17 Years of Free Press. What do the Partners Say?
In their 17 years, ZdG has managed to build many friendships and partnerships, both in Moldova and abroad. ZdG would not have existed without the logistical and moral support of its partners, who are and remain key supporters of freedom of expression, free media, transparency, access to information, and the fight against corruption. Today, we present just a few of the messages addressed to the ZdG on the occasion of its 17 years of activity. They are not necessarily messages of praise for the ZdG, but messages of reconfirmation of the importance of the work we do together. We are honored and determined to go from strength to strength!
True journalism is the most effective weapon in the fight against misinformation
The existence of a free and independent press is a precondition for a democratic society. Independent media gives citizens the certainty that they are the ones who make decisions and that politicians, who should be at the service of citizens, respect their choices.
True journalism is the most effective weapon in the fight against misinformation and fake news. People easily become accustomed to high-quality content and will choose well-researched articles over manipulative material.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how dangerous misinformation can be and how important it is to have credible media you can rely on.
Corruption is another virus affecting people’s lives that can be tackled with the help of journalists – by investigating shady schemes and tracking the decisions made by politicians.
This is why the European Union is helping to create and support free and independent media in Moldova.
Peter Michalko, Head of the European Union Delegation in the Republic of Moldova
Freedom of opinion exposes human rights abuses
In international law, all human rights are universal and have equal value. Nevertheless, in my opinion the right to freedom of expression – enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – is a very special and unique right. It allows citizens to shine a light on violations and abuses of all other rights. And thereby it protects those rights. The corrupt and the criminal hate transparency and truth. Congratulations to ZdG for bringing transparency and truth to Moldovan citizens for the past 19 years. Spor jurnalismul obiectiv!”
Steven Fisher, Ambassador of the United Kingdom in Chișinău
Ziarul de Gardă has faced the adversities and grown the community
The 17th anniversary of Ziarul de Garda is a good occasion to reflect on the importance of independent media in today’s world. The COVID pandemic has reminded us of the importance of accurate and reliable information. Only accurate and reliable information allows people to protect themselves and their loved ones. To take informed health care decisions, about treatments when they are sick. About vaccines, which are the best way to prevent disease in the first place. But also to hold their government to account, as it implements measures that affect the rights of all citizens. To feed a genuine discussion about the way the pandemic can be tackled best.
The COVID crisis has also reminded us, in very explicit ways, how disinformation and media manipulation can endanger lives, harm democracy and prevent economic prosperity and equality. Fake news has undermined the trust in science. Manipulation of the media makes it more difficult to have an honest discussion about how to strike the right balance between personal freedom and the need to take restrictive measures in order to protect public health. It makes it impossible to have a discussion of how to distribute the economic pain that is caused by the pandemic. Independent journalism, objective reporting, and high-quality information are important pillars as we strengthen our resilience in the face of COVID-19.
In the Republic of Moldova, independent journalists face multiple challenges that range from intimidations and threats to financial constraints and bogus litigations. Independent media, such as Ziarul de Garda, have experienced them all. Despite all the adversities, today Ziarul de Garda represents a bastion of independent journalism that never stops providing its readers with alternative sources of information, a medium that will always be a platform for the dissenting voices. Despite all the obstacles, Ziarul de Garda has played an important role in unearthing corruption scandals and integrity conflicts. Ziarul de Garda has done this in a very careful way, without taking sides in political debates, carefully avoiding the impression of partiality. Always asserting their independence.
Independent media do not only inform their audience, they also educate them. The readership of Ziarul de Garda has expanded tremendously over the last few years. It has become a genuine community: a community of people that value truth and integrity. A community of readers that understand why independent media and quality journalists deserve not only our sympathy but also our material support.
Over the years, the Dutch Embassy office has co-financed the work of Ziarul de Garda and many other independent media outlets, allowing them to flourish, gain a wider audience, and become more self-sustainable. We are proud of the team at Ziarul de Garda. And we are proud of the important work they do, day in day out, exercising the freedom of expression, informing the citizens, and educating them to promote critical thinking. Ziarul de Garde fully deserves its leading place among Moldovan newspapers, and the special place it has in the hearts and minds of many of its readers.
La mulți ani Ziarul de Gardă! Keep the fight for the truth alive!
