Can the values of public service journalism be transplanted to a society emerging from dictatorship? This paper is the first detailed account of the BBC's engagement with journalism in Romania after the fall of communism, including a description and evaluation of the journalism training carried out by the BBC in the country in the 1990s.
Drawing on interviews with a cohort of journalists who were trained at the BBC School in Bucharest, it describes the media landscape from which they came and charts their professional progress after attending the training course. Their disillusionment with the decline in journalistic standards in Romania in the late 1990s is put in the context of wider assessments of the state of Romanian media in the run-up to the country's joining the European Union in 2005.
Initiatives to establish and support a model of public service broadcasting in Romania after the “revolution” of 1989 were seen as part of a wider effort to build an open society. While Romania's goals of joining NATO and the European Union were achieved by 2005, there is considerable evidence of its continuing failure to respect the norms of liberal democracy. This paper investigates the reasons why the journalistic values which the BBC taught to 500 young Romanian journalists did not take root in the country's media and asks what lessons can be learned for similar interventions 20 years on.
The paper is published on Journalism Practice, Volume 7, Issue 3, 2013 Special Issue "Themed Section on Migrants and the Media in the 21st Century: Obstacles and opportunities for the media to reflect diversity and promote integration"
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