I know or have met a tremendous number of foreigners in this country over the years. Whether I’m getting paid or not, I already am the Minister of Tourism in some situations. But out of all of those foreigners, permanent residents or regular visitors, only a tiny percentage of them get paid to write about this country.
If you’re a foreigner and you don’t speak Romanian but you do speak English, there are only about six different voices that will inform you about this country. Five of those voices are individual journalists for different media outlets and one is the collective voice of some tossers in England.
The name of that collective voice is, of course, The Economist, which is somehow given respect for what is, in essence, an ancient form of anonymous blogging. They hide and obscure the identity of the author who writes every piece published on there and this somehow translates into respect from the reading public.
This means that when the shit pops up over on The Economist like it did last week then I’m forced to play Whack-a-Mole once again.
So many tropes and mischaracterizations fill this piece that it’s like fighting off a barrage of cannon fire. It is immediately obvious to any observer that there’s a metric ton of “trivia and sleaze” in the media in every country. Duh. Go to northern Finland, flip on the TV and I’m sure you’ll see some gossipy show talking about celebrities and politicians too. Hello!
And this “LC” bugger who wrote this obviously is getting this second-hand from some Romanians who told him about it. I can easily think of five more sleazy and salacious things that the news media did in the same period, one of which was live broadcasting the funeral of the brother of Nicolae Guta. What the fuck! The brother never did a single thing in the public eye his entire life. All the news cameras wanted was a shot of sad Nicolae Guta saying his last respects to his brother. And of course they got that shot.
Now that is sleazy!
So yeah there’s sleaze in the media in Romania and in UK and America and everywhere else. The real issue here though is that LC has a complete misunderstanding of what’s going on with regards to Romanian television media.
Remember, this is Romania and so not one thing about this is designed to make sense.
First of all, as you already know, Romanian news channels are not businesses. They’re run as businesses but primarily they’re used as a propaganda vehicle. Large organized power players in Romania use their news channels and information services as a broadsheet to disseminate their outlook on society. If “clan interest” trumps making a profit then they will protect the clan first and then worry about the profit second.
So any “high-minded” attempt to help out the Poor Widdle Journalists in Romania is never going to work. To solve these problems you’ve got to understand how Romanians think and you can’t just try to jam logical, sensible solutions down their throats. It won’t work that way. To get to a better resolution, you’ve got to know what’s really going on.
There are three groups of journalists in television media in Romania:
1) Reporters out in the field
2) Anchors who report and discuss the news from a television studio
3) Journalists who interview guests in the studio
The reporters out in the field are about 95% young women under 25, or sometimes slightly bit older, who quite often are remarkably physically attractive. Turn on the Romanian news for five minutes and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Seriously, there are 10 female field reporters to one guy. Friggin’ Basescu looks like Hugh Hefner surrounded by Playboy bunnies any time he has to walk through the entrance to the parliament.
Start paying attention to one particular reporter and when she disappears, turn to a different news channel and she’s probably working over there now. These “reporter bunnies” rotate rapidly and regularly between channels until they start to get older and then they’re pared down.
Anchors who sit in the studio and mostly just reel off from a teleprompter are generally older than the reporters in the field. These are the people in charge of enforcing the propaganda aspect of what the particular TV channel wants to disseminate. They mostly get it fed to them via a conveyor belt of words known as the “Teleprompter”. So you read off the words and then in the rare intervals of doing some freelance analysis or discussion about the topic at hand, you stick true to the “party line”.
So between the reporter bunnies and the guys in the studio who are literally regurgitating the propaganda message of their media owners, it’s hardly fair or realistic to expect some kind of “moral improvement” and a declaration that they will resist the temptation to fill up television screens with low-brow innuendo and gossip.
And CNA, really? Let me tell you something about the CNA, which in Romania is like the American FCC, they supposedly regulate the airwaves. If you want to understand how Romania works, I mean TRULY works, not just the high-brow talk, read this article.
It’s in Romanian and it discusses how the CNA issued fines against multiple TV channels but the TV channels never paid them. So the CNA was thinking about suspending their right to broadcast, in other words take them off the air until they do pay their outstanding fines.
That’s the lede but when you get into it further, you see that actually the CNA isn’t saying that these TV channels never paid the fine, only that they failed to produce the proof that they paid. So TV channel X says, “But dude, I paid the fine,” and the CNA says, “I believe you, bro, I just need to see the receipt.” LOL!
Then we come to find out that one member of the CNA was completely against even threatening to suspend licenses until proof of the fine could be provided. Why? Because he felt it was unfair to the channels. Do you love it? A member of governmental body that fined these TV channels feels it is unfair to collect the money it is owed!
So no, the way through here has nothing to do with the CNA, studio reporters or anchor bunnies. Ironically it’s the third group, the reporters who do a lot of interviewing in the studio, which are the bringers of hope.
It’s a remarkably and undeniably democratic process, by which a group of people are brought together to discuss specified topics and the whole thing is lengthy. It comes across initially as unexciting and boring because it is very slowly paced and sometimes a single person will talk for multiple minutes without being interrupted. And so you get this largely respectful, egalitarian affair happening where people can amply discuss the issues of the day.
Hell, they let me on these shows and it’s great that so many different voices are heard. These in-studio talks are the magical blessing of these otherwise vapid news shows. It’s essentially a town meeting with a handful of people rotating through there, all of us on stage to discuss town business and town news. It’s not what’s going on so much as what do we think about what’s going on.
And that’s the other half of what’s so great in Romania, because when I’m not the Minister of Tourism, I get to have these interactions at town meetings where it’s neighbor to neighbor. Last night the guy next to me said the word “waiting” at least seven times concerning Obama and Romania’s relationship to America. And my reply was that while I hear plenty of talk about waiting, I’d feel a hell of a lot better hearing more about doing. What is Romania planning to DO?
These town meetings are where democracy happens, not on some bimbo driven propaganda news show. It’s entertainment and everyone knows it, including the viewers at home. If six different priests want to go on TV and talk about how cremation is a sin, let ’em. People love gossip and having a topic “du jour” to endlessly discuss. So what? It’s human nature.
As long as Romania has these “boring”, democratic round tables where the issues of the day can be discussed freely, everything will be all right. So don’t worry about us too much, okay “LC”? Thanks!