• Xenia Siminciuc: “The School of Advanced Journalism Offers Equal Opportunities for All”

    She enjoys music and sport, and since childhood she dreamed of becoming a journalist, so, just four years old, she would improvise TV interviews and reports in front of a mirror… But the road to her dream was rather long. Thus, before she came to the School of Advanced Journalism, she got two graduate degrees (in foreign languages at the “Ion Creanga” State Pedagogical University, and in economy and management at the Academy of Public Administration), and worked as a translator at the Association of the Blind of Moldova. However, her thought of journalism kept following her. We are talking about Xenia Siminciuc, graduate of 2008-2009 class, communications officer at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

    “I always knew that a reporter’s work was very hard – either on the radio, in print media or on television. Still I always saw myself as part of this interesting and captivating process. I wanted to see how things are done behind a newspaper page, radio waves of TV screen. My dream started taking shape when I found out that the SAJ announced admission for a new school year. I was excited, although the thought that I was visually challenged lessened my hopes of admission… When the admission campaign was nearly over, I had a very serious discussion with my husband, and together we decided that I should at least try. So said, so done!”

    I tried hard to deal with challenges

    “I still remember my admission interview. It was quite difficult, especially that I didn’t know how the commission members would react when they saw me… After a round of questions and answers, they asked the one question I feared the most: ‘How will you manage?’ ‘I will do everything I can to manage,’ I said. And so, in September 2008 I became one of the 17 students admitted to the SAJ. I was really happy, and my self-confidence grew thousands of times! In the year that followed, everything was possible due to the fact that I was offered the chance to learn at one of the best journalism schools in the country. If they believed in me, why wouldn’t I do it?!”

    The School changed my views and steeled me

    “I realized that admission was just a first step and that it wouldn’t be easy, especially since I didn’t speak Romanian very well. I asked colleagues and trainers for help, and, with much work, I managed to learn the language. And I am proud of myself today! Another challenge was the special equipment, since they do a lot of practical exercises at the SAJ, and we, the students, had to act like real reporters. When I would run about the city in search of news and reports, photo and video cameras and voice recorders gave me lots of trouble.

    “But I tried not to complain of how difficult it was. I always had the help of colleagues and encouragement of trainers, and I am thankful for that. In the ten months of study I was treated fairly and equally, without discrimination or favoring. Like everybody else, I did works for radio, print media or television, and I met the deadlines, which is very important for a journalist…”

    Journalism started living in me

    “The experience and knowledge that I got at the SAJ helped me later to produce an investigation that shattered the rotten health care system in our country. It is a study published in March 2015 by the UN Office for Human Rights about the situation of children with congenital malformations in Moldova and how corruption in hospitals is killing them. I would like our journalists to cover sensitive social topics as often and as much as possible. I believe that it is the only way we could change things.”

    At the SAJ I met people who change Moldova

    “In the nearly eight years since graduation, I worked mostly in print media. Since 2014, I have been a communications officer at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and although I don’t do classical journalism, I keep in touch with all my colleagues and with many other SAJ graduates. We are a very big family! We are trying to collaborate with various institutions and organizations to promote human rights. Who knows, maybe we will even start a course for the students of the School of Advanced Journalism!

    “I am extremely happy that the School of Advanced Journalism happened to be in my life. There, I met people who change Moldova. There, I learned to be strong and not to give up to challenges. Because the School offers equal opportunities for all.”

  • “People and Kilometers” was named the best media project produced by SAJ graduates

    The idea of the “People and Kilometers” team has been found the most innovative and most practical media project produced by the graduates of the School of Advanced Journalism (SAJ). The prize granted, EUR 750, will contribute to strengthening the independent media space in Moldova.

    The Best Media Project Contest was launched in late September at the conference dedicated to the tenth anniversary of the SAJ. The over 160 graduates had two months to submit materials. The projects were evaluated based on three key criteria: originality and novelty of idea, practical component and sustainability. There were no restrictions as to the topic except that the project had to be interesting, useful and have impact with the public. The materials were examined by a jury of seven experts, including five SAJ trainers. Five of them opted for the idea proposed by “People and Kilometers”, and their main argument was the fact that it is the most viable project of all.

