The Price of Silence: A probe into the partisan media’s accounts

Control over the media has always been a hot-button issue in Romania, but what we’ve witnessed in recent years is different. From a media dependent on funding from politically connected moguls and divided into camps according to its owners’ interests, we’ve transitioned to a new model.

Political parties have come up with a system where they buy the media with public money which they funnel through middlemen to media conglomerates. This deal between journalists and politicians has unified the media. It obeys parties, which have formed an alliance of their own. There is no one left to challenge this monolithic ruling elite, and fewer and fewer people are finding out about its misdeeds because information is tightly controlled.

Parties are paying tens of millions of euros to get the media to keep quiet and look the other way. The contracts under which this money is paid are kept out of public sight and hushed up with confidentiality clauses.

In an investigation sparked by an anonymous email that gave us a number of documents, Recorder delved deep into this system, which poses a threat to democracy in Romania.

After several months of digging, we figured out how the web of payments works and demanded explanations from media empires and the politicians who bankroll them. We’ve tried to explain one of the most serious problems faced by Romanian society: how parties have managed to buy the media with our money.

The English version of this article and the English subtitles of the video are available thanks to Peter Shortall.

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