Monday, 28 October 2013

Poland's news portals: why I don't use them

Going online to read what Poland's news media have to say about the life and death of Tadeusz Mazowiecki (see previous post), I discover just how poor they are. I say 'discover'; I rarely bother going online to check national news for Poland. Most days, I'll buy Gazeta Wyborcza at the kiosk, preferring to spend 2.50 złotys (50p), rather than going online to read what's happening.

I start with Here, I'm greeted by a huge banner for the new Opel Insignia. Scrolling down past what Lech Wałesa has to say, I get to a b&w pic of a smiling Tadeusz Mazowiecki flanked by a smiling Kaczyński brother (can't tell which one) and a smiling Donald Tusk. Photo from the late '80s/early '90s. This looks interesting. I click on it to read more... Up pops an advert for toothpaste, a woman's smiling mouth. I click to close the ad, but up pops a film clip of a female figure skater. Oh dear. The Great Man is barely cold and I can't get to the story because of an ad for toothpaste. I scroll down. Sport, sport and more sport (note for the famous - try not to die on a Monday, as the news will be crowded out by the weekend's sport), an advert for Chevron, an advert for an investment fund, weather. As a news portal home page, it has one thing going for it - a lack of celebrity trivia... I keep scrolling, and behold, I finally find some interesting content - storm hits England, some new Smolensk photos including a birch with bits of Tupolev wing embedded in it, railway tunnel under Bosphorus opens.

Right then - on to another news portal, Less advertising. the death of Tadeusz Mazowiecki (an iconic figure for the leadership of Gazeta Wyborcza) is the third article after two pieces that reveal an internal power struggle within Platforma Obywatelska (a jobs-for-the-boys story). I question the news value of these stories as homepage leads - evidently Wyborcza is either out to get Schetyna or Protasiuk. Like the homepage of TVN24,'s homepage is long and scrolling down takes ages. So much packed onto it, including sadly (as it's not something one finds in Gazeta's paper version) celebrity gossip. Again, analysing, I can see why I'm not a regular visitor. The paper version, however, is more serious, more responsible and more readable - in a different league altogether.

Will Rzeczpospolita's website ( fare any better? Not really. I open to get a big animated advert for Emirates airline. (I thought web advertising was all about profiling individual readers. Note to Google etc. I have no plans to spend lots of money flying to the Arabian Gulf. None. Ever.) Another ad, for photocopiers. I already got one. A monstrous banner floats down for Pioneer Pekao investment fund. I click to close. Ah! A b&w photo of Tadeusz Mazowiecki. And click here for a comment from... Patrick de Saint-Exupery. Patrick de Who? An outstanding French reporter, says Rzepa. Oh, OK. Good to get some third-party endorsement. The main article about Mazowiecki is well-written piece, with lots of voices from the era, including Wałęsa's recently invented justifications for his ill-judged interventions which brought about the downfall of the Mazowiecki government included. I must say, of the three Polish news portals, Rzepa's is closest to my conception of what a good one should (and shouldn't) include.

Amazingly, Gnash Dziennik's website ( makes no mention of Tadeusz Mazowiecki's death, which is surprising, since on the front page we learn that Krakow airport is changing its timetable. Why they have chosen to remain silent about the death of a man who led Poland out of communism is extremely puzzling.

So - have I missed any Polish news portals where the main stories of the day unfold, with quality reporting and commentary?

I must say, I now know why I hardly ever visit any. I do check in regularly to the two main Warsaw news portals ( and, the better of the two), and to the BBC. This leads me to an interesting observation - the future of online news will be global and local. What goes on in between is less interesting.


Marcin said...

"Amazingly, Gnash Dziennik's website ( makes no mention of Tadeusz Mazowiecki's death, which is surprising, since on the front page we learn that Krakow airport is changing its timetable. Why they have chosen to remain silent about the death of a man who led Poland out of communism is extremely puzzling." Why? Michael? Let me explain. Try to find, what Mazowiecki has written, while he was in-charge of the deputy editor of the "Wroclaw Catholics Weekly", and especially after a trial of priest bishop Czeslaw Kaczmarek, who was sentenced for teens years of prison. Use a Google Search and find an article entitled Wnioski + Mazowiecki. Find also an article "The Catholics against the Church" (Katolicy przeciw kościołowi) published by a moderate centrist "Rzeczpospolita" (Filip Musiał 03-12-2007). And obviously, these days, you may not find of all of that in a mainstream propaganda, glorifying Mazowiecki.

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Marcin -

This is well documented in Wikipedia's biography of Mazowiecki.Which makes the TVN assertion that 'he spent all of the communist era in opposition' a downright lie.

However, I can appreciate the appeal that communism may have had on idealistic young people in the immediate post-war years; Szymborska,Kuroń, Balcerowicz, who were at first taken in by the cynical promises, then changed their minds when they saw the brutal and stupid reality of the regime.

While he was undoubtedly a fellow-traveller in 1946-72, he decidedly turned against the regime during the mid-70s, and worked towards its orderly downfall from then on.

student SGH said...

How come,
Nasz Dziennik does mention it!

Ocena jego drogi życiowej przez osoby, które go znały i współpracowały z nim, oraz historyków nie jest jednoznaczna. – Mazowiecki jest niewątpliwie czarną postacią w polskiej historii – stwierdza Andrzej Gwiazda (...)

– Był jedną z tych osób, która odegrała olbrzymią rolę w czasie strajku gdańskiego, działając na maksymalne ograniczenie jego aspiracji niepodległościowych – wspomina Antoni Macierewicz. (...)

tzw. gruba kreska stała się synonimem porozumienia z komunistycznym establishmentem przy Okrągłym Stole oraz braku lustracji i dekomunizacji, a także uwłaszczenia komunistycznej nomenklatury (...)

Były wicemarszałek Senatu Zbigniew Romaszewski uważa, że kandydatura Mazowieckiego na premiera „była zdecydowanie nietrafiona”, a on sam nie sprawdził się na tym stanowisku. (...)

And now you know what to think, the content of ND's article somehow clashes ('contrasts' would be an overt misnomer) with your previous post.

The so called mainstream media did not have that much courage after 10 April 2010 to present a similarly balanced assessment of the late president Lech Kaczyński.

Had some time recently to read right-wing portals (for months I'd kept away from them, not willing to fray my nerves) and the undercurrent of what can be found there is getting more and more extreme (just like Toyah's blog which seems more rabid).

Funnily enough, almost no one comments on the cover of wSieci weekly...

student SGH said...


the bone of contention was not whether he worked, but how he worked.

Mazowiecki tried do dismantle the system peacefully, avoiding bloodshed, social conflict and confrontation with 'allies' from the Soviet union. His critics argue he should have tried to overturn the communism and dependence from the Soviet union with his bare hands, which would probably mean hundreds or thousands of senseless death, destruction and more tragic anniversaries to commemorate. It is a matter of choice between realpolitik and wild goose chase at any price.

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Student SGH

When I posted just after ten last night (16 hours after the announcement of Mazowiecki's death), there was still not a word about it on Gnash Dziennik's portal. The finely nuanced piece you referred to was posted at 02:22 this morning, giving the portal enough time to gather quotes from six right-thinking individuals who could fling just the right amount of mud on Mazowiecki's memory without it appearing churlish.