Romanian Student Searches for Truth in Journalism
By Michelle Valigursky
As a poet and human rights activist, Romanian-born Mariangela Jordan 12C observes nuances of humanity and conveys the intricacies of existence through words that evoke both joy and pain. Yet as a visual anthropologist, Jordan is committed to telling true stories with cultural sensitivity and honesty.
She says “accuracy, balance, fairness, clarity, and objectivity are the core standards” of her creative work with Purple Mind Productions, a Romanian-based independent television production company she runs with CEO and founder Liliana Ciobanu. “Liliana is passionate about quality journalism, and I am passionate about human rights and ethics. Together we make a deadly combination,” says Jordan, the firm’s creative and business affairs director.
Jordan has personal reasons for choosing this work. “Living under communism in a family which defied the regime was a rather traumatic experience,” she recalls. “However, under my father’s guidance, I quickly learned to escape the bleakness of our immediate existence by employing my imagination. Creativity was indeed the only aspect of our existence that the regime could not control. For my family, poetry was a cathartic form of political resistance and freedom.”
Jordan says that fair and balanced reporting is difficult in impoverished countries such as Romania, where corruption influences the media. When reporting on such issues as gay rights or AIDS, journalists in Eastern Bloc countries, she says, typically “take the government’s side. Instead of mediating between popular notions and giving a voice to people in the minority, the journalists instead propagate public opinion.”
Working in partnership with the Center for International Media Ethics (CIME), Purple Mind Productions’ focus is on Romanian journalism. “We’ve established a network of ethical journalists in fourteen countries and produce television news packages and documentaries in thirteen languages,” Jordan says.
Launched in October 2011, Purple Mind Productions delivers news, current affairs, features, and documentaries to the international media. CNN was one of the company's recent clients, as Ciobanu has been covering the anti-government protests in Romania for the American channel.
Jordan and her coworkers feel empowered by the idea that their work could create social change in Romanian society, but there are realities to contend with, including needed financial support. “Although we’re very young and passionate, we’re still Eastern Europeans. We’re poor, and that stands in the way of some things we want to do as a company right now,” she says.
The Emory honor student, who paid for her education and supported her family by working as a big rig truck driver across America, also is enjoying her new status as an American citizen, having taken her oath in September 2011. She is the most recent recipient of the Emory Alumni Board Undergraduate Leadership Scholarship. With support from the Center for Ethics, Jordan is president of the Ethics and Arts Society on campus, a student arts organization whose mission is to explore the intersection between creativity and ethics. Through the Center for Ethics, she landed an internship position at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), helping Burmese refugees settle in Atlanta.
As Emory’s Director for the D. Abbott Turner Program in Ethics and Servant Leadership, Edward Queen says of Jordan, “Her commitment to serving the immigrants who are the IRC’s clients has been so great that every organizational weakness, every bit of human folly causes her tremendous pain and personal anguish. Never, in over a quarter of a century as a professor, lawyer, and administrator, both in the United States and internationally, have I met a student with Ms. Jordan’s sense of responsibility and commitment.”