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Turnaround at Moldpres: Two Photojournalists, Three Translators and One Editor Will Keep Their Jobs

18 December 2019
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Andrei Volentir, Executive Director of the Public Institution ‘Moldpres’ State News Agency, announced that the new structure of the institution was reviewed and, to the 47 positions planned according to the optimizations done in November, six positions will be added, i.e. two photojournalists, three translators and one editor. Volentir notified about this the members of the Parliamentary Committee for Culture, Education, Research, Youth, Sport and Mass-Media, who reviewed the topic related to the reorganization of ‘Moldpres’. Earlier, a scandal broke after two photojournalists from ‘Moldpres’ publicly announced that they were to be dismissed, and the conflict came into the sight of President Igor Dodon and a number of MPs.

During the parliamentary hearings, the Executive Director of ‘Moldpres’ argued that the News Department generated ‘only losses’ and that it needed a budget of MDL 3 million. He added that the Agency had currently only three news subscribers, compared with eight in the past.

According to Moldpres website, a single news package for a whole year in Romanian amounts to MDL 12,000, in Russian – the same price, and in English – MDL 14,400.

Volentir mentioned that the Official Gazette (OG) was the main source of revenue and that it covered all expenses, including those incurred by the News Department. Andrei Volentir added that although the Law on Press stipulated that the founder shall finance its institution, the State Chancellery failed to allocate funds for ‘Moldpres’. In general, he mentioned that the institution ‘has currently a profit of about MDL 3 million’.

MP Adela Raileanu (PSRM) asked about the volume of news produced by the News Department. Present at the hearings, the Head of the News Department, Fidel Galaico, mentioned that the daily volume was about 20-25 internal and 20 external news, out of which 70% by the author and 30% made from press releases.

Adela Raileanu suggested to the Agency’s management to review their vision of producing news and adapt them to the market demand. Galaico replied that the Agency did not make sensational or commercial news and that all their materials were published on the website.

MP Maria Ciobanu objected during the hearings that Andrei Volentir would have hired at ‘Moldpres’ certain individuals to promote the interests of the power during the period when he knew that dismissals were to take place. Volentir rejected the allegations and said that those individuals were hired long before the optimizations.

Contacted by Media-azi, one of the photojournalists who was informed that he was not going to be dismissed, Mihai Vengher, mentioned that he was just informed that he and another photojournalist would continue to work at ‘Moldpres’ from 1 January. He stated that no document was presented to him to this end and that he signed nothing so far. According to him, a decision to this end would have been adopted by the Government two weeks ago.

Note that earlier, a number of reporters, photojournalists and translators from the Public Institution ‘Moldpres’ State News Agency were notified in advance that they would be dismissed due to the fact that the Founder approved a new structure and staffing limit of ‘Moldpres’. The decision was approved by the former Secretary General of the State Chancellery, Andrei Spinu, on 11 November, and meant to ‘make the institution more efficient’. Employees disagreed with this decision and filed a petition to the President of the country. Igor Dodon requested the current Chicu Government to intervene in order to solve this situation.