Floris van Eijk, Head of the Dutch Embassy Office in Chișinău
The voices of journalists must be protected to face the ever more numerous challenges
As Ambassador of Canada to the Republic of Moldova, I am pleased to send warm congratulations to Ziarul de Garda on the occasion of your 17th anniversary! We wish you continued success in your commendable work which contributes to a strong and vibrant Moldovan society. Canada is a firm believer that freedom of media and expression is a cornerstone of democratic societies and are essential to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. Indeed, the media play an essential role in defending and advancing the truth around the world and journalists must be allowed to report facts freely and independently. Given the many challenges to media freedom worldwide, Canada has been leading international efforts to protect the voices of journalists, including by co-chairing, along with UK, the Media Freedom Coalition, a group of 40 countries who are committed to working together to address situations and cases where media freedom is at risk. In November 2020, Canada also co-hosted with Botswana, the Global Conference for Media Freedom, which brought key stakeholders together to identify solutions to emerging media freedom issues. We extend our very best wishes to the whole team at Ziarul de Garda. Keep up the great work!
Annick Goulet, Ambasadoarea Canadei în România, Republica Bulgaria și R. Moldova
Pluralism and freedom are part of identity
Freedom of the press is very important, and the role of journalists is to inform transparently about everything that happens in society, but respecting certain rigors, such as verifying information, rejecting false information, and manipulating.
In Poland, we have many newspapers and a variety of media institutions with traditions, and pluralism is one of the values of democracy and of Polish identity in general. There has never been an absolute monarchy in Poland, and the totalitarian systems of the 20th century were imposed by foreign occupiers. Poles are pluralistic people who love freedom. That is why pluralism, freedom, and the responsibility of the press are so closely linked to our identity.
Bartlomiej Zdaniuk, Ambassador of Poland to Moldova
Investigative journalism is essential for a democratic society in the fight against corruption. I have great admiration for journalists who do their work with a backbone and respect professional ethics, and for newsrooms that provide a platform for investigative reporters.
Moldova’s independent press has faced many challenges, so we congratulate you on your 17 years of activity and wish you many more impactful investigations for the benefit of citizens.
Caroline Tissot, Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office in Moldova
ZdG chose the hardest kind of journalism and the best kind of practices
When you reach the milestone of Seventeen Years in most countries you are still not considered to be mature enough to vote.
Youth comes with unpredictability and the youthful brain is still forming. That must be the reason why election laws know this age barrier.
In my opinion, Ziarul de Garda did have this mature brain right from the start.
First of all, because it chose to investigate and fight endemic cancer in Moldova, the flagrant corruption in the country’s elites.
Second because it opted to work along with the best practices of ethical journalism and prefers fact over the omnipresent fiction and gossip.
Because of its corrupted elites, Moldova became a hotbed for money laundering and financial corruption for many bad oligarchs in the neighborhood.
The whitewashed benefits went abroad, to European tax havens, like the UK, Malta, virgin islands, and in some cases to my own country, the Netherlands.
ZdG managed to show to the public that none of this financial corruption helped the poor in this European country.
In fact, it showed public funds were stolen from the public and invested in property for the Moldovan rich in London’s most expensive neighborhoods.
ZdG ardently followed the money streams leading towards the publication of dozens of fact-based well-researched stories.
In doing so it served the public in Moldova, even when the corrupt elites did not appreciate having their dirty laundry hanging out in the open.
Across Europe, investigative journalism faces many problems. The best of us are being persecuted in courts, intimidated by criminals, and sometimes killed.
Investigative journalism is an aspect of journalism that requires a mature brain and a cool head. And persistence and courage.
ZdG helped its youth and the generation – growing up in despair because of the lack of jobs and perspective – to see the reality of its country.
Many decided to leave but those in ZdG stayed and kept on fighting for the future inside the country.
In the past few years, the new generation voted the elites out of business and replaced its government.
Today Moldova is slowly but surely manifesting itself as a country with more realistic politicians with zeal and mission for the better.
ZdG played a role in that slow transition, helping to create a beginning of public accountability with its publications.
So what does that seventeenth birthday mean for Ziarul de Garda?
It is not for me to decide but I would argue to continue to do what they have always done, following critically those in power, to serve the public.
Moldova still has a long way to go, but wholehearted support should be given to those that merit optimism and command respect.
Because of its youth, ZdG is an institution for the future.
Leon Willems, Free Press Unlimited, Amsterdam
I loved being part of the ZdG team!
First things first. Congratulations on 17 years of bringing light to Moldova.
