Journalists, representatives of civil society, and the Moldovan School of Journalism participated on 3 May in a flashmob entitled #StopTheWar! organized by the Independent Journalism Center (IJC). The event, held in front of the Russian Embassy in Moldova, took place on World Press Freedom Day and aimed to highlight the consequences of the war in Ukraine on the free and independent press.
The slogan “United for press freedom. Truth cannot be suppressed!” stressed the importance of journalists working in a safe environment without being persecuted. Participants in the flash mob held placards with the slogan #StopTheWar! as well as cartoons illustrating issues such as the killing of journalists reflecting Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the oppression of the press in Russia, and the spread of propaganda around the world.
IJC Executive Director Nadine Gogu said in her speech to journalists that one year after the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine began, we note with concern an increase in the number of media professionals who have lost their lives while covering the war, some of whom have even been executed.
Nadine Gogu said that with this action, Moldovan journalists are showing solidarity with journalists who are professionally covering the war in Ukraine, as well as Wall Street Journal journalist Evan Gershkovich, who was arrested in Moscow, and Russian journalists who have been sentenced to prison for simply speaking out.
“Unfortunately, for the second year in a row, we are coming to the Russian Embassy in Chisinau to report on the consequences of the war on the free and independent press. We want to stress the importance of journalists working in a safe environment without being persecuted,” said Anastasia Nani, deputy director of the Independent Journalism Center.
Attending the event, TV8 journalist Mariana Rata stressed that the authorities can intervene when the law is broken when there is unfair competition in the media, but respect for the journalistic profession must be earned through good practice. “Russia has gone virtually beyond any limits in suppressing the independent press, not only in Russia. Such abuses by a political power must be condemned by journalists all over the world,” added Mariana Rata.
On World Press Freedom Day, the Independent Journalism Center, together with eight other media NGOs, launched the Memorandum on Press Freedom in the Republic of Moldova for the period 3 May 2022 – 3 May 2023. Among over problems, the document reports several problems affecting the media in this period, such as low resilience to crises, lack of financial sustainability, obstruction of the right of access to information, and erosion of public trust in information.
The memo points to minor improvements in several areas that affect the exercise of the social mission of the media. However, progress cannot be described as a stable trend. The signatories of the document note the adverse effects of the tense political, social, and economic context during the period 3 May 2022 – 3 May 2023 on the work of the free and independent press.
They also reveal reprehensible slips by malicious political actors against the press, especially at the regional and local level. In addition to the challenges to press security that pre-existed the outbreak of war in Ukraine.
The cyber security of several media institutions and the vulnerability of Moldova’s information space to hybrid threats are among the problems that have affected the media in the last year, according to the Memorandum on Freedom of the Press in the Republic of Moldova for the period 3 May 2022 – 3 May 2023.
The signatories of the memo note that between 3 May 2022 and 3 May 2023, press freedom in the Republic of Moldova was affected by serious problems, marked by a tense political, social, and economic context.
Among other things, the authors refer to the impact of the war in Ukraine on the media in the Republic of Moldova, pointing out that, in addition to the challenges to press security that existed before the outbreak of the conflict, the military aggression has generated new risk factors for journalists, such as the obstruction of the cyber security of several media outlets and the danger to which war correspondents are exposed.
Similarly, “the Russian Federation’s extensive military aggression against Ukraine has also increased the vulnerability of Moldova’s information space to hybrid threats. In the period under review, being on alert, the authorities were concerned on a large scale with information security and managed to make some legislative changes. On a practical level, the Broadcasting Council (BC) has made efforts to reduce the flow of falsehoods and disinformation in the audiovisual sector through monitoring and sanctions. The efforts of the BC at the end of the year were complemented by the suspension of the broadcasting licenses of six TV stations by a decision of the Commission for Exceptional Situations (CES). Several civil society organizations expressed critical views on the restrictive measures imposed by the CES. According to the signatories of some statements, ’convincing arguments and hard evidence should have backed the authority’s actions, ensuring that doubts about the legality and proportionality of the interference were excluded. Moreover, the effect of the actions is reduced as long as the online space remains unsecured,” the document says.
The authors of the memo also note “the Russian Federation’s strategic and aggressive efforts to impose the aggressor state’s narratives on the public to influence the situation in the region, including the Republic of Moldova”.
