Poland since 1989

Marek Palczeivski

What follows is a brief history of investigative journalism in Poland since 1989, with particular emphasis on the recent years. I analyse, with case studies, notorious investigations from 2017—2019; assess the condition of modern investigative journalism in Poland and discuss its future. In defining investigative journalism, I locate myself with de Burgh, Kovach and Rosenstiels analyses, which hold that several conditions must be met in order to define journalism as investigative: investigative journalism 1) must reflect original research, 2) should uncover the truth, 3) permits the use of undercover reporting techniques and 4) can include the analysis of documents to reveal something hidden (de Burgh 2000; Kovach and Rosenstiel 2001). Investigative journalism should always be in the public interest.

1. The history of investigative journalism after 1989

Investigative journalism began to develop in Poland after the change of regime from a communist to a democratic state in 1989. Previously, the media were more or less subordinated to the ruling Communist Party (PZPR). The acceleration of political transformation and the increase of media independence from political power, dating back to the first free elections in 1991, highly influenced the work of journalists (Beres 2000).

In the 1990s, there appeared the first articles that could be described as investigative journalism. They were written by journalists of Gazeta Wyborcza, Polands liberal daily newspaper. JerzyJachowicz (an article about former secret service officials were still present in the democratic structures of the new state) and Piotr Najsztub and Maciej Gorzelinski (an article about corruption in the police headquarters in Poznan), as well as Rafal Kasprow and Jacek Lyski (from the daily Zycie newspaper, articles on banking scandals and connections between Polish politicians and Russian agents).

During this early period in Poland, undercover reporting was first employed as a method of gathering information and evidence of wrongdoings in politics, health care, banking, businesses and so on. Among the most famous cases were: purchase of explosives from a terrorist group at Okycie Airport by an unnamed journalist of Super Express; sale at auction of a painting claimed to be the work of Polish painter Starowieyski (arranged by TPNand Rzeczpospolita journalists Jaroslaw Jabrzyk and Wojciech Ciesla); purchase of a fake ID card by Grzegorz Kuczek (a TVNjournalist) and its use at a bank to rent a car, sports and construction equipment or even a flat. These are just a few examples of successful undercover reporting. Other popular methods were masquerades, sting and stunt journalism, including changing the reporters identity and impersonating employees, customers or clients of various firms or institutions, that is, a report by Alicja Kos and Wojciech Ciesla titled W^dliny drugiej suriezosci (About the Meat Plant Constar in Starachourice). There were also reports by Miroslaw Majer, Mordercy Dzieci (TV Polsat); Jaroslaw Jabrzyk, Prokurator and Daniel Zielinski, Kardiochirurg (TVN), in which journalists changed their identities and prepared entrapments (sting operations) which revealed corruption and exposed a paedophile web and conspiracy against a colleague physician. In the following, I would like to recall two investigations among many.

1.1. TNT at Super Express

In early 1995, (an) anonymous Super Express (SE) reporter(s) bought six sticks of TNT (weighing 4.5 kg) from an anti-terrorist police unit at Okycie Airport. It happened during the time of wars between the mafias from Wolomin and Pruszkow, when the gangs wanted to take control of the Warsaw underworld. The atmosphere of danger was increasing. There were frequent explosions; cars were being blown up and bombs were going off in bars and homes. The reporters decided to investigate from where they could buy explosives (Super Express 1995). There were 84 attacks using explosives in Poland in 1994, some being in Warsaw. Surprisingly, they purchased them from people who claimed to be anti-terrorist police officers working at the airport. The TNT (trinitrotoluene), bought for 50m old zlotys (c.a. Ik Euros), was then locked in the editorial safe at the SE office.

This undercover operation was carried out to make people realise how easy it was to purchase such materials. SE wanted to call a press conference, but the police first entered the building and confiscated the explosives. The chief editor, Urszula Surmach-Imieninska, and the newspaper’s publisher, Grzegorz Lindenberg, were questioned by the police and later charged with possession of explosives. The journalists explained that they acted for the public good and they simply wished to disclose the source of leaking such dangerous explosives within the police. In 2004, the District Court in Warsaw and the Appellate Court shared their opinion and dismissed the case (Wprost 2004).

