The digital guerrilla operating on the Internet during the campaign for the May 19 referendum on the dismissal of President Traian Basescu is dealt with in a feature article published in the May 28 edition of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
The article describes the role played by HotNews.ro during the events as a guarantor of journalistic independence, which is lacking in traditional media these days.
The article refers to an online campaign to defend the position of the (then) suspended president against opponents in the Parliament prior to the referendum that eventually had him return to power with the backing of a large majority of voters.
And it describes the impact of specific messages distributed online, such as “Error 322. Cannot open Parliament.exe. The file seems to be corrupt. Please reinstall” - referring to the 322 MPs who voted in favor of President Basescu’s suspension in April.
According to the newspaper, Basescu’s powerful political rivals hold control of televisions, newspapers and party PR machines, but were almost completely lacking support on the Internet during the referendum campaign.
It also shows the role played by HotNews.ro, which lures some 70,000 users on working days and comes fifth among online media outlets in Romania. The website is described as a media portal that now employes over 20 people with correspondents in Frankfurt and New York.
HotNews.ro editor-in-chief Cristian Pantazi is quoted as saying that its position during the referendum, a position generally seen as favoring the President, was not focused on Basescu, but on the state of law, democracy and transparency. And he says the website lures journalists because it guarantees journalistic independence that can be rarely found in other media.
And the website offers bloggers the much-needed platform to have their voice heard as its bloggers, some of them reputed personalities, have gained fame among their kin and are quoted in mainstream media.