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23 September 2013
Public interest - a priority in journalist’s work

Fifteen editors, reporters, designers and photographers from „SP”, „Ecoul Nostru” and „Unghiul” newspapers attended the in-house training session „Journalistic ethics: deontology norms and real practice”, organised in Baltsi on September 19, 2013. The respective seminar approached the most frequent ethical and deontology problems which API-member editorial offices encounter during their professional activity and provided solutions to overcome them.

The journalistic ethics expert, Ion Bunduchi, assessed the trainees’ knowledge in the field of ethics and professional deontology by means of a specialised test. Among many other things, the trainees were questioned about: the legislation regulating this domain; sanctions or punishments foreseen for breaking the ethical norms, especially for plagiarism; manner of acting when being forced to reveal the source’s name; when they receive presents from politicians or authorities; what would be more important to the journalists - the public interest or the interest of the public, etc. Simultaneously, the participants described the most frequent ethical problems which they face day by day and to which they do not have appropriate solutions. Such issues concern the cases when journalists do not know how to interfere with an advertising material without distorting the content and form, or when they meet difficulties while contacting sources related to controversial materials, dilemmas concerning broadcasting of materials featuring children as protagonists, etc. The representatives of the three publications were provided solutions on how to overcome each separate case.

Alongside with theoretical aspects, the training participants had the task to edit the selected materials and news items from the newspapers they represented. The trainer pointed out at certain detected mistakes, including while selecting and posting pictures and captions, favouring certain institutions and persons, exposing personal data, non-complying with the presumption of innocence, etc. I. Bunduchi introduced several useful pieces of advice to be constantly taken into account by journalists: the information should be obtained only by legal means (except for certain cases of major public interest); children in difficulty SHOULD NOT appear in images, except for cases when being wanted; the journalist should not perform justice nor accuse anyone, and neither should he/she act as a fighting stick during political disputes etc.; he/she should not manipulate the public opinion or disclose the identity of sources, provided there is the danger of generating serious consequences for them.

In the light of discussions, including about the protection of sources’ identity, Veaceslav Perunov, director of „SP” newspaper, made reference to a specific situation from his own experience: „SP” published a material criticising the management of a market in Baltsi, and the newspaper did not publish the names of persons who furnished information about the offences committed by the market management. When brought to court, the Court instance decided it was correct not to disclose the identity of sources, since the respective persons were employees of the market and there could be negative consequences for them”, V. Perunov mentioned.

Valentina Slotina, deputy editor-in-chief at „Unghiul” newspaper claimed the newspaper she represented had frequent dilemmas with regard to the publication of citizens’ feedback at the column „Telephone of trust”: „These points of view are most frequently critical in relation to authorities and citizens insist on their publication. Unfortunately, the authorities do not often hurry to satisfy the requests. Thus, we are in a difficult position whether to publish their comments now or postpone them until authorities answer their questions. In some cases we publish the opinions, whereas the replies from authorities are published in other editions, although it would be ideal to publish the contradictory opinions in the same edition of the newspaper”, V. Slotina specified.

Mariana Danga, editor stylist and advertising manager at „Ecoul Nostru” newspaper appreciated the quality of information provided during the training and its usefulness: „I was provided with solutions for posting advertising, as well as photographs, complying with ethical rules. As well, we grasped a very important thing: everything we publish in our newspapers should meet the needs of our readers”, M. Danga mentions.

API follows to conduct other three in-house training sessions focused on ethical issues in Soroca, Cimişlia and Chisinau.

The event occurred under the project: “Strengthening journalistic ethics and promoting an anti-discrimination campaign in mass-media”, financed by Civil Rights Defenders.

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