Trivia and sleaze
IN an editorial-page article last year for the The Wall Street Journal, Tom Gallagher, an author and Romania expert, wrote
“Romania’s media—for a time one of the most independent-minded press corps to be found in ex-Soviet Europe—is once again in the grip of the old guard, who are given to laying off journalists en masse when they write something unpleasant. Television stations attract viewers to their nightly tirades against reformists or independent politicians by wrapping political content in trivia and sleaze.”
The recent coverage of the death of a Romanian celebrity was more illustration of how the standards of Romania’s media are deteriorating. Images of his coffin, a grieving crowd, dramatic funeral bells, close-ups of old ladies crying their hearts out intermingled with sound bites of politicians expressing their regret for the nation’s great loss and melodramatic live reports of correspondents struggling to glorify the recently departed. Back in the studios, journalists were in hot debate: “Should he be cremated, as he wished to, or should he be buried, as the Romanian Orthodox Church wants to?” “Did he really have an illegitimate son?” “Why was his wife wearing white at the incineration?” “If he really is the one inside that coffin, then they should keep the lid open so we could see his face. We want to see his dead face!” Details...

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