Gazeta Wyborcza and the Gazeta Wyborcza Foundation in Poland have been awarded The 2022 Golden Pen of Freedom, an annual press freedom award of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).
The award recognises “a news organisation that stands as a beacon of independence and as a bulwark against authoritarianism; a paper of record that demonstrates its values daily, across its pages, through support to young journalists, in the promotion of local news, and through work across borders in solidarity with colleagues in need.”
“Facing down numerous challenges to deliver independent journalism and reliable coverage, Gazeta Wyborcza established the Gazeta Wyborcza Foundation in 2019 to safeguard the publication’s future and strengthen quality journalism in Poland. Its projects have denounced neo-fascist organisations, fought disinformation, polarisation, and xenophobia, and supported local and regional media to produce investigative journalism”, WAN-IFRA says.
“Over the past year, the Foundation has been coordinating critical financial and technical support to Ukrainian colleagues from across Europe following the Russian invasion. “
“The deteriorating condition of Polish democracy means that civic engagement is needed now more than ever,” said Joanna Krawczyk, Head of Partnerships at Gazeta Wyborcza and President of the Board of the Gazeta Wyborcza Foundation, accepting the award on behalf of the Foundation.
“The events of recent months and years have shown with full force the scale of the challenges facing our democracies.”
Accepting the award on behalf of the Gazeta Wyborcza newsroom, Piotr Stasiński, former deputy Editor-in-Chief and current Special Media Advisor to Gazeta Wyborcza Foundation, said:
“Under PiS rule, media freedom in Poland has been seriously infringed. Already, we see a growing ‘chilling effect’ and a decreasing number of media outlets that are free and independent. Developments in Poland are in line with how Hungarian independent media were suppressed by Viktor Orban’s government. Hungary, like Poland, is an EU member.”
The newspaper was first published on 8 May 1989, under the motto “There is no freedom without Solidarity,” Trade union Solidarity was founded in 1980. Its leader Lech Walesa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983. Solidarity was central in ending the communist rule in Poland. Gazeta Wyborcza became the first legal publication that was outside of government control.
The award was announced at WAN-IFRA’s World News Media Congress in Zaragoza, Spain.