- TitleHead of Editorial
- AffiliationRingier Romania (Libertatea and Gazeta Sporturilor daily newspapers)
An award-winning journalist and the long-serving editor of the Gazeta Sporturilor, a leading Romanian sports publication, Tolontan has broken plenty of big stories. Twice, his paper’s investigations landed top-ranking ministers in jail. And yet none of that prepared him for the astonishing, nation-shaking revelations he and his team uncovered about Romania’s corrupt-to-the-core health system—as chronicled in the documentary Collective, which earned a couple of Oscar nominations this year. His team’s reporting focused not on why so many young people died in a devastating Bucharest nightclub fire in 2015, but on why so many of the victims died afterward while being treated in Romanian hospitals. Their discoveries were chilling and the starting point for criminal investigations, government reforms, and important if slow progress.
Tolontan stresses that the investigation (like good journalism, generally) owes its success to a newsroom and the efforts of many. He says he’s tickled that the documentary featuring his team has been so widely embraced, including by people known to otherwise be on opposite sides, like former President Barack Obama and his onetime nemesis Edward Snowden—not to mention appreciation from journalists around the world who have been inspired. Since the documentary was released, Tolontan’s newsroom has exposed untrained “doctors” in Romania and continues to work away. As for being a sports paper? Tolontan says it’s an advantage: Its audience is less likely to approach stories with a political bias, and reporters learn early that they can’t please people.