrian Petcu, head of the News editorial office of Radio Moldova. He spoke to the SAJ students about the schedule of a radio reporter, about the rights and obligations of the public station’s employees, about wages and advantages of working at a state institution... The next module, also intriguing, related to the management of a TV station. From the instructor Dorin Scobioala, director of the production house "Cat Studio" and correspondent for Reuters TV and Antenna 3 in Moldova, the young journalists have learned how a TV station “survives,” how to form a team working on TV, how to create the budget and how broadcast licenses are issued. The students have found the cost of an advertising minute, what a broadcast schedule is, how and who measures the TV audience, what prime-time and off-time are, and many other things.

    How to cope with competition and manage a regional newspaper? The answers came within the third module, dedicated to the management of printed press. Together with the instructor Lucia Bacalu-Jardan, director of the regional newspaper "Expresul" from Ungheni, the students talked about local media and the problems faced by newspapers - advertising, distribution, print runs, publishing facilities, etc.

    How can an idea become a successful media project? The transformation of an idea into a media product has been discussed and demonstrated within the last module, dedicated to developing media projects. Having ten years of experience in the field of media projects management, the instructor Ina Grejdeanu, Strategic Development Officer at the Independent Journalism Center, explained to the future journalists what a project is and how it should be written. Young people have discussed planning, innovation, costs, creativity, evaluation, team and monitoring.

    Students have also learned how to write a funding application and how to convince donors, have noted the stages of management and, last but not least, they learned that a successful project must be as original as possible. „A good project has to include the idea of changes for the better, and a well-structured plan makes 90% of success,” added the instructor in the end of the course.

    These days, the School of Advanced Journalism continues the course of Business Journalism.

  • Online Journalism: A Course That Goes Hand In Hand with New Media Trends

    How do we write things to be published online? What distinguishes a text written for the radio, the TV, or a newspaper from the one written and placed in the virtual space? What elements and applications do we use to attract the attention of consumers and how can we become original online? There are only a few questions the SAJ students answered during the first course taught in 2018 – Online Journalism. Together with them, Liliana Barbarosie, Europa Libera radio journalist, Cristian Jardan, Unimedia.info portal director, and freelancer Tatiana Etco worked together with them.

    The course lasted for two weeks and was divided into three modules. The first module, which lasted for five days, was focused on writing texts to be published online. Journalist Liliana Barbarosie explained to the students what an online article consists of, how to write a title, a lead, and intertitles, and what tricks journalists can use to make their materials as visible and attractive as possible.

    “Whether the reader accesses the news or not depends on the title. A good title must be intriguing”, Liliana Barbarosie says, noting that this is one of the first rules of journalism in general and that of online journalism in particular. In order to become true professionals, the instructor recommends the SAJ students to do their work well, to draw inspiration from the best journalists from our country and abroad, and to tend to progress towards perfection in the profession they have chosen.

    How can you make a journalistic material, having only a mobile phone at your disposal? This is what the students learned in the second module – Mobile Journalism, launched for the first time at the SAJ this year. Course instructor Cristian Jardan informed the students of various mobile accessories and applications that help journalists film and edit videos using only their mobile phones. To memorize how these applications worked, the future journalists made a video. The young people say they could not imagine that TV reportages can be filmed and edited directly on the phone as the only gadget to be used. “We have to adapt to the new trends”, student Alexandra Bodarev says at the end of the course.

    How to stay original even online? How do we integrate various elements such as radio, video, photo, or text into the same material? What are multimedia tools and how do we use them correctly? This is what the students discussed within the framework of the third module of the course. Together with Tatiana Etco, they tested various applications, found out how hyperlinks, ThingLink, and slideshows were working, and at the end, they made a visual presentation in Timeline, Story Map, and Storify.

    Today, the School of Advanced Journalism starts a course in Media Management.

  • Business Journalism: Searching, Analyzing, and Delivering Data and Figures to Readers

    What is the difference between a journalist who writes articles on business issues from one who reports on political or social issues? How does one “read” statistics, data, and financial reports correctly? Where can one find information for news reports, interviews, and reports on business issues? These questions were debated at the first specialized course of this year – Business Journalism.

    The first module, mostly theoretical, was dedicated to deciphering various business notions and terms. Trainer Vladimir Bolea, businessman and expert in business and law, explained to students how prices are formed in free market economy, as well as such notions as currency exchange rate, supply and demand, interest and dividends, trade balance, import and export, monopoly, competition, remittances, offshore systems, and so on. Young people also learned about the functions of the state, about the existing types of economy, and in the end they discussed money laundering and raider attacks.

