Case Study. Moldova 1, Mesager, 11 July, 21.00
On July 10 , 2009, the Council of Europe (CoE) posted, on its site, a press communiqué, in which Terry Davis, the Secretary General of this European institution, expressed his attitude as to the statements broadcast by Moldova 1 on the involvement of some CoE employees in the April 7 riots in Chişinău. That statement was the leitmotiv of a commentary aired in the newscast Mesager of 11 July, at 21.00.
Terry Davis maintains that the accusations brought about by Moldova 1 are very serious and were made without presenting any concrete proof and without offering the opportunity to the European organization or to those accused to reply. “If the Moldovan State Television had contacted the Council of Europe before making these allegations, they would have been told that it is seven weeks since I wrote to the Moldovan Government and asked them to explain why one of our experts had not been allowed to return to Moldova in spite of having a valid visa. If they had asked, Moldovan State Television would have also been told that I am still waiting for a reply to my letter,” Terry Davis said.
According to the words of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, one can deduce that Moldova 1 copes with two related problems. The first is particular and is related to the opportunity of getting itself informed and to using two independent sources in controversial subjects in order to keep the balance and impartiality in reporting on events or phenomena. The second issue is more general-scale and refers to the status of the TV station Moldova 1. The commentary from the newscast Mesager on the quoted statements by Terry Davis, although tackling both problems, it actually tells of the inability or reluctance to see the problems and to address them with responsibility.
In the first case, the author suggested that the allegations about the involvement of CoE employees in the April 7 riots did not belong to the TV station Moldova 1, but to another outlet – the newspaper “Moldova Suverană” from which the television quoted the article titled “Serbian driver becomes European expert, exporter of revolutions, overnight.” The journalistic practice really recognizes it’s possible to quote articles from other media. However it does not annul, but, on the contrary, entails the responsible usage of information sources and their being diversified in order to avoid partisan or unilateral interpretations, provided the outlet is a partisan of quality journalism. Consequently, the reasons used in the analyzed commentary can be treated as shirking from recognizing that the rule of those two independent sources is used insufficiently or selectively in Moldova 1’s news, and, as a consequence, the newscasts from this TV station suffer from biasness and political partisanship.
Referring to the second issue – the status of the television Moldova 1, the author of the commentary expressed his/her disagreement with the qualifier “the Moldovan State Television”, used in the press release by the CoE Secretary General, reminding the Moldovan viewers that Moldova 1 was a public institution. The author of the commentary lectures the Europeans, at the same time, uttering the sentence: “The broadcast news is produced not to please the dignitaries of any rank. Our duty is to inform”. The journalist from Moldova 1, at the same time, neglects the relevant suggestion from the CoE’s communiqué: “Clearly Moldovan State Television has much to learn about responsible journalism”.
That suggestion, and the press release as a whole, in our opinion, is significant, because, in a manner, although laconic, it establishes what Moldova 1 should become. Responsible journalism implicitly entails political-social pluralism, diversity of sources, opinion balance, impartiality in treating events, etc. If practicing such journalism, Moldova 1 can certainly become a genuine public institution.
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.