Romania dropped eight spots to 56th in the Reporters Without Borders Organization‘s press freedom index for 2022, which was released on May 3, on World Press Freedom Day. Romania was previously rated 48th in the world in 2020 and 2021. The press in Romania is behind the media in the Republic of Moldova, which is ranked 40th in this chapter of freedom.
According to research, Romanian media funding processes are frequently unclear, if not outright corrupt. While the most extensive media companies are self-sufficient, most rely on outside funding, including grants. “Using public cash to buy favourable media coverage is a common political tactic,” according to the report.
According to Reporters Without Borders, “attacks against journalists and activists are rising.” This is as true as can be, and the cases in Romania are numerous. It’s worth mentioning the case of the journalist who was beaten for trying to prove illegal deforestation in Romania in September 2021.
Oversight remains a concern, with Parliament passing a law provision – presently being evaluated by the Constitutional Court – that would broaden the extent of interception of electronic communications, including intelligence services,” according to the report.
The media in Romania lack independence and are victims of attempts to interfere, particularly when appointing the heads of public radio and television, but also of the National Audiovisual Council. The latter has also blocked information on the ownership of audiovisual media, under the pretext of protecting personal data. The aggressive political rhetoric against journalists has been taken up by the new populist-nationalist party AUR, which is also the fourth political force in the Romanian Parliament.Reporters Without Borders Report on Romania
The analysis also indicates that, despite conforming with European standards, legislation safeguarding freedom of expression and freedom of the press is not adequately implemented, including at the constitutional level.
Romania can boast of a diverse, relatively pluralistic media landscape that produces hard-hitting public interest investigations. Pressure from owners, lack of transparency in financing or market difficulties, however, hamper the reliability of the information.Reporters Without Borders Report on Romania
On the other hand, in 2022, the Republic of Moldova improved 49 to 40th place, 16 spots ahead of Romania. It is a significant improvement for the Republic of Moldova, rated 91st in 2020 and 2021.
According to RSF, the media in the Republic of Moldova is divided into pro-Russian and pro-Western camps, with oligarchs and political elites exerting significant influence over editorial positions.
While part of the media dares to deal with subjects that are embarrassing for the authorities, many confine themselves to following the political agenda of the party to which they are affiliated. Until its revocation by the new parliamentary majority elected in 2021, the Audiovisual Council granted broadcasting licenses to television channels close to the socialists, which multiply the rebroadcasts of propaganda content produced in Russia.Reporters Without Borders Organization
The analysis also demonstrates that Russia’s (155th) invasion of Ukraine (106th) at the end of February illustrates a degrading proca propaganda war preceded the armed confrontationanda war.
The indicators are assessed in the 180 countries and territories covered in the RSF’s index based on a quantitative assessment of breaches and abuses of press freedom against journalists and the media and a qualitative study based on replies from one hundred press freedom specialists.
It is said that journalism is the watchdog of democracy. In Romania, if you are looking from a subjective perspective, most journalists no longer defend democracy but their own interests. Thankfully, there are still people that are fighting for the truth. But, their job is often among the most difficult jobs when it comes to investigative journalism and exposing illegalities. Romanian journalists are frequently insulted or threatened by government officials and politicians or other figures in leadership positions.
The irony is that after so many years since Romania has been a democratic country, it has not learned that the most incredible power a citizen has is the word, the freedom of expression, and the right to sanction any action that violates democratic principles. Media is an underestimated power and little used for the common good.