Journalism Award

Ion Rațiu Journalism Award was launched in 2015 to promote investigative journalism and journalists.



The first privately-owned daily to be launched after the 1989 revolution, Cotidianul (The Daily) was founded in 1991 by Ion Raţiu. Formerly a journalist at the BBC, Raţiu, who later rose to become an eminent figure in Romanian politics, established Cotidanul as non-aligned, moderate and objective. Its design and writing style are reminiscent of The Guardian, where Cotidanul‘s journalists were initially trained.

After Raţiu’s death, the print version was modernised and opted for a French-style tabloid format. Unlike its fellow newspapers, the Cotidanul website is constantly updated. Faced with serious financial difficulties, the newspaper was printed for the last time on December 23, 2009. Its website remains active.

Nominations are made by three professional organizations that promote media ethics: the Center for Independent Journalism, Active Watch and the Romanian Center for Investigative Journalism.

The Award is inspired by the example of Ion Rațiu who, upon his return to Romania after 50 years in exile, fought for freedom of the press, a necessary condition of any functional democracy. His struggle to start an independent newspaper and television station that would present news without the bias of former state propaganda were partially successful as the first issue of Cotidianul appeared on May 10th 1991, but the television station was never been approved.

Ovidiu Vanghele (2017)

Ovidiu Vanghele is the 2017 Ion Rațiu Journalism Awardee.


for “his investigative piece All the General’s Men that looked into the fortune of former Vice Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea and  his investigative series Death Map – a detailed radiography of the disaster within the Romanian social assistance system on the nearly 5000 mentally ill patients who have died over a five year span in institutionalized centers. Ovidiu’s merit lies not in only in the quality of his investigations, but also in his passion and stubbornness to reach such results without the support of a team or newsroom.”

Ovidiu Vanghele

Editor, Factual

Ovidiu Vanghele started his career in 2002 when, at the end of his first university year, was hired by MEDIAFAX Agency. During his ten years in the press agency he gradually became interested in more detailed subjects, closer to investigative journalism. He then joined the Pro TV news team, but also contributed to the nertwork’s premium show România, te iubesc!.

Less than a year later, he chose to leave mainstream media, founding the Center for Media Investigations he heads ever since.

In the past years, Ovidiu Vanghele published several press investigations tracing millions of euro spent pointlessly, illegally or simply stolen. His best known investigations focused on the abuses from mental health centers, the Romanian Academy monetary frauds, the National Railway Company’s contracts or the acquisitions made by the bosses of what is known as “Republica Constanța”. Most of these also became judiciary investigations.



He has spent almost the entire 2016 documenting, together with Ana Poenariu, the series “Toți oamenii generalului” (Rise Project), on the personal and financial development of Gabriel Oprea, one of the biggest paradoxes of Romanian politics.

Aside from investigative journalism, the past years he formed and headed the editorial team of EurActiv Romania. At present Ovidiu Vanghele is editor of Romania’s biggest fact-checking platform,, a Funky Citizens’ project.



“for her 2015 investigation on the doctoral plagiarism of Vice Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea, Emilia Șercan is distinguished with the second Ion Rațiu Journalism Award.”

Emilia Șercan


Emilia Șercan (2016)

Emilia Șercan is the 2016 Ion Ratiu Journalism Awardee.

Emilia Șercan started her apprenticeship in 1996 in her hometown Vatra Dornei where she did pretty much everything, from newspapers to radio and television. In 2000 she joined the event and investigation section of Curierul Național and in 2003 became part of the investigation department of Evenimentul Zilei.

Since 2009 she works as independent journalist and since 2010 she is senior editor of Emilia Șercan is lecturer of the Faculty of Journalism and Communication Science, University of Bucharest.


She coordinated hundreds of investigative stories, among them Mătuşa Tamara, Afacerile din energie ale „băieţilor deştepţi” şi ale lui Bogdan Buzăianu, Afacerile de după FNI ale lui SOV, Averea lui Dan Ioan Popescu, Dosarul Bancorex, Ziarişti – foşti informatori ai Securităţii, Afacerile lui Puiu Popoviciu. In 2008 she joined Realitatea-Cațavencu as head of investigation department, that provided materials for Cotidianul  and Realitatea TV.

Nominations were made by Cătălin Tolontan, Center for Independent Journalism, Active Watch and the Journalism Department of the Faculty of Political, Administrative and Communication Sciences. The awardee has been selected by the members of CRD’s Board.

Cătălin Tolontan (2015)

Cătălin Tolontan is the first Ion Ratiu Journalism Awardee.


