Claudia Nicolae, AGERPRES CEO

Claudia Nicolae (AGERPRES Director General): News agencies have to prove once more that they are in the first line of providing real information

AGERPRES (The Romanian National News Agency) relies on official information in order not to spread panic throughout the society, during the Covid-19 crisis. Providing real high-quality information is at the basis of news gathering for AGERPRES' journalists, according to Claudia Nicolae, the AGERPRES Director General. 

AGERPRES is a public news agency. How would you define the role of a public news agency during the pandemic?

News agencies have to prove once more that they are in the first line of providing real and high-quality information, which the population relies on. We are not journalists only in times of peace and serenity, we mustn’t only report on good and beautiful things. We show society the facts, events, problems, everything as it is and as it comes. It is not a job starting at a certain time and ending at another. News agencies must never forget their public mission of providing correct and objective information, particularly in times of crisis, when the interest in topical news is increasing and when fake news and disinformation are escalating.

What is your agency’s relationship with the Romanian state?

In times of crisis everyone is on the same side of the barricade, and the media has an essential role in promoting and broadcasting the state’s decisions in the fight against the pandemic. AGERPRES has created, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a special newswire, where readers can find all information broadcast by officials, all domestic and foreign news regarding this topic. The newswire is also marked on the homepage of the AGERPRES website, through a banner placed at the page opening.

Both AGERPRES and the other state institutions have in common the struggle with a difficult situation, and there is generally a correct, professional relation. This does not mean that we do not sound warning bells, ask questions or present the points of view of all politicians, at rule or in the opposition.

Did AGERPRES take any measures for the protection of its journalists during the pandemic?

We applied all the measures the government asked to. And we constantly informed our colleagues about them. During the state of emergency we have observed the distancing measures at the workplace, we purchased disinfectants and masks for the personnel who continued to work from the office, the work schedule was switched for people working in the same room, and we provided protection equipment for the journalists who went in the field, covering events. A large part of our colleagues have chosen to work from home.

Can you foresee the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on AGERPRES?

Fortunately we have no colleague diagnosed with Covid-19. I hope the only impact the virus will have is the increased unity of the team and the proof that even under tough conditions we maintain our professionalism.

What differentiates news agencies from other media during crisis times?

AGERPRES journalists are aware of how important it is during a crisis to select and thoroughly check the information we present to the public and not generate panic. We are only focused on official information. We only deliver trusted content and data.

Interview by Alexandru Giboi (EANA Secretary General) for the "EANA Top Voices" project.