The memo contains a series of recommendations to the Government and Parliament which, if implemented, would help to encourage and protect a free press. Among other things, it recommends improving the decision-making process of the Broadcasting Council, to protect the public from war propaganda, but without affecting press freedom, or strengthening institutional capacities to counter propaganda, disinformation, and media falsehoods.
Moldovan President Maia Sandu announced at a briefing on 29 May the legislative initiative to create the National Center for Information Defense and Fight against Propaganda PATRIOT. The head of state said that the draft law will be submitted to public consultations and by the end of June will be sent to Parliament.
According to the source, the PATRIOT Center will be tasked with coordinating and implementing the state’s information security policy and ensuring strategic communication to identify, prevent and combat disinformation at the national level. The institution will have two core responsibilities. First, it is to convey truthful information to the public and ensure a constant dialogue with citizens, as well as working with all state institutions to promote national interests and increase society’s resilience in the face of disinformation. Secondly, the Center will be responsible for identifying, assessing, and combating disinformation, as well as eliminating the risks posed by hybrid threats and disinformation to national security.
The authors of the legislative initiative note that the country lacks a communication framework program for building resilience and there are shortcomings in constructing targeted messages in response to disinformation. There is also a lack of clear mechanisms to measure the impact of disinformation and the effectiveness of government communication.
The draft law defines, among other things, misinformation, falsehood, propaganda, and fact-checking.
The document stipulates that the Center will be headed by a director, appointed by Parliament on the proposal of the President of the Republic of Moldova, for a five-year term, with the possibility of appointment for another term. The director of the Center will be selected through a public competition, announced and organized by the President of the Republic of Moldova, in accordance with a regulation approved by decree. The Director will be assisted by a deputy, appointed by the Head of State on the proposal of the Director of the Center. The institution would have 24 employees.
A college of 11 members will also be set up within the Center, comprising the Director, the Deputy Director, senior officials from the Center, one representative each from the Presidency, Parliament, and Government, and three representatives of civil society. In its meetings, the College will examine issues relating to the organization of the Center’s work, the resolution of urgent problems, and the professional evaluation of the management of the institution.
The parliamentary committees would supervise and verify the Center’s compliance with the provisions of the legal acts governing its activity, respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms in identifying, preventing, and combating disinformation, and the non-admissibility of the Center’s political involvement.
According to the document, the President of the Republic of Moldova will coordinate the work of the Center. The head of state will have the role of initiating the process of drafting the national strategic communication program, approving it, and monitoring its implementation.
The Press Freedom Index 2023, released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on 3 May, reveals that in two-thirds of the 180 countries assessed, political actors were often or systematically involved in massive disinformation or propaganda campaigns, which substantially dilutes the difference between accurate and false information. The negative effect of artificial intelligence tools on the media is also mentioned.
The authors of the report point out that freedom of the press in Europe is marked by the war in Ukraine. The conflict has served as a breeding ground for an increase in propaganda from Russia (164th place), which fell a further nine places in the 2023 Index.
According to this year’s results, the situation is rated “very bad” in 31 countries, “bad” in 42, “problematic” in 55, and “good” or “satisfactory” in 52. In other words, conditions for the media are “bad” in seven out of ten countries and satisfactory in only three out of ten.
The Republic of Moldova ranks 28th this year. The country moved up 12 places in the ranking compared to last year, with the media situation rated by experts as satisfactory. Despite the jump in numbers, the RSF reports similar problems as before. In addition to the polarization and political control of the media space mentioned last year, when Moldova ranked 40th, the organization points to the influence of Ilan Shor on the media, a pro-Kremlin oligarch in self-imposed exile to escape prosecution on corruption charges. However, the licenses of six pro-Russian TV channels were suspended in December 2022, the report notes.
The Republic of Moldova ranks 28th in the World Press Freedom Index for 2023, released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Despite the jump in numbers, RSF points to similar problems as before.
In addition to the persistent problems of polarization and political control of the media space, also mentioned last year when Moldova ranked 40th, RSF highlights the influence of Ilan Shor on the media. However, the licenses of six pro-Russian TV channels were suspended in December 2022, the report notes.
Politically, the authors point out that the state of emergency imposed by the authorities in response to the Russian Federation’s aggression in neighboring Ukraine, as well as measures taken by the Broadcasting Council have tightened control over disinformation and hate speech and undermined media outlets broadcasting Russian-produced propaganda content. Even so, access to information is often jeopardized and arbitrary libel suits are common. On the economic side, the Index refers to unfair competition in the advertising market and the financial problems of independent media outlets in the country, which have to rely on foreign donor funds.
