Est-Curier is a print and online newspaper based in Criuleni, halfway between Chisinau, the capital, and the Western border with Ukraine. It’s been operating since 1997, but the COVID-19 crisis hit its advertising revenue hard, bringing the media to its knees. Just as the editorial team were considering closing, the media outlet received a grant in the framework of the European Union Emergency Support that has alowed them to continue their activity and to take advantage of Moldova’s recovering market.

“As of mid-March 2020, […] we continued to carry out our editorial work from home. Each journalist had to cover the costs for phone, internet and ended up working much more than usual. We had to reduce salaries and to pay for the office costs, even though we did not use it for a few weeks. We had to take a loan to pay off the urgent debts such as taxes, fees, electricity.”, Elena Motricală, Director of the Est-urier

In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, advertising revenues plummeted and “Est- Curier” struggled to survive. The crisis resulted in salary cuts and staff layoffs – just as journalists and the editorial team themselves were struggling with COVID-19. The newsroom however proved to be resilient and withstood the economic crisis thanks largely to financial support provided by the European Union in response to the outbreak, which helped Est- Curier cover its operating costs, and even increase its printing run. At the same time, thanks to the European Union’s financial support to Est-Curier during the pandemic, the news outlet increased its printing capacity by 10%.

“I cannot start my week without reading the newspaper. I have noticed that in the past months, the articles published are more insightful. I have always enjoyed reading the newspaper, and I was very afraid that the activity could come to an end following the pandemic crisis.”, Valentina from Onițcani, regular reader of Est-Curier

Elena Motricală, Director of the Est-Curier said that “The competition for grants announced by ERIM was the light at the end of the tunnel.” The competition for grants has been launched by the “COVID-19: Civil Society Resilience and Sustainability” – a 48 months project funded by the European Union and implemented by ERIM (formerly IREX Europe) to foster the resilience and sustainability of civil society in Eastern Partnership countries enabling them to mitigate the immediate and longer-term impact of COVID-19. “We decided to write our project proposal in the last moment when we were already thinking of giving up. Accepting the funding was an upswing and gave us confidence to continue the “Est-Curier” project,” Motricală continues.

“Est-Curier” has provided local news and information to the Criuleni and Dubăsari people for almost 25 years. Through a 12-month grant, ERIM with European Union support has helped the media outlet keep on producing and distributing its 8-page weekly newspaper, during and after the crisis.

In total, 51 editions were printed between June 2020-May 2021. The editorial team is made up of 5 journalists, while 3 creative editors and some external correspondents contribute to publishing and distributing the hard copy of the periodical. Est-Curier publishes around 2,500 printed copies of its newspaper every week.

“For the first time in the last ten years, none of the team members have caught a cold at work, because we allowed ourselves to pay for the heat without thinking that we will not be able to pay for the production services”, says Motricală.