    The “People and Kilometers” online platform is a new journalistic project launched in autumn 2016. According to the project’s founders, materials published with the help of the grant offered by the Independent Journalism Center will continue bringing to the focus the “diseases” of our society. “We follow the protagonists of our materials for weeks or even months. We do it in order to better understand social phenomena. Our editorial niche is depth. We create stories, and we believe that stories combined with classical journalism will change the world. The fact that we were named the best media project is further proof that we are going the right way,” said journalist Polina Cupcea.  

    The winner was announced on December 16 at the Gala of the Press organized by the IJC and the Press Freedom Committee. Out of the four members of the “People and Kilometers” team, three are SAJ graduates: Polina Cupcea and Raisa Razmerita graduated the School in 2013, and Nicolae Cuschevici in 2008. All three have experience in journalism and had previously worked with such publications as “Ziarul de Garda”, “Ziarul National”, “Adevarul Moldova”. They also did several journalistic investigations in collaboration with RISE Moldova.

  • Iurii Botnarenco, laureate of the “Hope of the Year 2016” Special Prize

    Graduate of 2015-2016 class of the School of Advanced Journalism, Iurii Botnarenco was designated “Hope of the Year 2016”. The prize was offered on Friday, 16 December, at the Annual Gala of the Press.

    Iurii is a reporter of Bucharest’s “Adevarul” newspaper and manages the publication’s website section dedicated to Moldova. The “Hope of the Year 2016” is the first prize of his career in journalism. Clearly emotional, Iurii told us that the desire to receive that title came last year at the “Best Journalists of 2015” Gala, when he was still a student at the School of Advanced Journalism. Iurii says that this award will motivate him in his work even more. “I will do my work honestly, correctly, neutrally, objectively and professionally,” he said.

    The “Journalists of the Year 2016” Awards Gala is at its 22nd edition, and it has been organized by the Independent Journalism Center (IJC) and the Press Freedom Committee. Since 2007, five SAJ graduates have become “Hope of the Year”: Anastasia Nani (2007), Irina Gotisan (2010), Alla Ceapai (2012), Tamara Grejdeanu (2013) and Victoria Ungureanu (2014).

  • Media Design, a Course on Creation of Visual Messages

    The modern reader becomes increasingly attracted to online media, where information is both faster and – most often – free. However, there are still people nostalgic for print media, who keep buying and reading traditional newspapers. How can one maintain the attention of such media consumers? How can a newspaper or magazine be made more attractive? And how can a newspaper’s design be adapted to new media trends, such as very popular lately inforgraphics? Answers to these and other questions SAJ students learned from Angela Ivanesi, trainer of the Visual Journalism course.

    The course is designed to acquaint the School’s students with basic skills and knowledge to create and arrange the main elements of a newspaper on the page: format, font, headline, image, graphics and text. Young people learned how to draw the reader’s attention by using various graphic elements, what a logo is, and what principles its creation is based on. All theoretical knowledge was certainly applied in practical exercises. Like real designers, each student created a logo and made a newspaper page layout. All work was done in Adobe InDesign.

    The last and most interesting topic was “Infographics and how to make them”. For two days, students learned what inforgraphics are and how they differ from other ways of conveying information, and Angela Ivanesi explained how a newspaper text can be replaced by an infographic.

    SAJ students say that the practical knowledge obtained during the course will be of much help, even if not all of them are planning to work in print media. Dumitrita Andriuta is convinced that every journalist should know the basics of media design: “Now I know the secret of a logo and how to make it more interesting and attractive. Most of all, though, I liked designing a newspaper layout. I thought it is difficult, but I was wrong,” the student said.

    Tomorrow, the School of Advanced Journalism starts the course of Online Journalism.