“This 12-place increase is due to some extent to the progress made last year in the press freedom segment, which is also noted in our internal reports,” says Nadine Gogu, executive director of the Independent Journalism Center. According to her, it is worth noting that security or socio-cultural factors are usually quite favorable for media activity in the country, but in the Republic of Moldova there are no cases of assassinations or physical attacks on journalists, and minority or religious groups can create and distribute content without restrictions. The political context was also more favorable last year. The legislative framework has been improved in some areas and brought in line with European standards, and the current Broadcasting Council has done a better job than its predecessors. From an economic perspective, there is still growth, even if the perception among the profession is different.
The IJC Director also noted that the RSF’s Press Freedom Index assesses the situation from the perspective of political, economic, socio-cultural, and security contexts, and data collection is quite technical.
The Broadcasting Council approved on 26 May the methodology to monitor hate speech in radio and TV programs. Currently, the Audiovisual Media Services Code prohibits the broadcasting of programs constituting hate speech in the national broadcasting space.
The methodology for monitoring hate speech in audiovisual media content is based on two international tools used in the process of assessing and sanctioning hate speech, namely the Rabat Action Plan and the TRCPD triple test.
The document is based on the guide “Combating hate speech in the audiovisual media in the Republic of Moldova”, developed as part of a Council of Europe project to assess and process such cases.
The Code of Audiovisual Media Services (CAMS), adopted in 2018, is the only organic law in the Republic of Moldova that regulates̆ hate speech in an extended version (Article 1) and sets clear sanctions for this type of speech in audiovisual media. It defines as hate speech a message which propagates, incites, promotes or justifies racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance or discrimination based on sex, race, nationality, religion or belief, disability or sexual orientation.
According to the new methodology, the Broadcasting Council (BC) can impose fines ranging from 40,000 lei (2,000 euro) to 70,000 lei (3,500 euro) for a first violation, from 70,000 lei (3,500 euro) to 100,000 lei (5,000 euro) for repeated violations and the withdrawal of the broadcasting license after the gradual application of sanctions.
The draft of the new law on access to information has been voted in the first reading by MEPs. The document provides, among other things, for the abolition of the obligation to sign access to information requests and a reduction in the deadline for responding to requests. On the other hand, media experts and journalists have previously warned of several shortcomings, and several NGOs have launched a public appeal calling for broad consultations on the parliamentary platform.
The document, among other things, defines information of public interest as all information held by information providers, which it lists. It states that any natural or legal person has the right of access to information of public interest, without any discrimination whatsoever; it lists the modalities of access to information, the conditions under which access may be limited, procedures for requests for access to information or rules on personal data, etc.
The Moldovan Independent Journalism Center’’s Media Azi portal previously wrote that, according to some experts and lawyers, the text contained several gaps. The concerns remained valid after the Cabinet of Ministers approved the draft law.
An appeal launched on 13 April by several non-governmental organizations referred to a restrictive definition of public information, the introduction of exceptions that make the proportionality criterion inapplicable in limiting access to information; the lack of clear criteria on quality and format for proactive publication of information, as well as an effective mechanism for monitoring and implementing the law; too long terms for accessing information, especially for journalists. The signatories called on the legislature to organize broad and representative consultations on the draft.
The document is due to be examined at the second reading in the plenary of Parliament.
The agreements on the creation and activity of the inter-state television MIR have been denounced. The legislative initiative was voted in final reading on Thursday 11 May by 56 MPs, after such an initiative was previously approved by the Government.
According to the voted document, this decision is aimed at protecting the national audiovisual space and ensuring information security, considering the current regional situation and the danger to national security caused by the Russian Federation’’s aggression against Ukraine. The Parliament states that in the period 2000 – 2022, the state budget paid over 40 million lei from the state budget to the Moldovan representative office of MIR.
The IJC portal, Media Azi, wrote that on 4 April the government decided to stop paying contributions to the inter-state television MIR, and on April 19, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the denunciation of agreements on the creation and activity of the institution. At present, Mir TV and Mir 24, which are common for the CIS area, do not hold a broadcasting license issued by the Broadcasting Council and are not media service providers in Moldova. “It is the sovereign right of each state to decide on the presence or absence of international projects or participation in certain agreements. We regret the decision, but we do not condemn it,” Stanislav Vijga, the director of MIR’’s Moldova office, told the Media Azi portal earlier.
