Wednesday, June 04, 2008


I haven't like the name of a newspaper so much since I was at the University of Missouri where a student newspaper is the Maneater. But this name, and the little sketch of a German Shepherd's head in the masthead of a Moldovan weekly started by women investigative reporters, confuses readers.

They ask all the time why a dog? the chief editor told me. Why not a bear, a lion, something powerful?

Another translation for Ziarul de garda, the Romanian name of the 5,000-circulation, 8-page newspaper that specializes in human rights violations and corruption is Guardian. But the editors meant watchdog, so they set out to find a model for their publicity when they started operations a new years ago.

Not many Moldovans have dogs. They are too expensive. But politicians have pets so the editors began visiting big shots to see about photographing their animals as a mascot. The problem, the chief editor said, was that the animals appeared to her to be too similar to their owners, rather fat and dumb looking.

Then the editor remembered a story she'd done as a TV reporter about a little girl whose pilot father had disappeared in Siberia. As a consolation in her grief, friends had given her a puppy. It turned out the woman had grown into a singer with a well-known band and her puppy was a dog neither fat nor dumb. The two became stars of the newspaper's publicity poster.

One other thing the editor liked about the mascot -- Bagera is a bitch.

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