There is probably no media landscape as polarized as the Polish one. Some journalists even refuse to pronounce each other’s names – let alone understand each other’s world views. What does that do to society? What does it do to the truth? What responsibility do the journalists have?
On 8 March 1968 students took the streets to protest censorship and demand (among other things) freedom of press. Although it was crushed with violence, these ’68-demonstrations were an important prelude to the ultimately successful pro-democracy movements in Poland in later years.
Exactly 50 years later we discuss the state of the polarized media with two journalists from the ’68-generation, and two journalists from the new generation.
Seweryn Blumsztajn (1946) was an opposition activist who took part in the rallies of March ’68. Later he was involved in the Workers Defence Committee, in the 80s he worked among other things as the editor-in-chief of the Information Bulletin of Solidarnosc in Paris. In 1989, he joined the editorial board of Gazeta Wyborcza.
Janina Jankowska (1939) is an award winning radio journalist who worked for Polksie Radio during ’68. She later on became involved in the opposition and worked – alongside her ‘normal’ job – for underground media. She now has a blog on Salon24.
Jakub Majmurek (1982) is a journalist for Krytyka Polityczna and Gazeta Wyborcza. He studied political science and film criticism.
Marcin Makowski (1986) is a journalist for Do Rzeczy and Rzeczpospolita. He studied history and philosophy.
Blumsztajn and Jankowska nowadays differ in political orientation. Both of them were separately interviewed by Majmurek and Makowski, who also differ in political orientation. This resulted in two articles based on the interviews. On the 8th of March the four of them will discuss this ‘experiment’ and debate about their responsibility as a journalist in Polish society.
This debate is organized by Instytut Reportażu in collaboration with the Iron Curtain Project, a journalism initiative based in The Netherlands. The event is hosted by Teatr Nowy and the discussion will be lead Agatha Szczęśniak.
What if!? Pop-up Museum
Directly after the debate, the official opening will take place of the new pop-up museum What if!? the spirit of ’68 – today. The pop-up museum is a travelling exhibition that pops up in cities all over Europe. It connects the past with the present: what has become of the ideals of 1968 and where do we find this ‘spirit of 1968’ nowadays?
The big 8 March Media Debate and opening of the What if!? Pop-up Museum will be held on 8 March at 7 PM in Nowy Teatr, Warsaw. The entrance will be free of charge and the language of the event will be Polish. More info about the project here.