When I first came to Chisinau in 2008, I had recently retired as a political photojournalist at the Washington Post and Politico in the US. My wife had taken a job at a USAID organization in Moldova and I joined her.
This was an amazing time for politics in your country as well as for your newspaper in its 4th year if existence. Early 2009 Moldova’s Communist party won enough votes in a contested election to form a government. Something that came to be known as the “Twitter Revolution” brought Moldova’s progressive youth to the streets in what began as peaceful protests of the election. One day later those peaceful protests became destructive with government buildings being damaged.
It took time for me to understand Moldovan politics and Moldovan news media. It wasn’t just the language barrier. So much of what was on television and in publications was not news, but rather the state message. I had heard about it but had not experienced that in the US. And to many Moldovans, that state-biased reporting was their only source of news. ZDG was offering an honesty where one wasn’t expected. I was only a contributor, but I liked being part of it.
Congratulations to the ZdG team!
Robert A. Reeder, former Washington Post photojournalist, USA
Investigative journalists hold political leaders to account
Happy 17th birthday to Ziarul de Garda!
It is not easy for independent public interest media to survive and thrive. But a free and fair press is so important in ensuring that the public has access to trusted information, and in delivering investigative reporting that helps combat corruption and holds leaders to account. Wishing you success in the future.
Best wishes, Ellie Haworth, BBC media action
Credible information is the backbone of any democracy
Democracy dies in darkness, as the Washington Post’s motto says – but it is also endangered in the light of day if it gives way to the chaos of disinformation and manipulation. Credible information is the backbone of every democracy, but it is getting more and more difficult to find. This is why we need journalism and journalists – so that every citizen can see the facts and make their own choices. The European Democracy Action Plan clearly shows the EU’s thinking in this regard: free media have an essential role to play in protecting citizens from disinformation and manipulation, and citizens have the right to trustworthy information, in order to make an informed decision, especially when casting a ballot.
Martyna Bildziukiewicz, Head of East Stratcom Task Force, European Union External Action Service (EEAS)
A robust free press is a key to a healthy democracy. Journalists play a singular role in informing the public and holding policymakers accountable. In a time where corrosive corruption, illiberal leaders, and authoritarianism are actively undermining democracy and human rights worldwide, journalism is more important than ever.
Gina S. Lentine, Sites of Conscience, USA
ZdG has managed to remain consistent in the fight against corruption
A newspaper, a phenomenon, and the first vigilante in the media market. A fierce fighter against corruption and a team of courageous professionals. A promoter of human rights who have managed, despite all challenges, to remain consistent and inform people objectively. Often defending its rights, ZdG actually fights for freedom of expression for all the press in the country. Thank you for not giving in and providing the privilege for tens of thousands of readers to be informed. Happy birthday, Ziarul de Gardă!
Veaceslav Tofan, Amnesty International Moldova
Without teams like ZdG, we would be less aware
A community of people who do not ask for and seek the truth will sooner or later cease to exist. Without truth, the human species degrades and people become manipulated masses used as cannon fodder and voting machines. In a country where corruption flourishes, human rights are not respected, public money is squandered after rigged tenders, the press is controlled by criminal politicians and used for the purpose of disinformation, in such a country, but also in any other country, people must seek the truth, hold the government accountable for the way they manage public affairs and how they spend the money we pay in taxes and fees, and oppose the accession to public office of people with criminal past and present or on the edge of the law. Independent media and professional and well-researched journalistic investigations play an invaluable role in saving democracy in countries vulnerable to corruption, as the Republic of Moldova is today, and we are very lucky to have some very good teams of investigative journalists, who have become anti-corruption “institutions” in their own right, even if they do not have official investigative powers, and in recent years – the only sources of accurate information about the oligarchic and corrupt system.
…Let’s imagine for a moment what the Moldovan media market would be like without journalistic teams like “Ziarul de Gardă”. Surely, we would know less about corrupt judges, prosecutors, and officials, about criminal schemes and dignitaries who pursue their interests on public money, about ordinary people who have become victims of the system… We would have had less truth. Less democracy. Fewer rights. Less dignity. I’m sure we wouldn’t like that. And to make sure it doesn’t happen, let’s appreciate and support, as much as we can, honest and common sense journalists, those who seek and bring us the truth. Every Thursday and every other day of the week.
Happy birthday, ZdG!
Petru Macovei, Director, Independent Press Association