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Recognizing the Best Local Television Reporting in Moldova

By Ina Grejdeanu, Independent Journalism Center

Elena Celac has been working for Sor TV for six years. She loves to talk with people, to hear about their joys and their grief, and to discover interesting stories for the TV viewers. Her work in television gives her this opportunity daily. She looks for her subjects on the street, in schools, on her way to work or home – anywhere. She is aware that the work in television requires a lot of effort and does not give up until she finds an interesting story that would help let the viewers of SOR Sor TV learn about the people and issues in Soroca and the surrounding region in the far northeast corner of Moldova.

Elena is one of many reporters who entered their work into the AICI TV Network’s first annual member production contest. The network began broadcasting earlier this year with the support of IREX’s Media Program in Moldova, seeking to address a key problem in the Moldovan media market – the lack of sustainable and professional media outlets that report on local issues. National stations and newspapers report on Chisinau and national issues but do not offer much local news. Meanwhile, local regions and towns traditionally have been served by small, under-resourced stations that have faced increasing economic pressures. As a result, they often did not have the resources or the training to produce quality local news.

With training, small grants, and market research, IREX and its partners are helping the nine member stations of the AICI network address this gap. Over the past six months, they have launched a shared daily news program and a weekly public affairs program that provide news about their communities, have begun improving their ability to attract advertising to support their operations, and have started trainings to develop the skills of local journalists.

The awards ceremony served to highlight the best news and features produced by member stations in this young network, demonstrating to the reporters how far they have come in a short time. Elena’s entry, developed with the team at her station, won first prize in the feature category. It told the story of a woman who, when she lost her job, chose to become a taxi driver so she could remain in Moldova to raise her children, rather than seeking work abroad as many of her countrymen do.

“I thought it was an interesting subject, with an interesting character. We do not really find often a female driver who transports passengers each day from one end of the city to the other. It is a nice example that conveys a positive and encouraging message. I think that people need such stories,” Ms. Celac added.

Other winners included teams from Elita TV Rezina, Elita TV Orhei, Media TV (Cimislia), VTV (Ungheni), and Eni Ay (Comrat) “…I hope this is not the last prize, because now we are viewed not only by people from Cimislia but from the entire country, thanks to the AICI network,” said the reporter Rodica Matei from Media TV. Vera Bulgaru, director of Drochia TV shares the same opinion: “Today we have received just a mention for our contribution to strengthening the AICI network through our news and reports, but we are very proud of it”, Bulgaru added.

IREX implements the Media Program in Moldova in partnership with the Independent Journalism Center (IJC) and D3 Systems, with funding by the US Agency for International Development. The AICI journalism prizes were organized by the Independent Journalism Center.