14 May 2021

Gheorghe Russu

Vice-director, The Center for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption

Parties-Phantoms, Parties - State Institutions, Parties - State Enterprises


20 parties have registered in the current election campaign. Many people say it is a too big number for such a small country as Moldova. At the same time, much more parties could take part in the election campaign.

Last week illustrated

Activists launch Moldova’s first ‘Space Camp’ © Susan Coughtrie

Case study: “Curier” on NIT on 24 June 2009. Material by Victoria Filip

On 24 June, NIT, a TV station with quasi-national coverage, resumed reporting on allegations of corruption launched by a group of representatives of passenger transportation companies against the Chişinău Mayor’s Office and Mayor Chirtoacă who is participating in the campaign on the Liberal Party’s lists.
IJC, 7 July 2009, 12:32

In the material that the presenter of the program “Curier” in Romanian at 21.30 calls investigation, the NIT journalist does not try to elaborate on the subject or to launch an assumption which she would set out to investigate; instead, she resumes the allegations launched by the transporters on 23 June during a press conference. 

The material, which lasts around two minutes, does not meet even the lowest standard requirements of a journalistic investigation or of news or of a street survey. The information presented is one-sided, biased and unbalanced as the author failed to provide documentation, to quote credible sources or to present evidence that would support the allegations of corruption. The author does not quote the opinions of officials from the mayor’s office or of Dorin Chirtoacă, nor does she mention whether she tried to find those individuals to answer to the allegations brought against them. 

The lack of impartiality and not separating facts from opinions appear in the first sentence of the lead (“Curier” in Russian at 20.00) read by the studio presenter: “The insatiable appetite of city’s officials has become unbearable for transporters.” This statement is not attributed to any source, and so we deduce that this is the author’s personal opinion.

Although the introductory sentence that precedes the inserts says that, “When filmed during our own investigation, the drivers recognized that the fees are collected depending on the route and they vary between 5 and 8 thousand euro” (“Curier” in Romanian at 21.30), those statements are not contained in the answers of the sources quoted. The confusing answers provided by the first and third sources show that the questions had been formulated in such a way as to receive ambiguous answers. The reporter’s text continues: “When asked how to obtain a route docket, which is a document that allows microbus owners to transport people, some drivers had “slipped” fees of tens of thousands of euros unofficially to officials of the mayor’s office.” The following inserts do not support these statements of the reporter.

Insert 1.

Driver: “It depends on the car and the year of its production. I don’t know …”

Reporter: „… a more adequate fee”

Driver: “It reaches 27– 27 thousand.”

Reporter: “Euro, you mean?”

As the reporter did not include the question she addressed to the drivers, it can be deduced from their answers that some interviewees’ answers to questions about the cost of starting a route in general (the cost of a car which depends on the year of production as well as other costs related to the administration of a route) do not refer to a bribe of tens of thousands of euro paid to officials as stated by the reporter. 

Insert 2.

Driver: “Unofficially? Well, do you know what this is? This is called swindle, you know. To see, to… No. Here, you go to the mayor’s office and ask – Mr. Mayor, how much does a route cost?”

Reporter: “It is not right; I for example want people to know…”

It is not clear why the author chose to include the second source in the material which does not present a new perspective or confirm or deny the initial allegations. Moreover, judging by the tone with which he answers, the person is irritated and sees in the reporter’s question an attempt to attract him into dishonest games (the ‘swindle’ to which he refers).

The reporter’s text continues: “Other drivers refused to tell the names of those who collect fees for the distribution of minibus routes and for route dockets, but they made it clear that such practices exist at the mayor’s office.”

Insert 3.

Driver: “You must give as much as they tell you. It depends how you agree with the person.”

Reporter: “I know that it costs around 27 thousand this year. Is this true?”

Driver: “No, it’s not true. 27 thousand? What costs this much?”

Reporter: “A route.”

Driver: “Including the car? It depends on the route. Not all routes bring the same income, for instance. One has a better route, for instance 103, 160, but other routes – not. Nobody gives 27 thousand on a car together with the route.”

Reporter: “But how much? 20 thousand?”

Driver: “Something like that, around that. It also depends on the year of production of the car”.

This ambiguous information leaves room for interpretations. The interviewee is confused by how the question was formulated and tries to specify what exactly the reporter wants to find out. Even if the reporter’s first question was excluded from the dialogue, it is obvious from the discussion that the journalist wants to know “how much a route costs” and not how much the so-called route docket unofficially costs, to which reference is made prior to that. The fact that the first and the third person make reference to the year of production of the car clearly indicates that they refer to the initiation of a route as a business, which is confirmed by the statement “Nobody gives now 27 thousand on a car together with the route.”

The key words “unofficial fees” and “bribe” do not appear in the sources’ answers, even though the author tries to accredit the idea in the accompanying text that the drivers allege that the mayor’s office is corrupt and that they allegedly pay unofficial fees of 5 to 8 thousand euro.

The videos used in the material also raise serious questions. At the beginning of the discussion, the image of the third interviewee appears in the picture in which he can be easily recognized, after which the camera is focused on the branches of a nearby tree. Using such a method can have several explanations: either the person did not agree to be filmed, but the reporter included his image in the picture anyway, or this was done in order to more easily manipulate the audio text.

In conclusion, by using this material NIT flagrantly violates both ethical and professional standards as well as the Regulation on Coverage of Electoral Campaign in the Anticipated Parliamentary Elections of 29 July 2009 by Moldovan Media. 

Readers' comments
Recent comments:
Sinibaldi, 22 September 2010, 19:05
Touch of harmony.

With white
colours recalling
sounds and a
sweet sensibility
you touch my
desire, the inner
relief and a
delicate sadness
that covers
the sun.

Francesco Sinibaldi
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