I am not going to say I am a journalist or a publisher, because I’m not, I never was, but I could become one – if given the opportunity. But I’ve done journalism and publishing and even if I was never paid for this practice, I took great pleasure and pride in writing, editing and sharing with target audiences. I’m not writing this little history to brag about, but just to share with any interested person what I am able to do and do. So, for the first time ever, I want to share with you all of my first years practice in writing, editing, publishing, blogging, tweeting in Romania. In this article, the 2001-2005 period.
Those who really work in the field and do much, much more than myself, will acknowledge that it’s not at all a big deal, but just a mere basic for someone who uses their talent of communicating in the new millennium. Unfortunately, I know that a lot of so-called journalists aren’t able to do all the things I did. With great dissatisfaction, I want to tell to any wannabe-journalist that if (s)he doesn’t know at least 20 of these 25 not so very technical issues, they should either learn them, or give up and do something totally else.
My first job – a dream come true
In June 2001, I had my first job in Iaşi. I was hired by a young entrepreneur as a film critic for the local publication “Nopţi Albe” (White Nights). That was a great honour for me, because I have always been a film lover. My job was to write a little something about each of the 6-8 movies which were running in 4 screens/cinemas: Victoria, Republica, The Students’ Culture House and Dacia and choose one film to make a one-page review each week. The print run: 5000. The publication appeared each Friday.
After 3 weeks, I have been promoted to cultural editor – that meant doubling the number of pages I handled and covering all the cultural events in Iaşi: theatre, vernisages, exhibitions, concerts, books, launches, etc. My job was to document and review each of them. I was credited officially as “redactor” (editor).
This was a great experience to me. I worked mainly independently (there were 4 people in the team), sometimes intersecting my activity with the colleague from advertising. 25 % was field work: gathering information from the sources. My boss taught me, a few years before I learned it in faculty, how to use advanced formulas for finding specific information on Google.
A challenge in this job was dealing with the office for films, which allowed me to see films for free. They wanted me to push certain titles, and I wanted to choose others. I guess they didn’t feel so good when I downgraded blockbusters like “Jurassic Park 3”. In the end, nobody dared enter my field. All that I was writing was getting published and I kept my privileges even if I made a mistake and even after being fired.
The initiative was avant-la-lettre and the review magazine was followed a few years after by B24Fun (also in Iaşi), Şapte Seri, and Tot O Dată. But in august 2011, “Nopţi Albe” was shut down and everybody was fired.
The first writing experiences
In 2002, I started working for a highschool annuary called “Joc Secund”, which targeted the pupils of the Informatics Highschool from Iaşi. From October 2002 till February 2003, I was assistant chief-editor. When the acting chief editor renounced at his position, I was promoted in his place and I hired a new assistant chief-editor. I was a part of a team of 5 people, which was left of about 10 people initially: the manager – Corina Homeucă, which would become a successful business consultant in Iaşi, the assistant chief editor, one desktop publisher and one designer – Bogdan Rusu, whom with I also collaborated in my first professional branding project, 3 years later. I worked as chief editor from February to May 2003. In June 2003, I also dealt with promoting the journal.
Although it wasn’t full time as the first job – it was part-time and with flexible schedule, it presented a lot of challenges: doing the work of more than one person, including taking out the trash (because the lack of leadership made half of the team give-up), hiring a key person, re-structuring the whole journal (content + authors).
I wrote more about this experience in Romanian, here.
Corina Homeucă was very satisfied with my work and even if the whole thing was shut down in June 2003, she facilitated the publishing of a cultural event chronicled by me in “Timpul” (The Time), nr. 3/2003 a cultural monthly review managed by Liviu Antonesei and sustained by the Local Council. In 2004, she subcontracted to me the translation into Romanian of 12 pages for Encyclopaedia Britannica, which were accepted. Also, in 2004 she inspired me to start writing what would become my second book.
Also, as a follow-up to the work done for “Nopţi Albe”, I continued to see films for free at DDF (The Distribution Department for Film) till the fall of 2002 and I worked as a volunteer for promoting to young people interesting films at cinema. For this, I was also entitled to some free viewings. In all of this, I have never compromised my integrity of promoting which films I wanted and how I wanted.
In 2001-2004 I have participated in the Physics Contest „Ştefan Procopiu” and different scientific contests, and I received multiple awards, at the national and local level, including for general aptitudes in the study of physics, logical thinking, sense of observation & perspicacity. I was generally preoccupied with the study of the general & special relativity theory and with cosmogony.