    The practical part of the course came next, where students were guided by business journalist Ion Chislea. The trainer underlined that a reporter who wishes to specialize in the business field must be able to “read” figures, statistics, and the financial reports of public institutions, and, most importantly, to deliver this information as simply and understandable as possible to citizens. The most difficult, according to students, was focusing on the topic. “At this course, I understood that in a business article, every figure matters. The most difficult thing is to deliver information as simply as possible to the reader,” said student Diana Petrusan at the end of the course.

    Is the journalist an entrepreneur? Can he start a business? Can he report both simply and intriguingly about other people’s businesses? It was the theme of the third module of the course – Entrepreneurial Journalism. Although at first glance it seems a strange expression – because many people believe that a journalist cannot and should not engage in business – the trainer Olesea Solpan-Fortuna is convinced that things have changed a lot in recent years. Based on her experience as the president of GEN Moldova - Global Entrepreneurship Network Moldova, she spoke with young people about the entrepreneurial ecosystem and business ideas, and explained to future journalists how a banal idea can become a success story. Students also learned how the state contributes to the development of entrepreneurial culture and noted what skills an entrepreneur should have. And, in order to better understand how a business is launched and run, future journalists did some practical exercises.

    These days, the School of Advanced Journalism continues the second specialized course – Political Journalism.

  • TV Journalism: Writing Under Pressure, Speaking Through Images

    What is the specificity of work at television? How TV reports are created? What is the difference between a feature for print media and a broadcast feature? How can one capture and keep the attention of a modern viewer? How to shoot properly and what is the secret of a successful stand-up? These are only some of the questions that the students of SAJ sought answers to at the course of TV Journalism. The best television professionals – Dorin Scobioala, Dumitru Marian, Oxana Iutes and Andrei Cibotaru – worked together with the students.

    The course lasted four weeks, and it is one of the most complicated at the School. Its purpose is to provide students with not only theoretical, but also practical knowledge necessary for a television journalist, so when they graduate, students will be able to work as reporters, editors, producers or TV hosts.

    To initiate the students into the world of television, the course was divided into four modules, the first of which was held by Dorin Scobioala, director of the “Cat Studio” Production Company and correspondent for Reuters TV and Antena 3 in Moldova. The trainer told students about the functions of television, the specifics of a visual message and importance of images. They also discussed the structure of a TV report. Students have learned what sync, voice over, and beta are and have shot a stand-up each. The emphasis was put on acquiring teamwork skills – a very important aspect for work in a TV newsroom.

    The brief and captivating introduction to television was followed by the second module – Technical TV Skills. Guided and trained by the film director Dumitru Marian, the students learned everything about video cameras and studied the Adobe Premiere video editing application. Dumitru Marian explained why two frames are put together, how to combine different backgrounds, how to shoot a panorama, a detail, a forefront and a general view. Students have learned what composition, frame, scene, shooting axis, video format, non-linear and linear editing are.

    The following two modules allowed students to transform into practice what they had learned in theory. So, having equipped themselves with microphones, video cameras, tripods and documented a number of topics, future reporters produced a number of materials, such as features and TV reports. For five days the TV journalist Oxana Iutes worked together with the students. She spoke with them about the specifics of television language, the content of journalistic materials and, last but not least, the importance of fieldwork. “Try to make your viewer feel, see and hear what you have felt, seen and heard when you were making the report,” the journalist said.

    The students learned how to work in a real newsroom during the last, most complicated but most interesting module: TV Newsroom. For five days, guided by trainer Andrei Cibotaru, the students had to produce several newscasts. For this, every morning, a traditional “editorial meeting” was held at the School, where the students proposed and approved, together with the producer, news topics. Then, after hours of documenting, fieldwork, shooting and discussions with sources, texts were written and reports were edited. And at 16:00 we watched together the newscasts created by the SAJ students... At the end of the course, Andrei Cibotaru congratulated everyone on the work they did and the courage they showed, and urged them to continue doing their job honestly and correctly.

    These days the School of Advanced Journalism is doing the course of Visual Journalism.


Success stories

“It is not at all a traditional school”
“The SAJ was a challenge, but also a chance to get a new profession”
“I’m proud of my first job and I like what I’m doing”