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Polish Media System in a Comparative Perspective

Media in Politics, Politics in Media


Bogusława Dobek-Ostrowska

A media system does not exist in a vacuum. It develops and grows within social, political and economic systems. They interact with and influence one another, as well as stimulate each other’s development. The main subject of this work is the dynamically evolving Polish media system, which is under the influence of institutions and external stakeholders. Thanks to this, it is easier to understand that the "crossroads" is not only a problem of the Polish media system, but a global one. For this reason, a comparative perspective is employed. Three chapters help to provide an answer to research questions dedicated to political parallelism and journalistic professionalization. The analysis would be limited and unrepresentative if the book enclosed it with one country's border, omitting the broad global, European and Centro-European context.

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Conclusion: The Polish media system on the map of Europe


The main aim of this analysis is to explain how the political context determines the development and structure of the media system in Poland. Undoubtedly, the relationships between, on the one hand, political actors, i.e., politicians and political parties, and on the other the mass media, i.e., the media ownership and journalists, are crucial. Other elements of the media system context are secondary to this study (see Fig. I.1).

The media system is one of the most dynamic elements of the social system. It is constantly transforming, mainly due to rapidly-developing communication technology. Less than a decade ago, the traditional media dominated the process of political communication. At present, their position has been considerably limited by online issues and social media, which in the hands of politicians, journalists (professional users), and citizens (non-professional users), have gained a new meaning and have left a mark on the nature of their mutual relationships (Davis, Holtz-Bacha and Just, 2017; Nożewski, 2018).

These transformations are global in nature, but in Poland, as well as in the whole of Central and Eastern Europe, it coincided with deep political and economic reforms and social changes. At the beginning of the transformation in the 1990s, it seemed that the media systems in this part of Europe, which has just entered the path to democracy, would evolve toward the Polarized Pluralism Model (Dobek-Ostrowska, 2012, 2015a, 2015c, 2018), with strong state control and far-reaching politicization of the media. Now, after thirty years...

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