If the quality of media is the sign of maturity and strength of democracy then there is something seriously wrong in Poland these days. Either the freedom and independence of Polish citizens is a mirage or there is a serious burnt out in Polish both public and private media.
The list of sins is long including deadly and venial but embarrassing ones. If you meet with a client, your manager or you have team work session there is usually some homework to be done beforehand. Being a journalist, hosting many guests, discussing various topics sets the bar even higher. But it seems that our journalists stay cool and don’t let drive themselves crazy. As a result, on a serious news channel we witness numerous silly mistakes, mixing names, changing surnames, forgetting the field of expertise. Nothing serious, but if it happens too often, we might start wondering whether the guys who are supposed to shape our opinion are being serious about that or are they simply having great time being TV stars.
It gets even worse when it comes to topics choice. Evening news cannot cover all the issues that arise everyday around the world, fair enough. But why do we have to listen to a series of the same news over and over again on a TV channel entirely devoted to the news? It seems that you can watch TVP Info all day and still you don’t know what’s going on in the world and obviously you don’t understand the mechanism behind it. Clearly, all TV and radio channels as well as newspaper publishers have to make some sort of news selection. However, the variety of issues addressed by Polish media in comparison to e.g. British is dramatically little.
Broadcasters refute this argument claiming that Polish society is not interested in complexities of global issues and that Poles expect more local news. It’s true that Polish society is homogenous in contrast to multicultural British society which might result in lower interest in international affairs. However, TVP decision during European Parliament elections showed that TVP doesn’t really care about local issues either. During the evening election programme, while representatives of particular parties were discussing recently announced results, the discussion was rapidly stopped by the LOTTO draft. It seemed that the discussion continued in the studio instead of being withheld. Consequently, the audience couldn’t listen to comments from all of the representatives.
It is even more annoying if we consider how much time is wasted on tame and trivial discussions. You can get an impression that journalists love car crash stories especially when there are drunk driving and dead children involved. Then, they can really relax as the entire day is based on talks with the experts, politicians and viewers. Everyone can say how they would like to change the world and once they stop talking the problem is forgotten.
The role of the host has also deteriorated. Surely, you cannot be an expert in all areas, but you should do your homework and be an intelligent interlocutor. It is getting more common, that the host acts like a naive layman asking questions about feelings, predictions, alternative scenarios instead of challenging his guests and in this way presenting a broader picture. Discussions start resembling sessions with a fortune teller and do not contribute to our better understating of the world.
Ideally, media should control the government and provide citizens with thorough information that they can rely on while shaping their own opinion. However, it seems that many citizens do not bother to have an opinion. They prefer easy entertainment and the most they can take is infotainment. So being under financial pressure, media accommodate themselves to the expectations. They provide shortcuts and easy solutions instead of presenting the complexity of particular issues. Media don’t facilitate public debate or encourage critical thinking. Perhaps we could put up with it, but it gets completely absurd if we are to pay obligatory radio and television license fee.
It is so sad because there is no longer any regime or other country in control of Polish media. Instead there is one cordial sin on the part of TV professionals and the audience- sloth. We are too lazy to care what we produce and what we watch. The good news is that starting with ourselves we can initiate a change. Turning away from main Polish TV channels, searching for the answers and providing continuous feedback to the broadcasters might give them food for thought.