The politics of media and information in countries emerging from totalitarian regimes: the case of Romania

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Virginia Tech


This thesis problematizes the interplay of power and media institutions as a general difficulty in democratic societies and as a specific challenge in countries that are emerging from authoritarian regimes. Based on more comprehensive studies about power, dominance, compliance, resistance and information monopoly developed in the United States, the project approaches a particular case in modern history, namely Romania, during the period of transition following Ceausescu's overthrow, in December, 1989, and before the first free elections, in May, 1990. The bulk of the work concentrates on deconstructing political and media discourses developed throughout this period, while trying to address the role that the political and media environments had in reshaping post-communist Romania. My major argument is that, given a number of difficulties that have marked this period, ranging from economic setbacks, political ambiguities, and social confusion, the May elections have been monitored and orchestrated starting early in this period by the provisional authorities (a group of former communist bureaucrats), in tandem with a number of central media outlets. From this combination of power interests, the Romanian public was deprived of correct information on a number of issues that pertained to the future of the country and was trapped in the web of a carefully designed imagery that fostered a dissimulated totalitarian propaganda. The last part of the project advances these contentions and considers them in turn, while trying to capture how the specifics of the case inscribe themselves in larger patterns of dominance and compliance.