Meanwhile, the institution sued the Finance Ministry after the authorities failed to transfer 2.6 million lei to the company that was to be allocated from the state budget in 2022. The first hearing on the case will take place in November 2023.
An application by the IPN news agency to defend its honor, dignity, and professional reputation has been dismissed by the magistrates as unfounded. The case concerned a press conference broadcast by the media institution about disputes between the founders of the “Da Vinci” private high school in Chisinau and their former business partner. The decision was taken at first instance on April 5, 2023 by the Chisinau Court of First Instance, Centru seat.
According to data on the national portal, on August 12, 2022, lawyer Ion Dorogoi filed a lawsuit against IPN. The lawyer asked the news agency to deny the allegedly defamatory and, he claims, factually unsubstantiated information presented by Adrian Balan against the Guzun family at a press conference held on June 16. The theme of the conference was the “Da Vinci” High School in Chisinau, “an instrument of intimidation through the legal system and camouflage of criminal schemes for the Guzun family” and was held by the lawyer Adrian Balan, former business partner of the family concerned, and his lawyer, Cristina Doga.
In the same context, it is mentioned that IPN published the text version of the press conference on its webpage and distributed the video of the event on the agency’’s Facebook and YouTube pages. Lawyer Ion Dorogoi argued that under freedom of expression law, the defendant in defamation cases can include the person who spread the information, in this case – IPN. The news agency, for its part, annotated the text version of the conference with the statement that it “offers the right of reply to persons who consider themselves targeted in the news made on the statements of the organizers of this press conference, including by facilitating the organization of another press conference under similar conditions“.
The court found the action to be unfounded. The judgment may be appealed to the Chisinau Court of Appeal within 30 days of its delivery.
The Broadcasting Council (BC) has fined Publika TV, Zona M, and TVC 21 from 15,000 lei (750 euro) to 20,000 lei (1,000 euro) for insufficient local content in Romanian. The decision was taken at the meeting on 19 May by unanimous vote.
On April 21, 2023, the BC ordered the monitoring of Publika TV, Orizont TV, Zona M, TVC 21, and TV Gagauzia. This was after at the last control they violated the legal obligation to broadcast at least 80% of local audiovisual programs in Romanian of all local programs broadcast. The monitoring of Orizont TV and TV Gagauzia was postponed to a later meeting, as further comments from the BC were needed.
“Zona M and TVC 21 did not improve their performance at all. The last control showed the same results, i.e., zero Romanian content. At Publika TV the situation has improved slightly, not by much, but the difference is smaller than before”, said BC Vice-President Aneta Gonta. She opted for minimum penalties for Publika TV, due to the improvement in the proportion of local content in Romanian but called for maximum fines for Zona M and TVC 21.
According to the classifications, Publika TV, Zona M, and TVC 21 have the status of national private providers and are obliged to broadcast local audiovisual programs with a minimum daily duration of at least eight hours.
The Broadcasting Council (BC) has fined the regional public broadcaster TV Gagauzia a total of 11,000 lei (550 euro) twice for personal attacks and discrimination against journalist Mihail Sirkeli and for lack of good faith in distorting the journalist’s message. The decision was taken at a meeting on 19 May, according to a press release from the BC.
On the April 7 news program “Special Report” (in original, “Специальный репортаж”), several guests analyzed the statements of the journalist of the Nokta.md portal Mihail Sirkeli, previously released on the TV8 program “Black Box”, referring to the competencies of the Gagauz region in the field of regulation and security of information space, as well as in the field of elections.
According to the source, the Chairman of the Gagauz People’s Assembly, Dmitry Constantinov, made accusations and insults against the journalist, including for not taking a stance on the alleged illegalities carried out by state institutions, without specifying what they were. Dmitry Constantinov’s statements on the war in Ukraine also lacked factual support. According to him, the main culprits of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine are the West, France, and Germany, who never had any intention of resolving the conflict peacefully. The program continued with statements by Stepan Piron, president of the Independent Journalism Center of Gagauzia, who said that Mikhail Sirkeli was unpatriotic, uneducated, and ignorant of his people’’s history.
