Interview with Mihai Coman of the University of Bucharest’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Q: Are there successful examples of media accountability in Romania?
It depends on perspective. On an institutional level there are a few examples one could call successful. There is a code of ethics in Romania that has been accepted and implemented by all journalistic associations. Now there is also an ombudsman in public television. From a social, sociological perspective we have to ask ourselves who controls the journalistic profession. There is a constant struggle between top and low-level journalists, between media owners and journalists, between politicians and journalists – they all want to control the field. We are involved in the process of transformation in Romania. We believed that the transition to capitalism would occur quickly, however we discovered that such a change takes a bit longer than just a few years.
Q: Do you believe there should be a new ethical code specifically for online journalism?
The question is how to define online journalism. When somebody writes a blog about, let’s say horse racing, he’s not automatically an online journalist. The majority of blogs are opinion oriented anyway, and for journalists facts should count, not opinions. Thus, I don’t believe that bloggers can be considered journalists. Online journalists should act in accordance with the existing code of ethics. Everything else that takes place online is impossible to regulate. Its nature is chaotic and unstructured.
Q: What has been one of the most important innovations in Romanian journalism in the recent past?
Definitely the development of a journalism that encourages freedom of expression; in traditional forms of media as well as new. Then there are the types of social media networks that have reached Romania. Online networking is becoming quite important here. In recent years more podcasts have been popping up. Personally, I prefer those to blogs.