World Press Freedom Day 2018. US Embassy congratulates reporters from Romania who exclusively serve public interest and Romanians

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Romania has become a regional model for the rule of law, with many of these improvements being owed to the efforts of Romanian journalists to increase transparency, to reveal irregularities and to hold institutions and individuals accountable for their actions, shows the United States’ Embassy in a statement on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day.

The United States considers the freedom of the press to be an essential component of democratic governance. Democratic societies are not infallible, but they are responsible. Romania has become a regional model for the rule of law. Many of these improvements are the result of the decision of courageous Romanian journalists and their efforts to increase transparency, to reveal irregularities and to hold institutions and individuals accountable for their actions. We congratulate the Romanian reporters who serve exclusively the public interest and the Romanians, the US embassy said in the statement released on Thursday.

The US Embassy emphasizes that governments, NGOs, companies and ordinary people must continue to support and demand an independent press.

We must not forget that, all over the world, reporters are being violently killed, attacked for what they write and silenced for the things they witnessed. In open, democratic societies, journalists must be able to work unhindered and safely. Governments, NGOs, companies and ordinary people must continue to support – and demand – an independent press, because a nation without a free and independent press cannot prosper freely economically and democratically, the embassy says.

 

PM Dancila wishes journalists “inspiration, energy and a sharp pen” on World Press Freedom Day

 

Prime Minister Viorica Dancila on Thursday sent a message to the mass media representatives, wishing them “inspiration, energy and a sharp pen,” on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day celebrated on May 3.

“May 3 has had a special signification for the past 25 years, as the World Press Freedom Day. The journalists are always in the front line of the internal and international events, they tell and explain them, and they also hold a special role in the formation and development of the society where they use the right to express themselves and to freedom of speech, which are fundamental values. On the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day, I wish journalists to have “inspiration, energy and a sharp pen,” stated Viorica Dancila.

 

Minister for Romanians Abroad thanks journalists for globally preserving and promoting Romanian language

 

In a message delivered on the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day, Minister for Romanians Abroad Natalia-Elena Intotero thanked the journalists who preserve and promote Romanian language inside and outside country borders.

“Marking this day is an opportunity to highlight the fundamental principles of the freedom of expression, to assess the state of the media worldwide, defend mass-media independence and pay homage to the journalists who died in the line of duty. (…) My thanks go to all the media writers and voices who preserve and promote Romanian language in the country and abroad. Many happy returns to all the journalists!”, was the message of the Minister for Romanians Abroad.

Natalia-Elena Intotero also mentions that the World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993.

 

FreeEx Report: Some mass media contributed to radicalising public discourse through political partisanship

 

Some of Romania’s mass media contributed significantly to the radicalisation of the public discourse through political partisanship and the assimilation of themes imposed by politicians, with fake news contaminating the Romanian media as well and helping consolidate alternative narratives in which the actions of the politicians in power are legitimate and those of their contestants are demonised, according to the Annual Press Freedom in Romania 2017-2018 report released on Thursday.

According to the report, drawn up under the FreeEx Programme of local media watchdog Active Watch, serious ethical and professional misconduct of news channels triggered public and civil society reactions.

In the above-mentioned period, the rapporteurs consider that press attacks against magistrates coming from media outlets continued, with the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) demanding protection from the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM).

The document notes that at the end of last year a bill was drafted for easier dismissal of the management of the AGERPRES news agency.

“On October 30, 2017, the Senate adopted a bill amending the AGERPRES statutes initiated by a group of senators of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), including the then Minister of Culture and National Identity, Lucian Romascanu. The bill brought just one change in the AGERPRES statutes, namely in the way in which the director of this organisation can be dismissed. More precisely, Parliament should be empowered to dismiss the management at any time during the term in office, by rejecting the annual activity report, without including in the bill the criteria that could lead to the rejection of the report (e.g. failure to meet the objectives set out in the AGERPRES Annual Strategy),” the report says.

Several promoters of the freedom of the press in Romania and Europe, including Reporters Without Borders and the European Center for Press and Media Freedom, alongside ActiveWatch, MediaSind and other local organisations, commented that the target was obviously the urgent dismissal of the incumbent general director of AGERPRES.

According to the report, in a letter to the Senate sent by the media organisations mentioned above, before a plenary vote session, they argued that: “In fact, the mechanism under which the public television and the public radio broadcasters currently stand at the mercy of the governing party or coalition risks being enlarged to include AGERPRES. The rejection of the annual activity report of the public radio and television corporations, in the absence of clearly defined criteria in the law, has made that only one CEO of them since 2000 sit through his entire term in office, and that person, coincidentally or not, was to the Social Democratic Party’s liking.”

 

The bill, adopted by the Senate 64 to 16 and 27 abstentions, was criticised among others by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Federation of Journalists, according to the report, which mentions that at the time it was being drawn up, the bill was being under consideration with the specialist committees of the Chamber of Deputies, but the deadline for its submission to the Committee on Culture, Arts and Mass Media, November 28, 2017, had been long expired.”

At the same time, according to the Annual Press Freedom in Romania 2017-2018 report, politicians continue to change the legislation regulating the functioning of public media services so that they can retain control over their management.

“The people at rule following the December 2016 election imposed new management teams on TVR and SRR, while discarding the radio and TV charge fees after several failed attempts by politicians over the previous years, thus increasing the two organisations’ dependence on political power.”

The report reveals that there were two proposals to improve the Law on Access to Information of Public Interest 544/2001, one of which was rejected by the Senate, and the second waiting for the opinions of the select committees.

“A number of legislative initiatives that are toxic to freedom of speech continue to be delayed in Parliament, rather than being rejected. In Romania, Internet legislation practically does not exist, and the chance of a reform to increase transparency in the way of administration was fully missed once the minister who had begun a public debate was removed from office. The ‘anti-rebate’ ordinance, which regulates media advertising money, was abrogated,” adds the report.