The BC monitoring report found that Mihail Sirkeli’’s statements on the TV8 show were neutral, not accusatory, and did not refer to the need to limit the region’s competencies, while the comments of the protagonists distorted his message with rhetoric based on personal attacks. Therefore, a fine of 6,000 lei (300 euro) was imposed for repeated violation of the provision of the Audiovisual Media Services Code (AMSC), according to which media providers must inform correctly about a fact or an event, and the information must be verified and presented impartially and in good faith. TV Gagauzia was fined a further 5,000 lei (250 euro) for repeated violations of the provision requiring the avoidance of any form of discrimination.
The BC has ordered the withdrawal of the broadcasting license of TV channel 10 TV, as it would end its broadcasting in the territory of the Republic of Moldova, without giving a reason for the decision. The decision was unanimously approved by the members of the Council at its meeting on May 19.
According to information, on May 3, 2023, the periodical Timpul de dimineata (The Morning Time) submitted an application to terminate the broadcasting license for TV channel 10 TV, citing the cessation of broadcasting audiovisual content.
Media Azi has previously written about the abuses of 10 TV. In 2021, for example, the Press Council found that the TV channel and the 10tv.md portal had violated the provisions of the Code of Ethics of Journalists in Moldova by unauthorizedly taking images and using them in journalistic material that distorted the meaning and context presented by the rights holder of the images.
Following that year’s election campaign, the BC imposed the most sanctions on TV 10 TV, totaling 32,000 lei (1600 euro), for several violations, ranging from failure to communicate the previous sanction, repeated violations of the requirements of correct information, failure to interpret the translation of messages into mime-gesture language, to violation of the conditions of the broadcasting license.
Last year, the BC fined the broadcaster 17,000 lei (850 euro) after it broadcast a higher volume of Romanian audiovisual programs to the detriment of local broadcasts. It also failed to respect the percentage reserved for European audiovisual works, informative and analytical programs, and educational and cultural programs, which led to an increase in the volume of films broadcast, a category for which the audiovisual media service provider indicated 0%.
The Broadcasting Council (BC) has reversed its decision to sanction Elita TV for allegedly failing to comply with the obligation to bring the sound level of audiovisual programs in line with that used for advertising. The decision was taken at a meeting on 12 May.
On December 23, 2022, the BC fined the regional provider Elita TV 5,000 lei (250 euro). The decision was taken after examining a monitoring report on ten TV stations, which revealed, among other things, that Elita TV had committed deviations in the sound level when broadcasting the “Moldova for Peace” spot, which the BC categorized as audiovisual commercial communication.
The sanctioning decision was appealed in court on February 9, 2023. In its appeal, the media institution argued that the video spot falls into the category of public service announcements and does not represent a commercial communication, for the non-compliant broadcasting of which the BC would be entitled to impose sanctions. The provider recalled that on March 11, 2022, the BC recommended all TV stations broadcast several spots promoting the “Moldova for Peace” campaign, i.e., public interest messages.
At the BC meeting on May 12, 2023, Grigore Chitanu, head of the authority’s legal section, proposed to the members to examine the appropriateness of canceling the sanction. “After analyzing the request for legal action, it was found that some errors were made when adopting the decision,” he said.
The decision to annul the sanction imposed on the provider Elita TV for (non)compliance with the obligation to bring the sound level of audiovisual programs in line with that used for advertising was approved by the votes of all six members present at the meeting.
How to understand Moldova’s 28th place in the World Press Freedom Index? Does the 28th place out of 180 in the Reporters Without Borders ranking mean that the Moldovan press is no longer facing so many problems? Nadine Gogu, executive director of the Independent Journalism Center, and Nicolae Cuschevici, journalist and editor at RISE Moldova, explore the issue in a new edition of Media Azi.
The Independent Journalism Center (IJC), in partnership with the Embassy of the Netherlands in Chisinau, awarded the prizes in the third edition of the Tulip Press Awards on Tuesday, May 23. The competition was launched in March to support and appreciate the efforts of journalists who highlight various aspects of human rights (non)respect in Moldova.
The competition, held in two sections (Online/Print and Video) encouraged journalists to address various topics related to the respect of human rights in their press materials to raise public awareness on this issue in Moldova and also make the authorities more accountable to the needs of the people.
The Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Chisinau, Fred Duijn, explained in his speech at the award ceremony that the diplomatic mission supports the issue of human rights in the Republic of Moldova because it is connected to freedom. At the same time, it takes skills to be able to write about these issues professionally”, said Fred Duijn.
IJC Executive Director Nadine Gogu said that the Tulip Press Awards are the last event of the Press Freedom Days, which take place throughout May, and that this is a good opportunity to raise the issue of human rights.
The winners of the third edition of the Tulip Press Awards were: in the Online Press/Press Section Ana Bejenaru, (Moldova.org), Polina Cupcea, (People and Kilometers) and Iuliana Volcova, BAStv. In the Video Section – Adela Shevciuc (CU SENS), Natalia Sergheev (Radio Free Europe), and Daria Slobodcicova (NewsMaker).
The six winners in the Online/Print and Video categories each received a prize of €300.
Please note that in the Tulip Press Awards 2023 competition, 13 entries were submitted in the Online Press/Press section and 11 in the Video section.
The competition is organized by the IJC with the financial support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Chisinau.
The Independent Journalism Center (IJC) will organize a Hackathon in Chisinau on June 23-25, 2023, this time under the generic title “Solutions for Inclusion”. Participants are encouraged to develop tools, platforms, or applications that will promote inclusion and diversity, thus increasing the chances of involvement of socially vulnerable and marginalized groups in public life. The jury will select three winners who will receive grants of €7,000 each for the further development and implementation of their projects.
The event is open to teams made up of representatives of non-governmental organizations active in the field of Human Rights, in whose work inclusion, diversity, and civic engagement are key principles, IT developers, programmers, designers, bloggers, journalists, community leaders, active citizens who can get involved and contribute to the promotion of inclusion, diversity, tolerance, and human rights.
Teams should register for the competition with a project idea that corresponds to the event’s purpose.
During the hackathon, local and international experts and mentors will provide teams with advice and expertise to develop their project ideas.
The registration form must be completed by June 15, 2023.
The Hackathon “Solutions for Inclusion” is organized in the framework of the project “Promoting Social Cohesion in Moldova by Fostering Inclusion and Diminishing Discrimination” carried out by the Independent Journalism Center in the framework of the program “Joint Equal Opportunities Initiative – Phase II”, implemented with the support of the Government of Switzerland.
For six years, the optional subject Media Literacy has been part of the school curriculum, during which time more than 16,200 pupils across the country have learned how to behave online.
In the current school year alone, 131 educators, who had developed media literacy with the help of the IJC in previous years, taught the optional subject of Media Literacy to 4,319 pupils in 105 schools across the country.
In a summary article published on the Mediactitica.md portal, the IJC reviews the main activities promoting Media Literacy. These include The Media Literacy – Priority in My School competition; Media Literacy Week; PikPok.online@guguta show, in Romanian and Russian.
Another achievement is the publication of Media Literacy manuals for primary, secondary, and high school – which today exceed 15 thousand copies. The textbooks can also be accessed electronically on the Media Education platform.
Other activities include Media Literacy Trainings, through which 647 teachers have passed, and Media Literacy in Russian-language schools in Balti, Taraclia, and other localities in the country.
The Podcast cuMINTE, the only media education podcast in the Republic of Moldova, has also contributed to the promotion of media literacy. In the 12 episodes aired so far, experts have explained various concepts related to propaganda, disinformation, and manipulation through the media. In this context, the IJC has also organized the contest for high school students “Podcast withMINTE challenges you to think critically”.
In December 2022, the IJC renewed its commitment to promote the optional subject “Media Education” by signing a new Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Education and Research. And in 2023, in partnership with DW Akademie, the IJC launched a new project Media Literacy – Integrated Approach.
Also in 2022, the portal Mediacritica launched the column – Pe Inteles (On the understanding), in which complex media concepts and issues are explained in an accessible way.
The Independent Journalism Center organizes media education activities in the framework of the project “Strengthening Media Education Skills in the Republic of Moldova”, supported by Deutsche Welle Akademie and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, within the project “Media Enabling Democracy, Inclusion and Accountability in Moldova (MEDIA-M)”, implemented by Internews in Moldova, funded by USAID and UK, under the project “Boosting Support to Russian Language independent media and media literacy efforts”, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, under the project “Promoting media literacy among citizens through quality media content”, implemented with the support of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR).