1.2. Anti-paedophile provocation

In 2002, TV POLSAT broadcast Miroslaw Majeran’s report Mordercy Dzieci (Murderers of Children). Together with Jacek Blaszczyk from the weekly Wprost,

Majeran organised a sting operation which led to exposing and breaking up a paedophile gang. Its members had contacts in the West and were involved in the production of child pornography. The journalists decided to disclose these activities. Jacek Blaszczyk went undercover to infiltrate the group and deceive their members into thinking that he had a client in France who was interested in the film. When the final negotiations considering the film’s production took place, the journalists provided the information to the Central Investigative Office (CBS), which joined the investigation. During an arranged meeting at a castle in Ksiqz with the boss of the gang nicknamed “Waga”, Blaszczyk was equipped with a hidden microphone. The conversation was recorded, and the police decided that they had enough evidence to prosecute. In several cities around Poland, at the same time, CBS officers proceeded to stop the gang’s other members. The paedophiles were arrested in their homes and at the castle during negotiations on the details of the criminal transaction (Palczewski 2008).

2. The changing picture of investigative reporting in the 21st century

Between 2002 and 2008 there were great developments. At that time, many articles and investigative reports were written, the most famous of which were: Skin Hunters in 2002 by Tomasz Patora, Marcin Stelmasiak (Gazeta Wyborcza) and Przemyslaw Wojciechowski (Radio Lodz) about paramedics and physicians from the Polish city of Lodz. These workers were convicted of murdering at least five elderly patients and later selling the information about their deaths to competing funeral homes. The perpetrators were arrested in 2002. The next ones were the report Mafia Fuel in 2004 by Witold Gad-owski and Przemyslaw Wojciechowski (Superwizjer TVN) describing the Polish mafia and illegal trade in oil, gas and petrol, and Work for Sex in 2006 by Marcin Kqcki (Gazeta Wyborcza) about sexual services provided to the leading politicians of the Self-Defense Party by the female employees of this party. A huge controversy was sparked when secret tapes were disclosed by two journalists from TVN - a commercial TV station. On 26 September in 2006, in a TVN programme conducted by Tomasz Sekielski and Andrzej Morozowski, TERAZ MY, fragments of conversations between Renata Beger (a member of the Self-Defense Party, Polish Samoobrona) and Adam Lipinski (the Law & Justice Party; Polish PiS), recorded by Beger using a hidden camera in her flat in the Sejm hotel, were broadcast. The talks took place after Andrzej Lepper’s dismissal (he was earlier a vice-minister of the Polish government), when the future of the coalition was being decided. PiS wanted to get some S-DP deputies’ support and have them switch parties so that they could form the government without S-DP. The taped conversations showed — just as TRlVjournalists had planned - proof of political corruption (TERAZ MY 2006).

The tape scandal had an essential influence on what happened on the Polish political scene. As a result, Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s government resigned a year later. The disclosure of the tapes’ content sparked a heated discussion in the media and social debate regarding ethical standards in politics and journalism. It should be noted, though, that the recorded politicians (Lipinski and Mojzeso-wicz) did not sue the journalists. But ethical dilemmas still remain. Journalists need to be independent of external influences (politicians, authorities, media companies, sources of information, etc.) and internal ones (journalists’ subjective opinions and prejudices). Did the journalists act independently in this case? There is no certainty.

In the first decade of the 21st century, investigative journalists often worked in teams (e.g., Gazeta Wyborcza, Dziennik, Rzeczpospolita or Superwizjer TVN); they dealt with corrupt politicians, businessmen, judges, prosecutors and health care. Journalistic teams organised entrapments and sting operations and practiced investigative reporting to reveal abuses of power, financial misappropriation or fraud (for instance, those of Andrzej Stankiewicz and Malgorzata Solecka, Anna Marszalek, Bertold Kittel and Wojciech Ciesla from Rzeczpospolita and Ada Wons and Jaroslaw Jabrzyk from TVN). Their activities led to the arrest of the bribed prosecutors, disclosure of a case in a meat factory where old meat was being “refreshed” and uncovering of the existence of incompetent ‘experts’ in the art market.

