Is there anybody out there? For a better communication between Romanian public administrators and their constituencies.

AuthorVlad, Tudor

During many training programs for journalists and/or government communicators in East and Central Europe (1), discussions have often focused on the same complaints and concerns by both sides. Journalists were often claiming that government officials were hostile to the media, unwilling to share the information, secretive or lacked communication skills. Government officials were saying that journalists were lazy, superficial, biased or did not represent the public's interest. What the participants in the programs usually concluded after three or four days of workshop was that, while local or central government entities and media do not always have the same goals, they can work with each other to the betterment of the public if both parties are honest and respect each other.

Modern public administration education has become a part of the academic curricula in East and Central European universities only in the early nineties. Public administration schools have experienced a significant development only after the fall of the communist regimes in the CEE countries; after this moment they strived to develop in a similar way to their Western or American counterparts (Hintea, 2013). Post-academic training programs in public administration hosted by universities in East and Central Europe have been rare, and usually their goals have been narrow. An exception is the new program on communication management in the public sector, a partnership between the College of Political Sciences, Public Administration and Communication at Babe?-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government and the Cox International Center, University of Georgia, USA (Faclia, 2013). As a result, most of the government sector employees in East and Central Europe, and especially Romanian employees in the public administration sector haven't had the opportunity to attend educational programs that fit the needs of their occupation or had the opportunity to enhance their professional development.

One of the most important issues related to public administration organizations is their ability to communicate effectively with their constituencies. As with public administration education and training, Romania has a very short history of communication education (Coman, 2007). Before 1989, there was only one school of journalism in the entire country and its courses were based on the communist doctrine. After the fall of communism, new journalism and communication programs were created within universities, but the quality of the education was uneven and courses on professional communication have been added only recently (Vlad and Balasescu, 2010). However, a potential advantage in the future for Romanian graduates in public administration is that their programs are often hosted by colleges of political sciences, public administration and journalism, which makes it easy to incorporate into their curriculum communication courses.

Good communication skills are crucial for senior public administration employees. According to some studies (Scudder, 2012), 90% of the job of a CEO is communication. Though the job descriptions are not similar, there are resemblances between the work of executives in the private sector and the duties of top public administrators managers: their employees have to be motivated to do a good job, social groups and individual citizens need to believe that the organization operates ethically, and that the services that are offered are safe and reliable. Senior public administrators communicate with their constituents in a variety of ways. They should always have in mind the principles of good communication. What they say has to be clear, concise, credible, and delivered with confidence (Scuder, 2012, p. 4). As the central and local governments' work is reflected in the media and mass communication channels, these become an efficient way to disseminate information to large audiences. As a result, understanding how the media function is of great value to public administrators. Sigal (1973) argues that the larger the news organization, the more complex its characteristics of bureaucracy are. No matter the size however, every media outlet develops routines to generate stories. These 'news routines', as described by...

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