Independent sources of information, particularly in the form of underground publications (samizdat), played an important role in the fall of communism in the Soviet bloc. Independent media also have an important mission to perform during the transformation of the system, promoting democracy and the free market, particularly on the local and regional level. Independent periodicals, radio, television, internet bulletins and publishing houses should provide objective information, explain the political and economic changes taking place, mobilize public opinion to support transparent and efficient government. Unfortunately, a majority of the media in post-Soviet countries remain weak, particularly in the provinces. Moreover, the political climate of these countries has not favored the growth of free media in recent years.
The formerly communist country with the greatest experience in creating independent media under dictatorship as well as the growth of such media during the period of democratic transformation is Poland. Currently, Poland has a large sector of mutually competing public media (especially electronic) as well as private media. This fosters the development of objective journalism. At the same time, numerous local media have been established which are successfully supplementing the large nationwide media. These media are characterized not only by professional journalism, but also by professional management, technical preparation and distribution. Another important element is the functioning of laws that protect the freedom to publish as well as the right to information, together with organizations defending the rights of journalists and maintaining the profession’s level of ethics. Poland’s experiences can be used in the post-Soviet countries.
The seventh edition of the "Independent media" program is planned for this year. Nearly 30 journalists from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine will be invited to Poland. During study visits, they will have an opportunity to visit the editorial offices of newspapers and magazines, radio and TV stations, internet portals and information agencies. They will acquaint themselves with the work and experiences of their Polish colleagues. The study visits will be tailored to the professions and specializations of the guests. Also planned are seminars and lectures on such subjects as: the transformation of the Polish media after 1989, laws regulating public and private media, investigative journalism, media ethics, journalists’ organizations, advertising and the media, the problem of competition in the media, political lobbying and independence of the media.
The program is financed by the National Endowment for Democracy (USA).
Participants will be selected by means of an open competition, with the winners chosen by the social Council of the Programme, consisting of:
- Maciej Łętowski (Radio Information Agency) - Chairman of the Council,
- Izabela Kraj (the daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita),
- Michał Kacewicz (the weekly magazine Newsweek Poland),
- Tomasz Lachowicz (the daily newspaper Super Express),
- Grzegorz Miecugow (television TVN),
- Maria Przełomiec (independent journalist cooperating with the newspaper „Dziennik” and The Polish State Television),
- Bartosz Węglarczyk (the daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza),
- Jagienka Wilczak (the weekly magazine Polityka).
The Council will also evaluate implementation of the Project.
Detailed information on the project, together with application forms.