3. Revival of investigative journalism? The last decade (2010-2019)

Stagnation in Polish investigative journalism after 2008 had various causes. Among others were media involvement in relations with politicians, the economic crisis, restrictions on the financing of “investigatory” projects, problems of a legal nature (judicial processes against investigative journalists), selfcensorship, tabloidisation of media messages and declining interest in this type of journalism. The renaissance of investigative journalism in Poland, however incomplete, took place about 2016. Earlier, especially during the second period of governance (2011—2015) by the coalition of the Civic Platform (PO) and the Polish People’s Party (PSL), investigative journalism was in crisis. Antigovernment scandals revealed at that time (conversations between politicians on civic platforms recorded by hidden microphones in The Sowa & Przy-jaciele Restaurant) had nothing to do with investigative journalism but were primarily the result of games of the secret service related to the opposition, using journalists for their purposes. The leaked scandals (Gambling Scandal, Tape Scandal) were used by the opposition in the political fray. At that time, high-quality journalism, independent of political powers, was sustained among journalists like Tomasz Patora from TPTV, who revealed the so-called Salt Scandal (contaminated salt was being sold as edible), Cezary Lazarewicz (Newsweek Polska), Piotr Pytlakowski (Polityka), Ewa Ornacka, Krzysztof M. Kazmierczak and Piotr Talaga (G/os Wielkopolski), whose journalistic books addressed matters related to the communist past of the country; the fights inside the Mafia or the death of one of the first Polish investigative journalists Jaroslaw Ziytara, who was murdered (in 1991), probably by the Mafia. In turn, Justyna Kopihska (Gazeta Wyborcza) described the problem of sexual harassment, mobbing and rape of women in the Polish Army (see Popielec 2018).

The most outstanding examples of investigative journalism were recognised in the Grand Press Competition organised by PRESS magazine and the Polish Journalists Association (SDP). In 2016, the Grand Press Award went to Iwona Szpala and Malgorzata Zubik for the article titled To Whom the Plot (Gazeta Wyborcza), in which they described the abuses and “scams” during the pathological re-privatisation of buildings and plots in Warsaw. In 2017, the award for the report Death at the Police Station was given to Wojciech Bojanowski (Superwizjer TVN), who discovered the truth about the death of 25-year-old Igor Stachowicz, killed by policemen at the police station in Wroclaw. In 2018, the prize in the category of investigative journalism was awarded to Bertold Kittel, together with Anna Sobolewska and Piotr Wacowski (Superwizjer TVN), for the TV report Polish Neo-Nazis (see the following).

The newest period of investigative journalism seems to announce the return of a better climate for this type of journalism in Poland, although financial resources are still lacking. In this context, it is worth noting that the Sekielski brothers (Tomasz and Marek) made a film about paedophilia in the Catholic Church in Poland, Tell No One, using resources raised on a crowdfunding platform only. The reception of this documentary by public opinion and further interest in its sequel can herald mental as well as organisational and technological transformations (the film was first made available on YouTube) in how investigative journalism pieces will emerge and be disseminated in Poland. The last three aforementioned reports will be analysed in this article as case studies in terms of their history, political and media contexts and social implications.

3.1. Death at the Police Station

Wojciech Bojanowski, a reporter at the TVN station since 2007, was awarded the title of Journalist of the Year 2017 in Poland in the Grand Press Competition for his investigative report Death at the Police Station. Bojanowski is a young reporter with long work experience. He specialises in reporting on criminal and wartime topics. For a few years now, he has been working for Superwizjer, a weekly investigative program broadcast on TVN since 2001, and which, so far, has been awarded 12 Grand Press awards. In 2014, Bojanowski reported on the civil war in Donbas and another about drug gangs; in 2016, about the dramatic efforts of immigrants who wanted to get to Great Britain through La Manche channel in Calais.

His report, Death at the Police Station, for Supenvizjer TVN describes tragic events at the Stare Miasto police station in Wroclaw (Bojanowski 2017).

On 15 May 2016, after 6 a.m., at the Market Square in Wroclaw, 25-year-old Igor Stachowiak is arrested. He has just left a pub. He looks like 22-year-old Mariusz Frontczak, wanted for drug dealing, who escaped the police 2 days before. Now, when the police officers see Stachowiak at the Market Square, they take him for Frontczak. The report shows these places and the whole event from the recordings of city monitoring and three random witnesses’ mobile footage. We can see two police cars arrive. Four policemen wrestle with Stachowiak; they handcuff' him, and one of the policemen tases Igor on his back with Taser X2. Two of the witnesses recording the incident are later detained by the police and taken to the police station where Stachowiak is held. This is where the drama will take place.

