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Friday, October 01, 2004
BUCHAREST (AP)--One of Romania 's most influential journalists unexpectedly
quit as chief editor of the daily Evenimentul Zilei Tuesday, shortly after
dozens of journalists accused the newspaper's Swiss owners of meddling in
The departure of Cornel Nistorescu caused alarm among advocates of press
freedom and some Western diplomats who said it pointed to diminishing press
freedoms before closely contested elections in November.
"Cornel Nistorescu is one of the main founders of an independent press after
1990," said a statement from the Romanian Academic Society, which supports
press freedom and democracy.
The group said there was "unprecedented pressure put by foreign owners on
Evenimentul Zilei and (another daily) Romania Libera to stop their vigorous
criticisms and investigations" to instead focus on entertainment.
The owner, the Swiss group Ringier AG (RGR.YY), has strongly denied meddling
in editorial policy. In a statement, it said Nistorescu departure was on
amicable terms due to differences about how to modernize the newspaper, adding that
he would continue to write twice-weekly columns.
Nistorescu, known for his pro-Western stance and harsh criticism of the
ruling party, other politicians and widespread corruption, used to write daily
columns. He has not been replaced. He was not available for immediate comment.
Western diplomats speculated that he had been forced to quit because of his
biting daily editorials and the newspaper's criticism of corruption, which
angered officials here - many of whom are used to the communist era, when
journalists didn't criticize government.
The newspaper, one of the few publications to criticize the ruling Social
Democratic Party, receives practically no government advertising, which is a main
source of income for many media outlets.
Two weeks ago, Evenimentul Zilei journalists signed a protest that accused
Ringier of meddling in editorial policy. Nistorescu did not sign the protest,
but he also did not distance himself from it.
Dozens of journalists working for Romania Liberia, another newspaper that is
critical of the government, have accused their German owners, Westdeutsche
Allgemeine Zeitung, of trying to pressure them to write less critically about the
Posted by Mihai Botea : 10/01/2004 04:25:00 pm
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