Sunday, August 06, 2006

Free speech is a concept...

...that some don’t understand.

As Our man in Gdansk notes, being a journalist in the mainstream Polish media is becoming a hazardous business, in these dark days.

He says:

This time it's Mariusz Ziomecki, who called a League of Polish Families deputy a "babsztyl" (big fat aul' one) and a liar in a tabloid, and is now being investigated for "defaming a public functionary." The prosecutor's office called him in for questioning.

'Our man' wants to know what could possibly be the topic of discussions and enquiry – the comments are in the public realm already.

But what the prosecutor will want to know is the motive behind the comments. They are also using the occasion to intimidate journalists in the private sector into more self-censorship.

In the public sector media journalists are being asked to hand over lists of names that they use as commentators. If who ever is in charge – often a government functionary – doesn’t like some of the names on the list then they are banned from the airwaves.

The coalition government feels under siege from a media where they have few friends. It’s interesting to note that all the mainstream weekly titles – even the right wing conservative Wprost – are lining up to have a go at the government. It’s unprecedented in the western world that a government has no friends at all in the MSM.

For friendly coverage the government turns to religious crazies at the Radio Maryja media group who are only too pleased to use ministers for their own peculiar ends.

If I were the government I would drop the intimidation of journalists and try and make some meaningful contacts.

But, at the moment, with opinion polls showing that Law and Justice are retaining their support in the polls, I don’t think this is about to happen anytime soon.

10 comments:

Michael Farris said...

For quite some time, I've been saying that the ducks didn't like certain ideological aspects of the communist period, but they wholeheartedly approve of the management style.

stefanmichnik said...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/1925870.stm

Was Mr. Chancellor also wholeheartedly approving the communist management style?...

Michael Farris said...

Schroeder's action was indefensable. Such a thin-skinned loser has no business in government.

But, IIRC Schroeder pursued a civil libel suit and did not sick the public prosecutor on the journalist in question. There's quite a difference between the two situations.

beatroot said...

Exactly Mike. This is using the criminal law against journalists. This is not the behaviour of western governments. The attempted control the day to day working of the public media is unprecedented in Polish post-communist history.

StefanMichnik said...

beatroot said: "The attempted control the day to day working of the public media is unprecedented in Polish post-communist history"

beatroot don't make a fool of yourself, please. Where have you been when Robert Kwiatkowski was in charge of public TV, when materials showing drunk kwasniewski in Katyn were not allowed to be shown neither in public nor private TV? Still in England? Good for you! Did you dare to protest against that?

This law is a stupid law from communist times, I agree. But it was not changed so it is still applicable. There were people (also journalists!) who were sentenced for defaming president Aleksander Kwasniewski.

This hole talk about "dark times" is an an effect of public hysteria carefully engineered by chattering classes. For people who helped legitimize a murky postcommunist system. Now they feel they are loosing their influence so they start to talk about "danger of fascism" and all that crap. But don't be affraid beatroot - if you are a good specialist and you were not in nasty things you won't be kicked out! My promise:)

StefanMichnik said...

involved in nast things...

beatroot said...

beatroot don't make a fool of yourself, please. Where have you been when Robert Kwiatkowski was in charge of public TV, when materials showing drunk kwasniewski in Katyn were not allowed to be shown neither in public nor private TV?

But everybody knew about that.

I am not claiming that there was not interference during those times. What I am saying is that what is going on now is qualitativly on another level. I don't remember journalists being given lists of who and who they cannot talk to!

And was a POlish head of state under the impression that he could take legal action against a magazine in another country?

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