Case study. N4, Obiectiv, 27 July, 19.30 02.08.2009
Today’s Videomonitor considers a news story broadcast in the newscast Obiectiv of 27 July, 19.30, on the TV station N4. That TV material tackles, in a distorted and partial way, an electoral event – a news conference on the totals of the race for the early parliamentary elections, held by the PL, PLDM and AMN,at which its protagonists called on voters to support them in the July 29 poll.
What was the essence of the message promoted at that electoral event?
The Liberal-doctrine political parties – the PL, PLDM and AMN -- on 27 July, the last day of electioneering in the race for the early parliamentary elections, decided to hold a news conference to draw the totals of the campaign and to send a joint message to the voters, before the election day. Here is what, for instance, the news site www.stireazilei.md reported on this event: “The leaders of the Liberal Democratic Party from Moldova, of the Liberal Party and of Our Moldova Alliance, accompanied by the other 38 MPs, gathered early in the morning on Europe’s Square at the entrance in Ştefan Cel Mare Public Garden. Songs of the departed Ion and Doina Aldea-Teodorovici were sounding in the loudspeakers, as the parliamentarians shook hands and hugged one another as true friends fighting for a common cause – Moldova’s European future.
“We are in front of you, we, those three opposition parties, who gave up the MP mandates in the name of the European future. We commit to take the country out of deadlock, to gradually integrate into the European Union, so that every citizen, regardless of nationality, should feel as a citizen of a state with future,” stated PL leader Mihai Ghimpu from the floor installed in the square,” reads the text by www.stireazilei.md.
At the same event, PLDM president Vladimir Filat stated (quote from the communiqué on the party’s web site): “As we fully committed in front of society, the Liberal Democratic Party from Moldova has had a constructive campaign, we have proposed solutions for the problems we cope with. The PLDM did not practice personal attacks, did not slander its electoral competitors and made sustained efforts to offer the citizens to vote free on July 29 and to make a conscious choice. Moldova needs a new government, constituted legally and representative, resulting from the conscious vote and not from manipulation or misinformation.”
“July29may be our last chance. We must choose between darkness and future, between poverty and welfare, to choose the European future of Moldova. The opposition will stay united until we solve all the problems of this country,” stated AMN leader Serafim Urechean.
“We call on citizens to firmly reject the fear, poverty and dictatorship and, on July 29, to vote for the European future of our country. Let’s do it this way, so that we look in our children’s eyes with the feeling of having done our duty. May God bless our country, the Republic of Moldova!” said the PLDM’s deputy president, Alexandru Tănase.
In the end of the conference, they presented, in Romanian and Russian, the joint appeal of the PL, PLDM and AMN to the Moldovan citizens. “The parliamentary elections of July 29 are a test of political maturity of our society, reads the appeal. We have got the historic chance to leave, forever, from the Communist past; to choose a democratic and responsible government, through which we could set the foundation of a state of law, in which every citizen should have the opportunity to manifest, freely and unembarrassingly, his/her creating capacities; to insure a decent living in Moldova. If we act together, if we have a single thought and a single wish, the change for better in Moldova will certainly occur and we’ll become again masters in our home. The United Opposition – the Liberal Party, the Liberal Democratic Party and Our Moldova Alliance – calls on all its supporters, on all the citizens of our country, inhabitants of villages and towns, representatives of ethnic groups, on those having left for abroad, but permanently thinking of their children and parents at home, to participate in the parliamentary elections of 29 July, 2009, to firmly reject the fear, poverty and dictatorship, to vote for freedom, democracy and Moldova’s European future!”
The message of the event, grounded on the values from the electoral platforms of those Liberal parties, shows their aspiration to strengthen Moldova as a democratic state of law.
What did N4 report from this electoral event?
N4communicated three documentary facts to its viewers: the first – the conference was organized by the PL and the PLDM; the second – the conference was attended “also by the AMN,” the third – the conference was dedicated to the totals of the electoral race.
N4’s TV material also contained an audio fragment on the background, what, in the opinion of this TV station, rendered both the atmosphere in which the conference was held and its essence. The question is about fragments from the song “Trei culori” (Three colors), sung by the departed Doina and Ion Aldea-Teodorovici.
N4 distorted the message of the electoral actors
The documentary facts from the news story were subjected to subjective interpretation, often resorting to direct or disguised falsities, meant to replace the due argumentative ensemble. Examples.
1. N4 played the atmosphere audio twice (excerpts from the song “Trei culori” sung by Doina and Ion Aldea-Teodorovici.) Its being repeated was used by N4 as an argument to confer a certain connotation to the electoral event, and namely – the unionist one (pro-Romania), actually improper (the arguments can be taken from the above-mentioned part of this analysis), so that later, this (false) ground should be used to justify a series of assertions, especially the ones from the beginning of the report: “On this unionist key did the electoral race for the Liberal parties end. With melodies calling to destroy Moldova as a state and joining it to the neighboring country, the PL and the PLD organized a news conference today about the totals of the campaign.”
2. N4 is wrong when it asserts that the organizers of the event were two parties (PL and PLDM), in fact – there were three (PL, PLDM and AMN);
3. N4 distorts the facts when it asserts that AMN garnered “but 2.6 per cent of the votes.” In fact, the question is about an opinion poll – the Public Opinion Barometer -- performed by the Public Policies Institute.
4. N4 states subjectively: “In thewhole activity of the Liberals since their constitution, they stressed on messages about joining our country to Romania.” Checking their party programs and electoral platforms denies that thing. We quote from the PL’s program, compartment XI Foreign Policy: “The main directions of Moldova’s external policy pour from its domestic policy, from the its national vital interests: a) strengthening the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Moldova by boosting the efforts externally in order to solve the Transnistrian conflict.” The PLDM’s electoral platform “Together for Moldova” in the early elections of July 29, 2009, clearly describes the relations between Moldova and Romania (comp.5.2).
5. N4 makes gratuitous statements (“Last year, exactly 7 months before April 7, Pl leader Dorin Chirtoacă called the people from the Great National Assembly to destroy the Moldovan statehood and join our country to another state,”) since these statements by Chirtoaca taken from his speech of 31 August 2008, out of context, do not confirm those assertions.
6. N4 tendentiously discloses the would-be links between the songs of Doina and Ion Aldea-Teodorovici from that news conference, D. Chirtoacă’s speech of 31 August 2008 and the slogans chanted during the events of 7 April 2009. Consequently, the station forces the viewers to treat the PL, PLDM and AMN as forces calling “to the destruction of the Moldovan statehood and to join our country to another state.”
It’s worth to mention that N4 presented just a view on the tackled issues. The covered political actors were deprived of the right to expose their opinions. The facts were tackled hastily, without offering details about the message of the news conference. That is why we qualify the story as inconsistent from the perspective of its informative essence.
To conclude with, we’ll find that the analyzed TV material distorted the message of the electoral event, conferring it improper connotations, and had a manipulating impact on the public opinion. Such an approach runs counter the professional norms and the principles of fair, balanced and impartial coverage of the parliamentary elections, stipulated in the Regulation on covering the elections of July 29 (approved by the decision of the Central Election Commission, no.2641 of 23 June, 2009.)
The Videomonitor is produced in the Project “Monitoring the political/electoral actors’ presence on the main television channels during the electoral campaign for the early parliamentary elections in Moldova in 2009 and enhancing the impact of the monitoring by depicting the cases of severe violation of legal provisions and professional ethics.” This project is financially supported by the Eurasia Foundation from the resources provided by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of the commentary do not necessarily share the views of the Eurasia Foundation, SIDA or USAID.