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!”