Today, Nine O’Clock, the first daily paper in English in the entire history of Romania proudly celebrates 25 years.
“The newspaper that comes with your morning coffee to give you the power of knowledge”.
Under this slogan the first issue came out on October 10 1991. It was the day when, as you may see on the photo of the front page of the first edition of our daily paper, it had been announced the change of the Petre Roman Government and the arrival to Victoria Palace of the new cabinet, led by Theodor Stolojan.
The importance of the appearance of such a new publication on the market of Romanian media was revealed in messages published in the opening issue by the Foreign Affairs Minister of that time, Adrian Nastase, and by the National Bank Governor, Mugur Isarescu, who still holds this office even today.
The purpose of the publication was to provide foreign residents in Romania – diplomats, businesspeople, etc. – and obviously to all speakers of English – an objective, reliable and fair source of news happening here, and, in the period elapsed since the appearance of the first edition, we’ve never abdicated from these self-imposed standards.
During its 25 years of existence, Nine O’Clock actually became an interface between Romania and the world, as a special reader had pointed out in the message he had sent to us on that occasion: “Nine O’Clock proved to be a Romania’s ‘sui generis’ Ambassador in the world”.
“During its 25 years history, the publication, acting in a professional and objective manner, managed to become a reliable information vector,” underlines Romania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Lazar Comanescu in the congratulatory message sent on our 25th anniversary.
There are messages and remarks that honour us, that make us proud, that give us sense that our work really counts and is valued, there are messages that oblige us to keep going on fulfilling or mission statement.
I still remember the dialogue I had had with a distinguished Austrian diplomat, who had led for several years the Embassy in Bucharest, at the end of his mission, shortly before his return to Vienna. “I realized quite late how important your paper is for foreigners living in Romania, and for diplomats, first of all. Our messages, telegrams, reports issued here are inspired by the stories and comments published in Nine O’Clock. Based on these, the respective chapters established the policy of our countries towards Romania. In other words, you make Romania’s image”.
I half joked, but not quite, when I told the distinguished diplomat that he should tell this thing to Prime Minister Emil Boc, too, as Boc was ruling the Government at that time.
Looking back to the entire history and experience of the 25 years, we must admit that this venerable age we are celebrating today represents a performance we are very proud and honoured of. It is a performance we would hardly dare to dream about back then, when we started this “adventure” in the troubled and tormented waters of transition in Romania.
Under the circumstances that all printed media worldwide is confronted nowadays with a massively difficult time in this increasingly unfair struggle with digital, a time when, in Romania as well, due to the crisis in the last few years, many publications have disappeared off the market, we are increasingly proud of this performance to celebrate 25 years of existence.
It is undoubtedly an achievement that honours us, but, at the same time it obliges us to you, our readers who, through all the feedback you offered us, gave us motivation, each time, showing that our work made sense, giving us force and energy to keep doing it further.
Due to this reason, we were always aware that we cannot afford doing any mistakes, most of all regarding the accuracy of the information we published and the quality of our editorial content.
First of all, we would have wasted our credit as a publication in front of you, our segment of elite readers. Secondly, we could have brought our country prejudices of image by running false things, or truncated, deformed information.
And not least, the appreciation and credibility we have always enjoyed among our respected audience of readers has determined us to be always one step ahead of the other publications in Romanian mass media, as far as the most important information was concerned, and this is why we focused on permanently having the most pertinent sources of information available to us, but also quality analyses, comments and editorials that make the difference.
We must admit, though, that, as exciting as our journey up to this moment was, it was just as difficult.
It was a sinuous and challenging road, with inherent ups and downs, defining the period of transition the press experienced and continues to experience, as well as the Romanian society overall.
It was difficult, too, because of the “mission statement” we have adopted over 25 years ago: the idea of creating a DIFFERENT publication in the complicated context of Romania’s transition.
We wanted to produce an objective and accurate newspaper, that would reveal a genuine mirror of Romanian reality, with pertinent comments and analyses on top events of Romanian society and their implications on Romania’s image and its foreign affairs.
It was not easy for us, also, because we have started out on this adventure as an independent paper that was financing itself, at a time of seemingly endless transition.
Perhaps we would have had an easier time if we were part of a media trust or if we had supported the interests of certain groups. Yet, positioning ourselves in such comfort zone would have most likely required a price we could not have afforded: to make compromises from morality and professional credo, or to abdicate from our assumed principles.
Nonetheless, we preferred to keep our verticality and morality, to stay away of all kind of political and economical games of interests. We preferred to be ourselves, to pay respect to professional values, to present reality as it is and not as one group of interests sees and presents it to grant themselves advantages and supremacy upon others.
We preferred to always write what we wanted and what our conscience determined by responsibility and seriousness dictated. Without playing any games, merely reflecting the reality as it happened, while also analyzing the implications of events through our own filters. And not through what other people could have imposed or dictated us.
On the journey we have undertaken so far, we have tried various versions of design of our printed edition, where we concisely reflect everything that happens in Romania and in the world in 24 hours, until we reached the present formula.
A sentimental incursion in our print editions’ archive generates large smiles to us, because in 25 years we have collected unforgettable memories in this pioneering work to start an editorial project in Romania in another language than Romanian.
An editorial project, that since the beginning, involved additional editorial stages, in comparison with the publications in Romanian language, but also a totally different conduct and attitude regarding editorial content standards.
As you know, throughout this history of a quarter of a century, we published numerous special editions dedicated to national days, official visits to Romania by highly influential political personalities or events, seminaries, conferences, etc. We had to keep being innovative and creative as far as the diversification of our portfolio and our editorial content was concerned, to always provide articles and subjects of great interest, without compromising though in quality and credibility.
The history of Nine O’Clock includes a quarter of a century and almost 7,000 editions so far and it cannot be treated exhaustively in only one such article.
It is worth being noted in a book of memoirs that represents one of the future projects of our team. We have plenty to tell, unforgettable memories of referential moments that occurred at a time Romanian media was just starting to spread its wings, and they are worth being registered for posterity.
Throughout these 25 years, since the brand Nine O’Clock had appeared on the market, we have gained plenty of experience, wisdom, but we have also learned important and valuable lessons.
There was no instructions’ manual on how to keep on the market a niche publication, dedicated to such a selective audience as ours.
We have learned this thing day by day, by beautifully coexisting with you, our wonderful readers, who had been the finest barometer helping us to get adjusted to your exigencies, expectations and standards.
At this time of reflections and considerations generated by this venerable anniversary, it would be completely lacking fair-play to simply limit to the presentation of these aspects, without acknowledging a great reality: NINE O’CLOCK could not have existed and made it through these difficult times, we could not have continued our tremendously challenging journey without your interest, our dear readers, without the valuable feedback you have provided us throughout the time and without the support of numerous Romanian and foreign companies, that understood the important role we have assumed, and have always been by our side, helping us develop.
It is not the first time when we are saying this, and we will continue pointing this thing out: when we chose English as language of presentation in our publication, we also tried to overtake English fair-play as our major attitude of conduct.
This is why we feel determined to be fair-play to you, our readers and partners, and to express our heartfelt gratitude that you keep staying besides us in this challenging journey, that you support us and help us, offering us the required motivation to continue our work.
We thank you from the bottom of our souls, dear readers, and see you at the 26th anniversary!