“for carrying out and publishing in a sports profile publication the most impactful media investigations in the last years; because he proved that one can produce quality journalism also when employed by a mogul media owner and that journalists can interfere with the media owner’s interests, avoiding any compromise; because he was able to defend this independence through his professionalism and his management style that did bring profit to media owners (…)”.

Cătălin Tolontan

Redactor-șef, Gazeta Sporturilor

One of the most renowned Romanian sports and investigation journalists, editor in chief and general manager of Gazeta Sporturilor, author of a multi-awarded blog


Awardee of ten “journalist of the year” distinctions in the past 12 years, Cătălin Tolontan joined in 1990 the student newspaper of the Academy of Economic Studies, thus marking his media debut. In the past decade he was the author along his colleagues of several high profile journalistic investigations, exposing corruption either in Romanian football clubs or high officials in key governmental institutions.

His 2009 investigative piece that lead to the stepping down and later prosecution of the Minister of Youth and Sport, Monica Iacob – Ridzi was mentioned in the 2009 European Commission’s Report on Romania and the USA’s State Department Report on Romania.


The  investigation started in 2013 with colleague Mirela Neag regarding the illegal financing of the Bute Gala, lead to the formal prosecution, early 2015, of several people, including the former Minister of Tourism, Elena Udrea. It  won the prestigious 2014 International News Media Association Awards for Best Use of An Event to Build a News Brand.

Cătălin Tolontan Made an Impressive

Speech when Receiving the Ion Rațiu Journalism Award

The first receiver of the Journalism Ion Rațiu Award, Cătălin Tolontan, editor-in-chief of Gazeta Sporturilor, admitted on Saturday,  June 6th 2015, in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, that he responded to the invitation made by Rațiu Democracy Center although he avoided public and TV appearances in the last years.

He wore red pants at the award ceremony, as a ”fancy homage to the most tonic figure” he had ever seen on the public stage. “Any journalist is questioning how long his work will resist. I believe that one of the answers came from the most tonic figure I have ever met on the Romanian public stage. As long as there are people like Ion Rațiu to keep their arms wide and to shape a space for dialogue – not with arrogance or with complacency, but with a little courage and a lot of compassion (the way he did in 1991 in the Parliament, when outraged miners forcefully entered the institution during a Parliament sitting –our note) – the public will know that the media stands for them. I thank you and Romanian journalists”, said Mr. Tolontan. At the end of his speech, he also announced that he wants to offer the financial part of the award to a local journalist, to be named by the same organizations that nominated him for the Ion Rațiu Journalism Award.

For the first edition of the award, nominations were made by the Independent Journalism Center, Active Watch and the Romanian Investigation Journalism Center. The winner was selected by the CRD Board members. Mr. Tolontan was nominated “for carrying out and publishing in a sports profile publication the most impactful media investigations in the last years; because he proved that one can produce quality journalism also when employed by amogul media owner and that journalists can interfere with the media owner’s interests, avoiding any compromise; because he was able to defend this independence through his professionalism and his management style that did bring profit to media owners (…)”.

The journalist received the award from the younger son of Ion Rațiu, Nicolae, who had a special gift for the winner: a collection of articles written by his father in the most popular newspapers in the world.

CRD and the Awardee of the Ion Rațiu Journalism Award Support a Local Journalist

Journalist Feri Predescu from Constanța has received the money prize granted together with the Ion Rațiu Journalism Award (1.000 EUR), according to the desire of the first edition awardee –Cătălin Tolontan.

“Thank you for this award, which I receive with emotion. Please accept that the money goes to a journalist from the local media. I am kindly asking the jury and the organizations that selected me to make a proposal”, said Tolontan when receiving the award, during the CRD Workshop (5-7 June 2015).

Feri Predescu has been a journalist since 1993 and has experience in written press, radio and TV. She is currently working for a local radio station in Constanța and is the correspondent of Evenimentul Zilei and of Europa FM.

“Feri Predescu is the outspoken, extremely inconvenient journalist, who oftentimes disturbed because she wanted to discover the truth and make it reachable, revealing scenarios that were supposed to remain undisclosed”. This is how colleagues from Ziua de Constanța describe Feri Predescu.

In 2008, Active Watch – Media Monitoring Agency initiated a campaign to support Feri Predescu, who had lost a libel lawsuit filed by the former mayor of Constanța, Radu Mazăre, being forced to pay him 15.000 EUR. According to Active Watch, the final and irrevocable decision against the journalist is “a victory of corruption and organized crime against freedom of speech”.

The initiative of Active Watch was supported by well-known journalists and by media NGO representatives.

Although the journalist made an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, she is still forced to pay the amount of 15.000 EURO in the meantime, according to the rescheduling decided by the judges. Therefore the money received from CRD came right on time, being directed in the account of this debt, as mentioned by the journalist.