In 2005, I published most of this work in a book titled “Universul. Cadru de referinţă. Interpretare. Sisteme teoretice.” (The Universe. Frame of Reference. Interpretation. Theoretical Systems), at PIM Publishing House, ISBN 973-716-169-6, 146 pages. The print run, of 200, was sold in a few months (I admit 50 of them I have gifted to some friends & family), after being in bookstores from Iaşi and a few other surrounding cities. The price per each copy was 20 lei (5.5 euro in 2005 money). After quitting the Telecommunications Faculty, I have said goodbye to the study of physics and I have forgotten a lot of what I learned in this area, although I still have the most part of the main documentation. The book has been illustrated by Radu-Vasile Chialda, PhD, who is now a successful publisher & painter.
2004 was a great year for me.
I wrote my first original theater play (a combination between absurd theater and satire), which I never published. Still, I have shown it to some theater people and they all said it’s good – but to stage it, it would have been a super-production (the play has an approximate running time of 1 h 45 mins, 23 characters and does require some set decoration).
Although I have been part since 2001 till 2006 from the Students’ Ludic Theater , it wasn’t until 2004 that I got my first part in a play – which was a great spectacle, staged in absolute premiere by the master Aurel Luca based on the text “Nuntă la parter” (Wedding at the ground floor) by Dan Lungu – which would later become a famous Romanian writer.
I wrote during the summer 2004 for the local newspaper “Lumea Ieşeanului” (The World of Iaşi inhabitants) a few opinion articles (once about two weeks), of which some I re-published on my Romanian blog, Discerne (2012). I stopped writing when the newspaper was shut down.
I have received the 3rd prize at the national literary contest “Vox Napocensis”, where I participated with short fiction sketches and poetry, around the time I first entered the Quasar Litarary Circle, managed by prof. univ. dr. George Ceauşu. That was a wonderful experience, because the people coming there had the rare ability of criticising the text and be kind and encouraging with the author. From 2004 to 2006, I have written another theater play, bigger and better, following-up the first one.
In 2004, I have managed the first semi-professional research I participated in: „Studiu electoral de marcă” (Brand electoral study). It was a one-afternoon research, 88 subjects, 3 field operators, and the results were interpreted in Excel. I designed the questionnaire for a political independent research, using NLP theory as framework and content. Although lacking statistical signification, the results of the research have been correct and even prophetic.
Also in 2004, due to applying accelerated reading techniques learned from prof. eng. Radu Budei, one of the greatest inventors from Romania (also, I participated in 2004 at two national fairs of Inventics), I was interviewed by a journalist for Jurnalul Naţional, for an article titled „Campionul citirii rapide” (The Champion of Speed Reading). As a first experience of being interview, it was a good start.
In December, I have directed 2 video commercials of 30 seconds each. One was part of a students’ project based on research, which targeted the smoking habits of students. The commercial was proposed to be aired on TV, based on a partnership between GLISS (Grupul Liber de Iniţiativă a Studenţilor la Sociologie/The Free Initiative Group of Sociology Students) and TVR Iaşi (the local station of the national television), but it was refused, motivated by the low quality of the video. The other commercial was for the speed reading classes of prof. Budei. None of them was ever aired.
In 2005, I started getting more appreciation for my activity
First of all, my brand electoral study received the 1st prize at a national contest for economical students’ papers, called EconomMix. In the first few months of 2005, I have worked on 4 other research projects: the one about smoking; another one about social memory: what were the perceptions associated with symbols of the Romanian Revolution from 1989; the third, about cultural habits and preferences of high school students in several schools from Iaşi; the last one, about parental education, viewed through the eyes of 7 and 8-grade pupils – which also participated at a National Psychology Conference in 2005.
At the National Conference for Psychology and Sciences of the Education which took place May the 12th in Bucharest, I received the award for best original paper in Psychology for the work “Mecanisme de apărare” (Defensive Mechanisms), which opened my collaboration with „Psihologia Azi” (Psychology Today) ,which is 2007 has been declared no. 1 in Romania in the segment of premium magazines and which, till the apparition of Psychologies, was the main publication for popularization of Psychology. “Mecanisme de apărare” was initially the script for a 1 minute commercial in a campaign against family violence. The campaign was canceled, but my script was published in 6 pages of nr 12/2005 from „Psihologia Azi”. It was a totally unexpected win and I personally consider it reference, because many licensed psychologist in Romania don’t know the difference between defensive mechanisms and stress coping strategies (in 2006 I have worked for another research, about stress coping strategies).
I launched my first book, the one about the Universe, during a Quasar national event. It was great. We even had champaign. In the end, I doubled the sum invested in the book. The book didn’t look too great, because it wasn’t properly edited – it was basically self-published. I paid the publishing company for everything, including making the cover.
Based on a documentation work solicited by Corina Homeucă in 2004, I have developed the draft of an e-book on efficient learning (speed reading + memorisation + concentration techniques), which I published, together with Andy Szekely‘s report “Cele 8 greşeli pe care le fac cei care învaţă încet şi cum poţi să le eviţi” [ro, PDF] and with Tom Silvestru’s brilliant software for speed reading on a CD, which I have distributed at fairs and conferences.