The Independent Journalism Centre (IJC) launched on May 29 and put out for public consultation the first version of the National Information and Media Literacy Program for the period 2024-2026. Discussions were attended by authorities, representatives of civil society, academia, and the donor community.
The aim of the document is for the authorities to prioritize the field of information and media literacy in line with Moldova’s international commitments. The IJC initiated the drafting of this document in February 2023, and civil society organizations working in the field of information and media literacy and countering propaganda and disinformation participate in the process.
According to the current version of the document, the Ministry of Education and Research has the main responsibility in this area.
The IJC initiated the development of the National Information and Media Literacy Program within the framework of the IMS-supported project “Creation of a coalition of stakeholders for national MIL strategy on media literacy and combating misinformation”. Within the framework of the project, the IJC aimed to develop public policies that would outline the development directions of the field of information and media literacy in the Republic of Moldova, as well as to establish an action plan for actors involved in activities related to this field. The first version of this document has been elaborated with the contribution of civil society organizations in the Republic of Moldova that carry out and support media literacy activities and combat disinformation and propaganda.
The program will be finalized once the State Chancellery has approved the concept of the document.
A survey conducted by Internews Moldova – on public perception of the media and media skills in the Republic of Moldova – reveals that more than half of the population is dissatisfied with the media in the Republic of Moldova. On the other hand, more than 60% of citizens say they feel informed about what is happening in the country in general.
According to the survey, 41% of those interviewed are rather dissatisfied with the press in our country, and 16% say they are very dissatisfied. On the other hand, 48% of respondents say they feel mostly informed about what is happening in general in the Republic of Moldova, and 15% feel very informed.
The authors of the survey note that while the percentage of respondents who were very satisfied with the quality of the media (6%) and those who were deeply dissatisfied with it (16%) have remained constant over the past three years, the proportion of participants who were more dissatisfied with the media in the country has increased slightly. At the same time, the share of people who feel very informed about events in the country is gradually decreasing.
The authors of the survey claim that all participants in the discussion showed that they know about several topical issues, such as the war in Ukraine and its influence on our country, the release of Igor Dodon from house arrest, and the anti-government protests organized by the Shor Party. And topics such as electricity disconnections in Moldova or the appointment of ministers are less well known.
The Internews Moldova survey was conducted with 1,374 respondents. Data were collected using qualitative and quantitative research methods between 12 December 2022 and 13 January 2023.
The Internews Moldova survey also reveals an increase in media consumers distinguishing fake news from real news. Compared to the 2020 survey, in 2022, all five news stories were correctly identified by 12% of the surveyed population, compared to 8% in 2020, the research shows.
Respondents were presented with five news stories, two of which were true and three – false, and asked to identify them. 62% of respondents correctly identified the true news, such as “Moldova’s achievement of EU candidate status means more EU funds and support for the development and reform of the country”. However, the second true story – “the volume of Moldovan exports to EU countries is 61% and to Russia 5%” – was correctly identified by only 35% of respondents, and 43% of them considered it false, the research said.
In terms of identifying fake news, more than half of those surveyed correctly identified all the fake news presented, such as “Russia has started special operation in Ukraine to denazify and demilitarize neighboring countries, bombing only military points, not civilian ones”.
The authors of the survey note an increasing trend in distinguishing fake news from real news. Compared to a similar exercise in 2020, four out of five news stories were correctly identified (true or false) by every third respondent, while in 2020, every fifth respondent gave the same result. At the same time, more than half of respondents (54%) correctly characterized three out of five news stories, a 10-percentage point increase compared to the 2020 survey result.
The data presented in the report was collected using a mixed methodology, combining qualitative and quantitative research. For the qualitative research, where two focus groups were conducted with representatives of the general population from both urban and rural areas of the municipality.
The share of those who believe news in Moldova is influenced by politics is increasing, the Internews Moldova survey shows.
49% of respondents say they are not sure whether the sources they follow are truly independent. Also, more than a third of those who say they follow news only from independent sources say they watch Jurnal TV (36%) and ProTV Chisinau (35%).
According to the data, the opinion that news in Moldova is influenced by politics persists among respondents, with this indicator increasing over the last four years.
Compared to the 2020 and 2018 surveys, there is an increase in the share of those who believe they know what fake news is and what is manipulation in the media, the authors of the study note. On the other hand, 60% of those surveyed in 2022 say they know what propaganda in the media means, compared to 44% who held the same opinion in 2020 and 34% – in 2018. More than 70% of respondents strongly agree that news is fake when journalists deliberately present untrue information as if it were true.
