Return on Investment is Personal for Romanian Editor
“I just loved Chapel Hill,” he says over strong
coffee in Cluj’s mass-media building. “It
seemed like the perfect place, a little paradise,
with those magnolia trees and colonial houses.
From a newsroom in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Doru Pop ’03 (MA) focuses on more than
just publishing hard-hitting business stories at
It was magical, like a dream for me.”
Ziarul Financiar, the Romanian equivalent of
The Wall Street Journal. For the 39-year-old
The visit reunited Pop with UNC journalism
Professor Robert L. Stevenson, who had been a
visiting lecturer at Babes-Bolyai in 1997.
Romanian journalist and university professor,
the mission is deeply personal.
Stevenson, a fixture at the J-school for 30 years
until his death in 2006 and once a Fulbright
“If you add up my scholarships and training,
the U.S. government has invested about
$200,000 in me,” says Pop, a senior editor at
the newspaper. “My own government didn’t invest a single cent in
me. I feel that I have a responsibility to use this knowledge and pass
it on every day at ZF and the practical aspect of it in my teaching. Our
students are used to theoretical
teaching. I want to give them skills
that they can use now, right here in
Scholar himself in Germany, taught legions of
Carolina students about international media
and lectured in more than 25 countries. “I knew
ated with Dracula lore but
in fact the country’s eco-
nomic engine. Cluj, one of
the country’s five largest
cities with a population of
nearly 400,000, was becoming the most impor-
tant market outside Bucharest, the bustling
capital of 2 million about 275 miles away.
Multinational corporations such as Bechtel,
Emerson and Nokia have major operations in
the area. Meanwhile, at ZF’s main
office in Bucharest, senior editors
decided to open a Cluj bureau and
launch ZF Transilvania (Romanians
don’t spell it with a “y”), the newspa-
per’s first — and still only — operation
outside the capital. Searching for an
editor in chief, they found Pop.
ANDY TRINCIA ’ 88
ZF, as the paper is commonly
known, translates literally to “The
Financial Newspaper.” It is by far
the leading financial publication
and one of the 10 most widely circulated newspapers in Romania, a
country of 22 million people that
joined the European Union in 2007.
As editor of Ziarul Financiar’s Transylvania edition, Doru Pop ’03 (MA) oversees reporters
and edits and writes stories for the daily paper and the online edition. The paper is
Romania’s equivalent of The Wall Street Journal.
The newspaper’s masthead features a lion — in Romanian, “leu,”
which is also the name of its currency. Founded in 1999, 10 years
after the Romanian revolution
ended communist rule in the former Eastern Bloc country, ZF is
owned by an international media conglomerate
backed partly by American investors, including
the Lauder family of Estée Lauder cosmetics
As editor of ZF’s Transylvania edition, Pop oversees reporters, edits
and writes stories and is responsible
for a full page in each day’s newspaper, as well as a section in the online
edition. ZF’s Transylvania team covers
about one-third of Romania’s 41
counties, similar to American states.
The most important Transylvania-based stories are published on ZF’s
front page or elsewhere in the
national edition, or translated onto
the English-language page, which is a
must-read for expatriate executives in
Pop is considered one of his country’s top
journalists — and one of the few with an American journalism degree — though the sometimes
tumultuous route he took to get there is itself a
story, in which UNC played a key role.
“ZF is the ideal place to work in
journalism in Romania, the only place
I would work, frankly,” Pop says. “We are setting the standard of professionalism here, practicing objective, verifiable, fact-oriented reporting. We do American-style journalistic pieces
every day — designed to give factual information, not motivated by some political or financial game.”
Pop founded a small newspaper in Cluj, as
locals call the city, immediately after the revolution and later was a television reporter before
becoming an academic. He first came to the
U.S. as a Fulbright Scholar in 1995, studying a
year at The New School for Social Research in
New York. In 1998, he received an International
Research & Exchanges Board grant to spend
three weeks as a visiting professor at four universities on the East Coast, including UNC’s
Pop is ashamed of some of the journalistic
practices in his country (and others), noting that
most newspapers in Romania are “muckrakers”
operating under the umbrellas of political parties and pressures of powerful business people.
Documentation with multiple sources and fact-checking are loose. Bribes for stories are common. He once fired a reporter on the spot for
leaking stories in advance to a business owner
in exchange for cash.
School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
“The J-school at Carolina was so impres-
sive,” says Pop, who has bachelor’s degrees in
“In more than five years working here, I
never received a call from my editor in
Bucharest saying, ‘You need to do a story on
this guy or that company,’ ” Pop says. “At other
newspapers in Romania, that happens on a
Romanian literature and Russian language and
a doctorate from Babes-Bolyai University, a
prestigious Romanian institution in Cluj where
he is an associate professor of journalism
focusing on media theory and visual communications.
Bob from his time in Cluj, and we really had a
bond,” Pop recalls. “During my visit in ’ 98, he
had some of us over to his house. He convinced
me that I should go to Chapel Hill.”
Pop eventually won a scholarship to enroll in
Carolina’s master’s degree program in 2001.
He gave up his professorship in Cluj and
intended to bring his growing family with him.
His wife, Mihaela, was pregnant with their second daughter. Pop arrived on campus in
August, but the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks made
Mihaela fearful, and she no longer wanted to
move to Chapel Hill. Pop was torn, but how
could he give up the scholarship and his
“It was an incredibly difficult time for me,”
Pop says. “I almost quit a few times and almost
didn’t go back after Christmas break at home.
Bob Stevenson, along with [associate professor]
Cathy Packer [’ 73] and [professor emeritus]
Phil Meyer [’ 63 (MA)], were immensely helpful
to me, and I’ll never forget that. Bob was like a
father figure to me and many other foreign students. From his own experiences, he knew what
it was like to be a foreigner in a foreign country.
He was not characteristically American in that
In 2003, armed with his hard-earned master’s degree, Pop returned to his supportive
family in Cluj. The city is an important education and industrial center in the heart of Transylvania, the region of Romania often associ-
— Andy Trincia ’ 88
UNC’s School of Journalism and Mass
Communication is changing
to deal with the new media
landscape facing the latest
generation of journalists.
Read all about it, page 36.