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The Media Is the Media Enemy

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17 Dec 2004 - 00:00

December 17th 2004
I was certain that no one could harm Romania worse than its politicians could. I was wrong. This year the media people outdid the politicians in that regard. The much loathed politicians have armies of look-alikes in the media outlets. Rough or sophisticated clones of the originals, these media people turned into true smoke-screen machines during the electoral campaign.

by DORIN TUDORAN

It is almost impossible to tell if a commentator rants against [PM Adrian] Nastase’s arrogance because he simply dislikes that attitude or because he himself was unable to reach that level of arrogance. As it is equally impossible to tell if another commentator says [President elect Traian] Basescu is lacking manners from genuine dislike of the character or for frustration he could not emulate it.

The same stays true for the immense wealth some politicians acquired while in office. Are journalists ranting against politicians because they disapprove of the way they got their wealth, or because they are envious their own wealth is not yet as big as that of the politicians?

It is almost like a national sport for the media moguls to cry during day-time that millions of people live under the poverty line, while counting at night their million of dollars or euros.

A lot of politicians are frowned upon for having the means to send their children to study in the West. But more often than not, the inflammatory dispatches are sent from luxury hotel rooms by journalist living there while visiting their own children studying abroad.

The same stays true for the collections of paintings, Galle vases, tapestries, luxury cars, villas in the country side or in exotic locations abroad that politicians reportedly amassed, while not telling that media owners are not far behind them. I thought no one could harm more Romanian media than politicians could. I was wrong. This year the media people turned to be the worst enemies of the mass-media.

The hardest they cried against the interference in news coverage from economic and political power houses, the more they fell in line with political groups and wealthy trade-unionists. The rank-and-file in the media looked up at their leaders to get the "right kind of tone" to strike, and they certainly got it.

A good number of political foes will embrace each other after the political fight has ended, and cut large portions of the big pie Romania still is to them. The journalists who served their interests will still be cross with each other for a while, or maybe not. Reminding themselves that they are but clones of politicians they will cut slices for themselves from the leftovers of the politicians’ feast.

The soul-searching moment Basescu [arrived at in the only one-on-one televised political debate when he stated that the electorate had not much of a choice between two reformed communists like himself and Nastase were] left many journalists with their jaws dropped in admiration and Nastase’s in envious spite.

Now it’s the time for the media people to ask themselves which was their contribution to the misfortune of Romanians having to choose between two reformed communists, one not having the presidential looks, the other not having the presidential character. 2044 could have been a historical year. Instead it was a hysterical year. And the media’s contribution to this outcome was of the essence. Too many journalists enthusiastically embarked on a career as "undertakers of public life," as famously Thomas Jefferson called them, him of all people - the one who so fiercely defended the freedom of the press.

Translation : ANCA PADURARU
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