Similarly, situations where the media biases information to promote a certain point of view are perceived by 60% of respondents as false information/news. On the other hand, 60% of respondents consider political news aimed at changing opinions, attitudes, and behavior as propaganda, the research also shows.
The involvement of celebrities in promoting political parties or ideas is also perceived by 57% of respondents as propaganda. At the same time, 54% of respondents also see the involvement of the church in promoting political parties/ideas as propaganda.
According to the survey, 34% of respondents say they know about the possibility for every citizen to report or write an official complaint if they see news that is untrue, offensive, or violates someone’s rights. However, the share of those who do not know about this possibility prevails. Moreover, the indicator is up compared to the previous year’s survey – 34% in 2022 compared to 24% in 2020.
The national study “People’s perception of media and media skills in the Republic of Moldova” was conducted within the framework of the project “Media Enabling Democracy, Inclusion and Accountability in Moldova” (MEDIA-M), funded by USAID and UK and implemented by Internews in Moldova.
The Independent Journalism Center has trained 18 teachers, who teach at the secondary school level, in a new training program in Media Literacy. The training was conducted in Russian and took place in Chisinau on May 5-7, 2023.
The trainers of the course were Loretta Handrabura and Natalia Griu, authors of the Media Literacy curriculum and textbook for the 10th and 11th grades.
The training program was based on the curriculum Education for Media at the high school level, approved by the Ministry of Education and Research in May 2019, as well as the manual for teaching this optional course in Russian.
Mariana Tabuncic, program manager at the IJC, highlighted at the beginning of the training the attention that the IJC pays to media education, saying that since 2017 and so far, more than 16,000 students have learned this optional subject.
During the training program, teachers/professors developed their skills in teaching Media Literacy at the high school level, based on the content of the curriculum and the textbook of the same name.
The trainers Loretta Handrabura and Natalia Griu also discussed with the participants the identification of fake news, stereotypes, the ethical side of the journalist, the danger of manipulation and misinformation, online safety, forms of online aggression, the role of new media, the culture of communication in cyberspace.
The participants were also introduced to the Media Education platform, where they can find online games for critical thinking, tutorials, animations, and other media products that can be used in Media Education lessons, as well as to the Media Education Portfolio – a useful tool, where the most important media education activities carried out by the IJC are concentrated. The competition “Media literacy – a priority in my school” aroused great interest among participants. In the end, the teachers also listened to the song “Pe`ntelesu` meu”, the lyrics of Mediacritica, on hip-hop rhythms.
So far, IJC has trained 214 primary school teachers, 191 secondary school teachers, and 224 secondary school teachers. The optional subject Education for the Media has been taught in Moldovan schools since 2017 and is included in the Framework Program of the Ministry of Education and Research of the Republic of Moldova at all three levels of education – primary, secondary, and high school. The IJC has developed the Media Literacy curriculum and textbooks which are offered free of charge to teachers and students.
The training was organized by the Independent Journalism Center as part of the project “Media Enabling Democracy, Inclusion and Accountability in Moldova” (MEDIA-M) project, funded by USAID and the UK and implemented by Internews in Moldova.
Freedom House Updates
Freedom House and Mediacor Host 2023 Media Policy Forum
On May 4, Freedom House and Mediacor hosted the 2023 Media Policy Forum in Chisinau, Moldova, in partnership with Internews, the Association of creative companies COR, MEDIA-M and Future Technologies Activity, with the financial support of USAID, Sweden, British Embassy in Chisinau and Friedrich Naumann Foundation For Freedom. US Ambassador to Moldova Kent Logsdon and Moldovan Prime Minister Dorin Recean gave opening remarks in addition to the EU Ambassador, Swedish Ambassador, and Deputy Head of Mission of the British Embassy. Prime Minister Recean referenced the importance of civil society partnerships and the critical role of independent media outlets, while Ambassador Logsdon noted that many media outlets have combatted the spread of disinformation by delivering high-quality information in a timely matter, contributing to the promotion of Moldova’s European path. At the Forum, more than 140 participants representing Moldovan government institutions, independent media, civil society, and international organizations met to discuss emerging challenges and opportunities for Moldovan media including supporting the production of local content, the implications of AI-generated media, and regulation of video-sharing platforms.