Rzeczpospolita

We are the better ones. On Rzeczpospolita’s world view

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If one thinks that „Rzeczpospolita” is a centre-right daily, he is completely wrong. He should first look, what centre-right really means. And- he should not measure it by Polish norms and criteria, deeply deviant in that matter, as Polish politics is a reflection of country’s poor Democracy Index ratings, calling the country a “failed democracy”.

 My political stance is similar to modern European worldview- to put things straight in the start. And to explain, why I reacted when reading Mr Harasimowicz’s comments that he will keep the “centre-right bias” of the daily. Mr Harasimowicz, I think You fail to distinguish centre-right from deeply biased religious radicals, because You do not look elswhere in the region. 

Some 5 or 6 years ago, we had a flagship daily newspaper in Poland, it was „Rzeczpospolita”. The newspaper, although quite conservative, was presenting both nationalists, etatists and conservatives. When David Montgomery took over, he changed the chief editor, firing the former one (Mr. Gauden, a conservative). The bias of the newspaper changed towards national catholicism, etatism, protectionism, clericalism. Polish Wikipedia calls it as a change from moderate to conservative position, but „moderate” in Polish world already denounces „conservative” in the Western world.
Recently the newspaper was selling only 20 thousand issues at newsagent’s stands. Approx. 100 thousand copies were recently sold by abonament, even my company ordered it because of the legal and economic parts of the newspaper. Though at some point I heavily lobbied in our company to stop ordering „Rzeczpospolita” (when my university teacher Mr. Jan Winiecki, was heavily abused in the editorial article). However, our accountants succesfully protested.
It is sad that Mr. Montgomery made this newspaper even more biased, even more conservative. The newspaper spread hatred to some minorities already well before. I used to read it when I was a teenager, it made me even a radical conservative for some period in my teenage life. I remember that the newspaper fought war with non-materialists, some postmodern phenomenon, that was decribed as „social dirt”, if I well remember. I would now consider „Rzeczpospolita” to play on fascist notes in the past.
The current editor-in-chief used to write for radical Catholic magasines like „Fronda” (I would call this magasine a bit clerical-fascist), but he also wrote to moderate Catholic „Znak”. I would describe him as a hardline religious conservatist. His political bias is quite frankly admitted, and it is not centre-right, as he do not endorses in his editorial activity any pro-democratic activities.

His newspaper is one of “the more totalitarian” pilars of Polish repressive Catholic society. I would not consider his work as journalism, by any means. His articles show rather his deeply conservative views, with no place for non-biased, professional objectivity: http://blog.rp.pl/lisicki/2009/04/ .Well, maybe that is just some professional clerical Catholic journalism. I frankly do not know. Everyone has a right to do so, but- doing so he risks of being indicated as the one that is not open enough for the post of an editor in multiucultural, multireligious society. 

Now we have social media. The „Rzeczpospolita” in comparison looks dried out of energy, looks like media for elderly people, looks like a fossil. When some two-three months ago I took the daily to my hand, 90 % of advertisements were from state-owned agencies, quangos or state bodies, as if the private sector of the economy was non-existent. As the Polish state is co-owner (49 % of shares) of this peculiar newspaper, it may give orders to its companies to support its media, to not to subsidize it directly from state treasury.
Every newspaper has its own readers. In the past „Rzeczpospolita” was a counterbalance to etatist/socialist middle-market-tabloid, „Wyborcza”. Now we, supporters of free market reforms in Poland, are left without any newspaper. Etatist, pro-keynesian tabloid „Wyborcza” took everyone who was socially progresive. We, even moderate market liberals, lost most of socially progressive supporters of free market, as there were no other daily media supporting moderate social stance combined with some degree of economic liberalism. Such as the centre-right ideology, but in Western Europe.
Poland needs normal media. Is „normal”, „pluralist”, „open” – something extraterrestrial for You, Dear new shareholders of „Rzeczpospolita”? Why in Western Europe non-partisan, less-biased media are possible, and in Poland we are sinking into the swamp of media-turned-into-political-camps? Having a professional journalists employed, journalist that have a high sense of professional ethics, it is possible to run a newspaper open to everyone, such as modern social media are.
Mecom also owns a group of daily local newspapers, tabloids of rather horrible quality (except maybe the one in Opole). There were plans to combine it into one nation-wide daily, with local supplements, as Your competitor did it, creating „Polska- The Times”. However, Mr Montgomery somehow completely failed doing this project. And „Polska-the Times”, even if it is a middle-market tabloid, proved to be more open than many other Polish newspapers.
To be honest. It is sad that something like „Rzeczpospolita” exist on Polish market. It is just a fossil of the „old good days” of quasi-regime position of printed press, that was free to decide, whom to publish and whom to reject. Old totalitarian spirit that in the times of past regime inhabited newsrooms, it just got baptised, changed his confession to Polish taint of radical Catholicism.
Though- I deeply feel that this spirit, and the  credo- „WE ARE THE BETTER ONES”- still persists. We are not pares inter pares. „Rzeczpospolita”, in the past was even considered to be a flagship of Polish journalism, possibly of the lack of any alternative. And now- it is a radicalised fossil, with a childish egoistic view of some sort of spiritual or intelectual supremacy that I had in my late teens.

I cannot remember to have read any article not devoted to economics there in the last couple of months. For centre-right readers it is a no-go area. Even one journalist of „Rzeczpospolita”, Mr Igor Janke, runs independent and social media service Salon24, that is more pluralistic than most of Polish daily newspapers.

Where are You going? Why the move is not into quality? Being a kind of intelectual Polish elite, I read and run only social media in Internet. They are the most progressive, witty, open. And – these media are just social, it is crowd-sourced out of the content that a thousand of my friends is daily adding to the Net.
„Rzeczpospolita” is for me, as a Polish non-Christioan religious minority, a daily of hardline Catholics and no one else. I somehow feel it resembles a provintional Polish Catholic church, with its sorrowful mood, contemplative, boring atmosphere, and radicalised social views, that often hide some threads of totalitarian ideologies.
The newspaper is not open to other ideologies, as someone claims in the „http://www.wpolityce.pl/” website. It is closed to liberals or even to modern Polish centre-right in the Westerneuropean sense (although, they printed Polish socialists). Polish young social liberals have their own not-so-small world of Polish edition of “Vice”, the only modern media containing modern genres of journalism such as gonzo-journalism, www.viceland.com/pl/ , or, they rely purely on social media. Polish modern centre-right has liberte.pl among others. 
Mr Montgomery turned to be a peculiar businessperson, with rather radical approach to freedom of speech (case of „hardcore bias” of his Rzeczpospolita). Writing my letter, I hope for some changes. I do not think that we need “biased’ newspapers anymore. There were times when some of Polish electronic independent media, like Salon24 some year ago, provided quite less biased  coverage, publishing articles from all the legally admitted political spectrum. Rzeczpospolita was never such case.
Adam Fularz

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