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Chaos at Evenimentul

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27 Dec 2004 - 00:00

OBSERVER - December 28th 2004
Evenimentul Zilei is the scene of a major conflict after the Ringier trust, the paper’s owner, decided to dismiss the editor-in-chief Dan Turturica. Most of the members of the editorial office are against this decision.


MIRUNA MIHALCEA

COALITION. Dan Turturica (right) says that the protestors support him and the concepts Evenimentul Zilei promoted until now
The Christmas Eve brought a new editor-in-chief to the Evenimentul Zilei newspaper. His name is Razvan Ionescu. But the journalists’ team say they didn’t sign any paper for Dan Turturica’s dismissals. The Ringier trust, the newspaper’s owner, proposed him a move to Bacau for the "initiation of an edition for Moldova of the newspaper". The foreign press trust’s representatives say that this decision is based on the fact that Turturica didn’t reach all the goals in his contract with Ringier. The contract was signed in April, last year.

DOUBLE. The editorial team, having 80 subscribers, draws attention upon the "abusive decisions" of the foreign trust. Three days ago they made public a statement in which the trust’s decision was much contested. As a follow up, the paper on Monday had two teams working for it. The team of the majority was led by Dan Turturica, and the other one, with "approximately 10-15%" of the journalists, was led directly by the new editor-in-chief. The journalists from Evenimentul Zilei made public their concern regarding the presumptive transformation of the newspaper into a tabloid. Turturica’s "majority" harshly accused the "commando" operation of the team of the new editor-in-chief. Yesterday, the people were able to buy the "Ionescu edition", but the articles from the "Turturica edition" were available on the newspaper’s website.

PROTEST. The Evenimentul Zilei editorial office protested in front of the Swiss Embassy in Bucharest yesterday. Dan Turturica’s team was there and he led them. They say that these decisions are no more than tries to censor the press and to shorten the right to free speech. They brought into discussion the case of the Romania Libera newspaper, which is seen as a model since at Evenimentul the journalists have been forced to write only certain facts regarding the internal politics as well.

POSITION. For the time being, Ringier didn’t say whether there will be any personnel changes at Evenimentul. However, the "old" team from Evenimentul Zilei, the team that has been protesting these days, doesn’t want to work in the given conditions and says that the journalists will go on a strike as soon as possible and that, once the approvals are obtained, the public protests will go to the Delegation of the European Commission. The Ringier press trust expressed its position regarding Evenimentul Zilei: "The rumours saying the newspaper will be transformed into a tabloid have no valid grounds. First of all, since the press trust took over until now, all the public statements of Ringier expressed the definite goal of making Evenimentul Zilei the number one newspaper in Romania".
RPC IS WORRIED
The Romanian Press Club (RCP) sent a communiqué in which they were asking the Ringier press trust to think about the interests of the Romanian press when they take the decisions regarding Evenimentul Zilei. "The Romanian Press Club obeys the laws regarding the private property and considers that any press owner can take any decision that concerns its property. In the case of the Evenimentul Zilei newspaper, a RPC member, people say that it will be transformed into a tabloid, a gossip, scandal and amusement publication. This possibility worries RPC because we think that a political newspaper, no matter its subjectivism, is more necessary to the Romanian press and public opinion during these difficult political times".
"FREEDOM…NO MORE"
The editors at Evenimentul Zilei who protested justify their actions by saying that, on one hand, they want their readers to know all the news regarding the changes in the structure and in the organization of the newspaper. On the other hand, they want to draw attention upon the repeated tries to restrict the freedom of the press in the recent Romanian environment. The texts they chanted in front of the Swiss Embassy were: "Journalists all other the world stay away from Ringier!", "Shame on you, Ringier!", "No more freedom with Ringier!", "Ringier, don’t forget, you don’t own the press!". In the same time, they want their readers to know that the journalists who support Turturica don’t have anything to do with the contents of the newspaper published under the lead of Razvan Ionescu.

"THERE AREN’T ONLY PRINCIPLES BEHIND THESE PROTESTS"

Taking into account the crisis at the Evenimentul Zilei daily newspaper, we contacted the new editor-in-chief Razvan Ionescu. Referring only to the editorial office only, he said that, for now, he is working with 20 people.

"From my point of view, they are not at work today (n.e. - yesterday). I am talking about the ones protesting in front of the Swiss Embassy. And yesterday (n.e. - on Sunday) they didn’t give any texts", stated Razvan Ionescu yesterday. The new Evenimentul Zilei editor-in-chief added that there will be penalties for the protestors. "We will apply the normal rules for an enterprise, but it is obvious that the protestors won’t be considered equal to the ones working. It is obvious that there will be penalties." Ionescu wanted to bring a completion by saying: "These protests seem to be based on principles, but it isn’t so. And this is where I stop."

Razvan Ionescu adopted Ringier’s position regarding the editorial changes possible in the near future for Evenimentul Zilei. He said there won’t be major changes. "A major change for this newspaper is absurd. It is like someone would toss the newspaper and its editorial office down the window. There will be some necessary improvements and stimulations." And all these because the goal, which the new editor-in-chief has to reach, is, as he says, to make Evenimentul Zilei the number one daily newspaper in Romania, from the readers’ number point of view, as well as from the number of copies printed point of view. "For now, Evenimentul Zilei is in a tough competition with Jurnalul National and Adevarul for the number of readers", Razvan Ionescu admitted in the end. (ByEugenia Mihalcea)

Translation: SORIN BALAN
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