  • Two graduates of the SAJ are among the winners of the contest for the best journalistic investigation

    Anastasia Cucuruz and Ghenadie Brega, graduates of the 2014-2015 class, won the 3rd prize in the contest of journalistic investigations on the topic of corruption. The prize was awarded for the article titled “The Gas (In)dependence of Moldova and Ukraine”, produced in collaboration with journalist Elena Chernyshova from Ukraine.

    Anastasia Cucuruz is currently the PR&Communications Manager of the International Center “La Strada”. Since she studied at the School of Advanced Journalism, Anastasia has collaborated with the Journalistic Investigations Center and wrote news articles for Politik.md. She also used to be a local reporter for Transilvania Regional Business, www.trb.ro, a portal of economic analyses from Romania. Ghenadie Brega is reporter with “Ziarul de Garda” weekly newspaper and freelancer with the Journalistic Investigations Center.

    “I would have liked that the problem we wrote about didn’t exist… But since abuses happened and were written about, it would have been correct there to be a reaction – which unfortunately didn’t happen. Anyway, we, journalists, won’t give up. We will continue knocking at the door until it opens,” Anastasia said at the award ceremony on Tuesday, December 13.

    The contest of journalistic investigations was organized as part of the “Strengthening the Prevention and Analysis Functions of the National Anticorruption Center” project, with the support of UNDP, NAC and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway. 15 journalists registered for the contest, with 42 materials published in the period of January-October 2016. Investigations targeted corruption, mismanagement of public money and property, undeclared wealth and businesses, etc. In addition to diplomas, contest winners received valuable prizes from organizers, such as laptops, video and photo cameras.

  • Ethics and Diversity in the Media: Learning Impartiality, Objectiveness and Correctness

    Should we publish photos with children abused, victims of a road accident, or deceased people? Can we use obscene and denigrating language in articles? Do we have the right to discriminate against people based on gender, age, ethnicity, religion, social status or sexual orientation? These and many other questions concerning ethics and journalistic deontology SAJ students answered at the course of ethics and diversity in the media. For six days they were trained by Nadine Gogu, Executive Director of the Independent Journalism Center.

    The course of ethics and diversity in the media is intended to initiate future journalists into the basic principles of ethics and deontology. The course perfectly combines theory and practice and involves active engagement of students. During classes, students spoke about the stereotypes concerning various categories of people (men and women, the young and the elderly, the rich and the poor, heterosexuals and homosexuals), and learned how to find and work with relevant sources, how to write and edit ethically sensitive texts, how to separate private life from public interest, and how to cover topics concerning children, minors, and victims.

    Coverage of diversity in the media was another key component of the course. For a better understanding of this phenomenon, students met with Angelica Frolov, coordinator of the Lobby and Advocacy Program at “GENDERDOC-M” Center. The discussion was tense, and it was focused on LGBT rights and on avoiding discriminating terminology against these people. “The media must inform the public objectively and correctly, with respect for every person’s gender identity,” Angelica Frolov underlined.

    During the course, students did some practical tasks, too: analysis of a material from the media, referring it to the Moldovan Journalist’s Code of Ethics; research of documentation for a material on the topic of diversity; students’ own analysis of a film. “The journalistic profession involves responsibility. Impartiality, objectivity and correctness are the fundamental principles of quality journalism, and you, as future journalists, must respect them,” Nadine Gogu said at the end of the course, urging students not to deviate from these principles.

    Students also confessed that this course is absolutely necessary, especially for them, who are just at the start of their careers. “The course of ethics made me understand that the profession of journalist involves much responsibility and that a word poorly thought out can lead to serious consequences,” said student Maria Svet. “When a journalist respects the Code of Ethics, he respects himself,” concluded student Dumitrita Andriuta.

  • Iurii Botnarenco: “Thanks to the SAJ, journalism has been a stroke of luck”

    In 2009, he graduated Moldova State University with a license degree in International Relations and went in search of the American dream. Five years later he came back home and, since he was looking for a new beginning, he applied to the School of Advanced Journalism. He came here rather out of curiosity, with a good dose of skepticism, because he didn’t believe that a career in journalism is possible in Moldova. Surprise came with the graduation of the SAJ, as a job offer. Now, he is a reporter with “Adevarul” newspaper from Bucharest; he manages the publication’s section for Moldova on its website and is proud of being part of a correct and professional team.

