Manipulation in the Disclosure of the <I>Securitate</I> Files

The Case of Mona Muscă

by Alina Petra Marinescu (Author)
©2021 Monographs 132 Pages


The book presents the reader with an applied analysis of how the concepts of information and manipulation were illustrated in the Romanian press when the Securitate files were revealed, based on the case of Mona Muscă, a controversial topic that was widely debated by most dailies at the time. One of the most important roles played by the press is agenda setting – the role of setting priorities on the individual’s agenda. Journalists draw up an imaginary list of topics of primary interest for public debate and forming different currents of opinion. The analyzed press segment revealed the predilection for a speech condemning Mona Muscă. The message received by the target audience was not a balanced, objective one, but one that contradicts the deontology of the journalistic profession.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Argument
  • CHAPTER I: Information
  • I.1. Definitions and Theories
  • I.2. Press Information
  • I.3. Processing Press Information:The Journalistic Text
  • CHAPTER II: Disinformation
  • II.1. Overview
  • II.2. Media Disinformation
  • CHAPTER III: Manipulation
  • III.1. Overview
  • III.2. Short Classification of Manipulations
  • III.3. Manipulation through the Media
  • CHAPTER IV: Politics and the Press
  • IV.1. Relationship Between Politicians and the Media
  • IV.2. Media Crisis and the Social Image
  • CHAPTER V: Case Study
  • V.1. Media Approach to the Topic of Mona Muscă
  • V.2 Development of Events in the Case of Mona Muscă
  • V.3. Analysis Material
  • V.4. Methods of Analysis
  • V.5. Information and Manipulation in the Case of Mona Muscă: Content Analysis
  • V.6. Analysis of the Headlines That Accompany the Studied Articles
  • V.7. Analysis of the Images Placed Next to the Researched Articles
  • CHAPTER VI: Conclusions
  • Bibliography
  • Index of Names
  • Series index

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These days, power manifests itself less in action than in communication. Whoever communicates better and more efficiently is more influential and, as a consequence, more powerful (Claudiu Săftoiu, 2003, p. 16).

Around 1800, theorist Edmund Burke started looking at the Reporters’ Gallery down in the House of Commons and stated: “there sits a Fourth Estate more important far than they all.”

At the time, the press that Burke was looking at had started to manifest its influence towards an audience the researchers now call mass society, a homogenous group for whom the process of message selection and interpretation was still little known. The purposes of the mass media messages oscillated between information and serving the interests of a few influential groups.

Less than two hundred years later, we are looking at professional journalism that aims at an equally suited audience. The hundreds of different means of communication speak to well-established audiences, that, despite their diversity, would eventually lean toward the same channel of distribution for the information. As time went by, the roles of the mass media changed and adapted to the individuals’ necessities.

The purpose of those who enable mass communication is not so different, however, from the one it had at the dawn of the press. The media message is still used today for two main reasons: information and serving different interests. Words such as disinformation or manipulation, although only recently entered common vocabulary, have become constant when the mass media is discussed.

The whole phenomenon started to grow once the print press and audio-visual press became the main message carriers of any kind. Whoever wants to influence the masses to obtain certain advantages depend mainly on these means of communication. Politicians are the first to appreciate visibility and propaganda as essential to maintain their privileged positions.

The politicians’ interest in the mass media is explainable, nevertheless, through the constant preoccupation of the media owners in gaining profit and leading more prosperous businesses. And the one thing that is constant ←7 | 8→in this process is the audience. The mass audience, whose preferences for a certain media station or for voting for a certain candidate are the objectives desired by both parties.

Disinformation and manipulation are two of the most well-known ways of influencing public opinion according to the interests of a certain group or person. Politicians disinform the press, the press manipulates politicians, and the audience is usually subjected to campaigns meant to transmit the information only in the form that is required by one or both parties when their interests coincide.

Deontologically speaking, the main purpose of journalism is information, not changing the audience’s perception for someone’s benefit. This argument is what stands behind this book.

At the time when her files were declassified, Mona Muscă was seen as one of the most respected politicians in Romania, which reflected in the polls and research done during her press campaigns. At the end of 2006, the people’s trust in Mona Muscă had dropped from 60 to 29 %. The forums of the online publications were only highlighting negative opinions of her, as opposed to the months before August 2006. Between August and November, the events that connected her – at the time a member of the House of Deputies – with the Securitate police started a series of media scandals, and hundreds of op-eds. and news showed up on this subject.

The polling results already mentioned, as well as the research into who might have been interested in ousting her from politics, were the foundations of the analyses, which had the following purpose: determining the extent to which the press objectively presented the facts or, on the contrary, manipulated public opinion in the case of Mona Muscă.

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CHAPTER I: Information

I.1. Definitions and Theories

The term information has been used in many different domains and can convey different meanings, depending on its purpose. Claude-Jean Bertrand considers that information is “data stocks (messages, signals, symbols) that receive meaning through the process of communication. Communication allows the human being to create new meanings, to interpret the messages and to transform ideas and knowledge through a dialogue of peers” (2001, p. 21).

According to the Larousse Media Dictionary, the word information has three meanings, each leaving room for interpretations or representations with very different connotations. The first meaning is that of a “statement or set of statements on someone or something likely to be communicated to one or more persons, located in one place or scattered” (2005, p. 170). This first meaning is also the one that was the basis of the information theory, developed in 1947 by Claude E. Shannon and Warren Weaver.

“This theory aims to break down any communication of information into several elements, from its source to its destination, as it passes through the media or channel that ensures its transmission after encoding the signal, for the receiver that decodes it to find the initial signal” (C.J. Bertrand, 2001, p. 171). This model applied to media communication was inspired by that of Harold D. Lasswell and was completed in the 1950s by other researchers, who concluded that this scheme is too simplistic, that it does not contain data on its content and significance, featuring the recipient as a passive source. They concluded that “the feedback process was often decisive, and that communication requires … a relationship between sender and receiver, which produces a certain type of effect in a given context” (C.J. Bertrand, 2001, p. 20). Subsequent research has added the idea of encoding and decoding, referring to “the new translation of the message that the receiver makes, extracting the necessary meanings” (C.J. Bertrand, 2001, p. 20).


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2021 (November)
mass-media manipulation disinformation politics content analysis newspaper articles Mona Muscă
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2021. 132 pp., 18 fig. b/w, 8 tables.

Biographical notes

Alina Petra Marinescu (Author)

Alina Petra Marinescu studied Journalism and has a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Bucharest, Romania. Her research interests include organizational burnout and mass-media manipulation. In addition to being a university teacher, the author is also a marketing and communication consultant certified as professional trainer, project manager, corporate manager and team performance manager.


Title: Manipulation in the Disclosure of the <I>Securitate</I> Files
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