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Book Chapter

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Cambridge University Press


Journalists and journalism in Poland were important actors and elements in the battles of Solidarity. The media they produced was a major concern for both Solidarity and the government. And, while battles went on between Solidarity and the government over issues related to the mass media, journalists fought with both sides to be allowed to produce what they felt, as professionals, was right. Some of their number used professional positions to take active roles in government and others used them to take roles in Solidarity. Still others used the journalists' association to increase professional power and autonomy and to negotiate policy as their profession's representatives. But, whatever their personal or institutional politics, journalists almost universally agreed on what their professional demands and stances should be, just as they had done in earlier years. Most of those stances made it difficult for them to conform to the ruler's wishes.

When martial law was imposed, journalists were the first of the professional groups in Poland to organize to resist it. In addition, their actions during the Solidarity period appeared so threatening and powerful to the rulers that journalists, as a group, were directly attacked in the initial martial law declarations. More than one-third of Poland's journalists in those first days were either fired from their jobs or refused to work in their old positions in the face of the retreat from media freedom. The journalists' professional association then became the first formal professional group since the communist takeover in 1945 to be permanently disbanded and replaced. The group's undeclared "crime," both before and after martial law, appears ultimately to have been ~ts insistence on acting and being treated as professionals rather than as obedient followers of political leaders.

Chapter of

Poland's Journalists: Professionalism and Politics


This material has been published in Poland's Journalists: Professionalism and Politics by Jane L. Curry. This version is free to view and download for personal use only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © Cambridge University Press.



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