    At the SAJ, everything is different!

    “I returned from the USA in 2015, but I didn’t see myself working in Moldova. In the first days of the ‘vacation’ home, surfing Facebook, I saw the announcement about admission to the School of Advanced Journalism (SAJ). At that moment I thought that since I have free time anyway, why don’t I use this chance? I prepared the application, went to the interview, and on September 1st I was among the fourteen students of the School’s tenth graduating class. I wanted to improve my communication skills, learn something new in a field where there a lot to learn about and from!

    Classes at the SAJ impressed me from the start. Here, interesting instructors and the best practitioners in their field teach topics in a manner easy to perceive, focusing on practical work. All information, suggestions and advice that they offered to us is a product of their professional experience, not taken from books on journalism. And I used to say to my friends: “If you don’t like journalism, I assure you that you will like the School of Advanced Journalism. Here, everything is different!” I meant, first of all, the manner in which each course is taught.

    In ten months, I learned more than in three years of university

    “The schedule is very well structured, and in a relatively short time we learned everything a beginner journalist needs to know – from how to write a piece of news to media law and ethics or radio and video editing. The difference between the SAJ and university is that here you don’t study theory, but you do lots of practical exercises! Homework is a practical task, either a piece of news, interview or report. Thus, from the very first day of school you see how they eat this bread and you gather a rich experience of work in the manner of a real media outlet. I liked TV journalism the best – for its dynamics and for the fact that in a way you are the director of your own story. In TV you are always in action, among people, in search of interesting topics. At the School we learned to film, do the best stand-ups, write texts for reports and edit them. I don’t know where else a journalist can learn the job in several dimensions. And a graduate of the SAJ is a universal journalist, who can do anything the producer or editor ask.”

    The internship at PRO TV was an amazing experience

    “For the internship at the end of the year, I wanted to get to work at a television – and I chose PRO TV Chisinau. It was a unique experience; I went to different sites daily, filmed the ‘hot’ topics of the day. In the four weeks of the internship, I made about ten reports that appeared in the main newscast on PRO. The first report was about a women’s football team from Ialoveni who won the Republic’s Cup. We had to film the girls’ joy, how they traveled on their bus from Chisinau to Ialoveni, marching with that cup… Then were reports with more adrenaline, but more tragic for simple people. They were about the floods in Chisinau in the summer of 2016, especially on Albisoara street, and about the floods in the south of the country. I remember the moment when at 12 o’clock at night I was called by the news producer, who asked me if I wanted to go right then to Ceadir-Lunga town, where water had risen a meter high… I said ‘YES!’ without any hesitation.”

    The job offer came at a time when I expected it the least

    “One day, when I was still attending classes, the School’s Director Sorina Stefarta told us: “Adevarul newspaper from Bucharest is looking for a correspondent in Chisinau. Who wants?” Three students raised their hands, but in the end only I remained, as the others refused for different reasons. I accepted the job immediately, tempted by the idea of a more flexible schedule, which would let me do several things and not be forced to stay in an office. I went to Bucharest, signed the contract, and on May 15, 2016, the day before my birthday, I became a correspondent of Adevarul.ro in Chisinau. Although online work is not as impressive as on television, I sometimes try to add TV elements to articles. I go on site, film, and then edit the report or interview. And all that is thanks to the knowledge obtained at the SAJ.

    The School of Advanced Journalism offered me the opportunity of good professional training – an SAJ graduate can do everything: film, edit, write texts, make photos, and Adevarul offers me the chance to work in a team where no one tells me what or how to write, meaning the chance to be an independent journalism. At the School, teachers used to say: ‘Write in a way that won’t make you feel ashamed when you look in the mirror.’ I want to believe that I don’t disappoint them!”


Success stories

“The School of Advanced Journalism Offers Equal Opportunities for All”
“Thanks to the SAJ, journalism has been a stroke of luck”
“The SAJ is the place where you learn all about journalism in a very short time”