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TOP-LEVEL CONFERENCE

Safeguarding Media Freedom in Poland Through Self-Regulation

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Mehrere Menschen sitzen nebeneinander auf einer Bühne. © TU Dort­mund
Professor Susanne Fengler, Director of the Erich Brost Institute (EBI, 3rd from the right) of TU Dort­mund University, attracted high-ranking experts for the con­fe­rence in Warsaw.

On 25 September, the Erich Brost Institute (EBI) for International Journalism of TU Dort­mund University staged a top-level con­fe­rence in Warsaw on the critical situation of the media in Poland. It was funded by the ZEIT Foundation. Professor Susanne Fengler, Director of the Erich Brost Institute, succeeded in attracting representatives of leading Polish media, universities, journalists’ associations and institutions in the field of media policy, parliamentarians and in­ter­na­tio­nal speakers – among other from the European Council – for the con­fe­rence. Together they discussed the question: How can journalists and editors in Poland protect themselves effectively against growing political pressure?

Across Europe, developments in Poland are currently being watched with deep concern. One of the key issues is the question of media freedom in view of the growing political pressure exerted on journalism by the PiS govern­ment. Is Poland in danger of experiencing a situation like in neighboring Hungary?

Already some time ago, the PiS govern­ment took control of public broadcasting. In the Polish election campaign, it made the “re-polonization” of the media a subject of discussion – foreign, especially German, media investors in the country are a thorn in the govern­ment’s side. And for some time now the setting up of a “media council” has been under debate, which could also exercise considerable influence over private newspapers and broadcasting companies so far independent.

Participants argued for an independent press council

The situation in Poland is extremely complex because supporters and critics of the ruling party find themselves eyeball to eyeball in journalism too: “What we’re experiencing here is a veritable ‘tribalization’ of the media in Poland,” says Professor Boguslawa Dobek-Ostrowska from the University of Wroclaw, a leading Polish expert in media studies, and Dr. Michal Glowacki from the University of Warsaw. The two universities co-or­ga­nized the debate, and the EBI has worked closely with both researchers for many years.

The con­fe­rence delegates were unanimous in advocating the establishment of an independent press council as a self-regulatory body in journalism – even if the rifts between the various camps in Polish journalism are deep. “The model of the press council in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina shows how self-regulation can also function despite major political tensions among journalists in a country too,” says Isabella Kurkowski, in­ter­na­tio­nal media expert and research associate at the EBI. The next concrete step planned at the con­fe­rence was therefore a “roundtable” to bring together media representatives and in­ter­na­tio­nal experts.

More and more governments are restricting the freedom of the press

“Our global studies on media accountability currently show that more and more governments are restricting media freedom – this is how ‘media councils’ are set up, which are, however, intended only to camouflage restrictions,” summarizes Professor Fengler. “We not only want to gain new scientific insights through our in­ter­na­tio­nal activities but also to campaign in practice for media freedom – especially in neighboring Poland.”

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Location & approach

The campus of TU Dort­mund University is located close to interstate junction Dort­mund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dort­mund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is "Dort­mund-Eichlinghofen" (closer to Campus Süd), and from B 1 / A 40 "Dort­mund-Dorstfeld" (closer to Campus Nord). Signs for the uni­ver­si­ty are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dort­mund.

To get from Campus Nord to Campus Süd by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at Campus Nord and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.

TU Dort­mund University has its own train station ("Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät"). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dort­mund main station ("Dort­mund Hauptbahnhof") and Düsseldorf main station via the "Düsseldorf Airport Train Station" (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 20 or 30 minutes). The uni­ver­si­ty is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.

You can also take the bus or subway train from Dort­mund city to the uni­ver­si­ty: From Dort­mund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station "Stadtgarten", usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At "Stadtgarten" you switch trains and get on line U42 towards "Hombruch". Look out for the Station "An der Palmweide". From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dort­mund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dort­mund main station to the stop "Dort­mund Kampstraße". From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop "Dort­mund Wittener Straße". Switch to bus line 447 and get off at "Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S".

The AirportExpress is a fast and convenient means of transport from Dort­mund Airport (DTM) to Dort­mund Central Station, taking you there in little more than 20 minutes. From Dort­mund Central Station, you can continue to the uni­ver­si­ty campus by interurban railway (S-Bahn). A larger range of in­ter­na­tio­nal flight connections is offered at Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), which is about 60 kilometres away and can be directly reached by S-Bahn from the uni­ver­si­ty station.

The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dort­mund University. There are two stations on Campus Nord. One ("Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S") is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the uni­ver­si­ty directly with the city of Dort­mund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the "Technologiepark" and (via Campus Süd) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at Campus Nord and offers a direct connection to Campus Süd every five minutes.

The facilities of TU Dort­mund University are spread over two campuses, the larger Campus North and the smaller Campus South. Additionally, some areas of the uni­ver­si­ty are located in the adjacent "Technologiepark".

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