Friday, January 25, 2013

Sergiu Nicolaescu Died - Please Change the Channel

“Sergiu Nicolaescu died.”

That should have been enough. A succinct acknowledgment per newspaper or a short news for TV stations; because everybody wants to acknowledge an “important death” . Instead we are bombarded with 24/7 coverage resulting in an over exposure too much even for a people suffering of necrophilia.

I can imagine the reporters desperately looking for juicy bits, sources that would exclusively declare what were the actor’s/director’s last soup, last words, last loves, last pj’s. They traded journalistic standards for the ratings game, where anything goes, salaciousness, scandals, and sensationalism triumph over truth. “Cremation!”, “The coffin is missing the body!”, “He had an illegitimate son?”…They entirely squeezed the potential of the famous cadaver by desecrating Sergiu Nicolaescu’s life. With a hammer.

But do not think that these unprofessional news makers are vulgarizing media in an attempt to satisfy the viewers’ eagerness to see the corpse’s face. Do never believe that these fans of bloody car-accidents, suicides, and crimes, are responding to a public need. In fact, this is the result of acerbic competition among reporters and producers forgetful of substance and decency. Competition that over-values frivolous information, never mind the fact they all supposedly swear on the journalists’ bible ‘Deontological Code for the Journalistic Profession’: this televised banquet is a serious news program.

Romanian journalists have no respect for their subjects’ privacy, and even less respect for their job. If you challenge a Romanian journalist, you will get an arrogant “I wrote thousands of news so far!” Sadly, even though they indeed have a bed-sheet-long history of writing, only a few (if) pieces they signed are qualifying as news. Another argument is that the western media is, too, degrading – as if this was ever an excuse (I remember the “but, mom, this and that were there too…” – It never got a 7 year old anywhere… It should not be used by adults)

The majority demonstrates an acute lack of ideas, underdeveloped analytical skills, the impossibility of interpreting a trend, problematic understanding of journalistic ethics, interpreting norm as being quantity not quality. This is true from reporters to the big news directors, who falsely assume that Romanian people are exclusive gossip consumers and generally intellectually uninvolved. While they usually manage to keep this internal drive for sensational in place, it takes complete control at extreme events: like an animal, when it smells blood, the Romanian TV station craves, not only for a slice, but it devours the entire pie and lick their fingers in satisfaction at the end. I guess the last gesture is the most disturbing. After “OMG, yesterday was double intense”, they are nervously waiting for the ratings, and, depending on the numbers, they celebrate or solemnly promise that next time they will kill it!  And indeed they will. The profession.

Being a reporter is not easy. Being a good reporter is infinitely harder, especially in Romania, where the government is more secretive than a prostitute in a police station, where spokesmen/women are hardly informed and only the information that serves a political goal get pushed. This is no excuse for the state of the decay Romanian media is in today.

A democratic state is founded on pillars of freedom of speech and press. If you can only get a thorough political analysis or find out more about the state of the Romanian economy, when the domestic media quotes foreign newspapers, something is terribly wrong.  It shows that the domestic media lacks, and have given up trying to pretend to possess, the intellectual tools to perform a competent examination

This is true for all media. If you look at the weather programs, young pretty girls  with impeccable make-up and decolletage, tight elastic dresses and pumps, are reading the prompter like someone that knows the alphabet but doesn’t understand the language. Ask them to draw the deflection of winds due to Coriolis effect, ask them about High and Low pressure cells, ask them about thermohaline circulation, and the only thing you’ll get is a perfect little smile. We have a deep appreciation for beauty and skewed values, that’s for sure.

The news makers are full-time scandalmongers; milk addicts suffering of lactose intolerance: after drinking gallons, they scream in unison indigestion. I saw a recent comment from on another highly mediated scandal, a divorce between two Romanian VIPs: The soon to be ex-wife said that she prefers to keep the split private. A reporter commented (off the record): “She should enjoy this media’s interest in her, because this time she doesn’t have to pay for publicity.” Others: “if she doesn’t like the attention, she should not be public figure”; or simply “she is a hypocrite!”…

At the next famous death, I would like to see just one TV station scrolling: “X died today. For the full funeral, please change the channel.”