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PiS wanted to gain influence in Onet and Wirtualna Polska. “Every situation like this needs to be publicized”

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Again, there’s a reason to say it out loud. Our primary duty is to keep an eye on those in power and to provide credible information based on proven sources. This is a fragment of the declaration of editors and editors-in-chief of dozens of free media editorial offices in Poland. After the authorities again try to press the editorial freedom.

The media is for the governed – not for the rulers. For people – not for power. The editors-in-chief of the two largest Internet portals found out how recently the PiS authorities wanted to break this rule. The editor-in-chief of Onet described how a man of power came to him with an indecent proposal to appoint a person to the position of deputy editor-in-chief who would be responsible for representing the government’s point of view in Onet and would report directly to the management board, not the editorial office. – I thought it was a joke. But then it turned out that my interlocutor absolutely seriously wanted to do this business with me. He even wanted to point me to a specific person for this position. It was not surprising that he was a person closely associated with the media controlled by the authorities – says Bartosz Węglarczyk, editor-in-chief of Onet.

Declaration of editors-in-chief on media independence

The editor-in-chief of wp.pl described how the authorities wanted to buy the portal through a state-owned company. As someone associated with the authorities suggested which journalist to fire and which to hire. How was the proposal to employ a specific deputy chief – identical to Onet. – Each such situation, if it happens, must be publicized, we must trumpet it loudly – warns Paweł Kapusta, editor-in-chief of wp.pl. For free media journalists, these attempts were not even a surprise. – The fact that independent media in Poland is under threat is obvious – says Marek Twaróg, editor-in-chief of the press.pl portal.

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This authority has already taken over the local newspapers Polska Press through Orlen. They do not discuss topics that are inconvenient for the authorities. – If the authorities influence what will be published in the media, only content favorable to the authorities will be published there, and the media are there to keep an eye on the hands of the authorities. I know that this is a worn slogan and it is repeated everywhere, but it is the truth – emphasizes Janusz Kucharski, editor-in-chief of “Gazeta Radomszczańska”. Government television is the government’s propaganda tube. Millions of public money flow to the media that support the government. Independent media is in trouble. – We have 18 weeks left of the current concession and I don’t know what will happen after November 3. Still, the National Broadcasting Council has not dealt with our application – says Kamila Ceran, editor-in-chief of Tok FM radio.

Stick: In a democracy, free media is the fuse TVN24

Together for the truth

The National Broadcasting Council, which, according to the constitution, is supposed to guard the freedom of speech, has also been taken over by the authorities. Free media harass, harass and hinder functioning. – The point is that our party, the party of power, should control all the media – this is how the PiS mentality is described by Bartosz Węglarczyk. It is no secret that the authorities delayed the concession for TVN24 until the very end, because they wanted exactly what they want in Onet and wp.pl now. – We will have some influence on what is happening on this television – said Marek Suski, PiS MP.

It didn’t work then and it won’t work now. Free media will not be intimidated. “We just have to stick together in solidarity with each other. Don’t let go, resist, and defend the essence of our profession. Journalists are not minions of the ruling party, warns Bartosz Wieliński, deputy editor-in-chief of “Gazeta Wyborcza”. Then, when the existence of TVN24 was threatened, and now, in the face of unprecedented pressure on independent portals, free media are together and show solidarity. The big nationwide ones and the small local ones. – So that journalists know that if we are pressed by politicians, that if we are forced to take certain actions somewhere, then in a moment we will not have independent journalism in Poland at all – claims Dariusz Długosz, editor-in-chief of “Nowa Gazeta Trzebnicka”.

Editors assure that they will fight together for free media and citizens’ right to reliable information. They also ensure that they will consistently inform about any attempt by the authorities to influence their editorial offices. – They will not compromise with the authorities – promises Bartosz Wieliński. This is an important, unambiguous and common signal for the authorities. Do not try to buy us, because with us – free media – it will not work.

Main photo source: TVN facts

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