Stories on ecology and corruption, developed with Thomson Media support, are among the best investigations of the year.
By Dima Stoianov, media support expert – Moldova, Thomson Media
At the beginning of the year, two young journalists from Rezina, a small city in northern Moldova, pitched a story that was to become one of the most quoted stories of 2021.
The investigation exposed the poor quality of water sources used by locals: “Laboratory analysis on spring water hadn’t been performed in the Rezina district for six years,” says Andrei Bordian, one of the journalists behind the investigation. “People had no idea about the quality of the water they were drinking every day, and thus their high exposure to health risks.”
It wasn’t long before the story was picked up by national media, eventually reaching the attention of the Moldovan branch of the Romanian TV station, TVR, where the story received a primetime news slot and hit 120,000 views on social media.
“Mayors of these villages didn’t even know that the law obliged them to perform laboratory tests on spring water,” continues Andrei. “After the public release of several cases and the high level of media interest, mayors in a few villages ordered the installation of warning signs alerting people of the risks.”
The investigation by Andrei and his colleague, Gheorghe Bencheci (pictured below, left, with Andrei), was their first professional attempt at investigative journalism and received the top award from the Association of Independent Press (API) and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom in the category, “The best local investigation of the year in Moldova”.
People had no idea about the quality of the water they were drinking every day, and thus their high exposure to health risks.
Another story that received Thomson Media support, this time led by a team of experienced journalists working in the second most populated city of Moldova, Bălți, received the second prize under the same category.
Their investigation was on corruption and unveiled hidden properties in Romania of the children of a local prosecutor. Before the award from API and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, the investigation received significant public interest which put pressure on the National Integrity Agency (ANI) to start its own investigation on the prosecutor.
“I warned prosecutors and judges in our country that, while ANI hadn’t been paying too much attention to them, we would continue our investigations until we found all their properties abroad,” said journalist, Nicolai Coșeru, in his acceptance speech.
I warned prosecutors and judges that we would continue our investigations until we found all their properties abroad.
Thomson Media has facilitated the production of 25 investigative stories within the Strategic Communication and Support to Mass Media (StratCom) project. While most of these stories uncover corruption, six have received funding on environmental topics and cover local communities in all the regions of Moldova, including the breakaway state, Transnistria.
Thomson Media is working on the three-year project with partners CommWithUs, Thomson Media gGmbH, ECORYS Polska, Independent Journalism Centre, AQA and Norm Consulting.