The further course of action was made public due to the journalistic investigation carried out in 2017 by Wojciech Bojanowski. He reached the witnesses, got documents hidden from the public and used anonymous sources of information. Thanks to his work, everyone found out about the circumstances of Stachowiak’s death. Before it happened, the policemen beat one of the witnesses in the washroom. Next, they escorted Stachowiak to the washroom. There — as recorded on the taser - they tasered him three times with 5-second impulses of 1200 volts. He breathed heavily and died of cardiopulmonary insufficiency. The photos taken by Maciej Stachowiak, the father of the victim, showed facial and neck injuries. Although the police station was equipped with a monitoring system, none of the cameras recorded the described events. According to forensic experts, the death resulted from three factors: the victim’s substantial drug and legal high intake, being paralysed by taser a few times and hard neck pressure (Bojanowski 2017).

The investigation in this case was run by the district prosecutor’s office in Poznan. Prior to the broadcast of the report, no charges had been pressed. The prosecution’s investigation did not manage to explain why Stachowiak had been searched in the washroom. It was Bojanowski’s report that stopped this case from being swept under the rug; the journalist showed that the police officers overstepped their powers and wanted to cover their tracks, and the use of taser against a handcuffed person was unlawful. The law enforcement representatives, obligated to act lawfully, violated it themselves.

The case didn’t move on until after the broadcast of the report. If it hadn’t been for the media, no one would probably have been sentenced for the death of an innocent man. In the resulting trial, the police officers who contributed to Stachowiak’s death were sentenced to 2 and 2.5 years in prison. The sentence was set on 21 June 2019, over 2 years after Igor Stachowiak’s death. His father, Maciej Stachowiak, said that “it was the first step to punish the guilty”. He was not satisfied with it. however; he said, “the police hadn’t even apologized” (TVN24.pl 2019).

3.2. Polish Neo-Nazis

Gazeta Wyborcza has been tracking neo-Fascist and neo-Nazi groups in Poland for many years; Jacek Harlukowicz writes about the world of fascist bands and calls Lower Silesia a hub of neo-Nazism. This is where they organise concerts of groups whose participants greet one another with the Nazi ‘Sieg Heil’. This is also where Polish neo-Nazis meet with those from German lands, from Saxony and Brandenburg.

Superwizjer reporters who learned about those concerts decided to investigate the activity of such groups. They managed to infiltrate the circle of Polish neo-Nazis. Seventy years after World War II, in which Poland suffered so terribly, there are people who worship Adolf Hitler and build altars to celebrate his birthday. In Poland, organisations, associations and behaviours glorifying Fascism, Nazism and Communism are prohibited in law. The report took months to prepare, and its publication was delayed to boost its reception with new facts. Bertold Kittel, Anna Sobolewska and Piotr Wacowski, acting undercover, showed the alternative world of the Polish neo-Nazis who publicly organise political happenings, music festivals and ceremonies dedicated to the memory of Hitler (Kittel, Sobolewska and Wacowski 2018).

The report Polish Neo-Nazis, was broadcast on TVN on 20 January 2018. In the foreground, in one of the scenes, the report showed swastika flags and a shrine in memory of Hitler. Some of the participants of the event wore WW2 German uniforms. The reporters were criticised for provoking the neo-Nazis and for encouraging the participants to utter pro-Hitler declarations. As a result, the prosecution charged Piotr Wacowski, a TVN cameraman, with propagating Nazism. The case never came to court (Newsweek 2019).

In November 2018, the portal wpolityce.pl and a weekly associated with it, wSieci, wrote that the Superwizjer’s report could have been a ‘set-up’ for which the organiser of‘Hitler’s birthday’was paid 20k PLN (Biedron 2018).

The editorial office of Superwizjer categorically denied these suggestions and called them innuendos (TVN24.pl 2018/3). Mateusz S., the organiser of the event, talked about the alleged set-up. He testified that he had received 20k PLN in a carrier bag when he was collecting his son from kindergarten. The prosecutor’s inquiry in this case is still on. There has also been a thread interpreting the TV camera operator’s Nazi salute during the party' as unlawful.

In this case, the prosecutor initiated and discontinued the proceedings. The division in the journalistic environment, however, became clear: the journalists opposing the ruling party supported their colleagues from TVN, and the progovernment ones discredited and disregarded their achievements. They tried to show that all this ‘masquerade’ involved just a tiny minority of people and that Nazism in Poland is marginal.

After the broadcast of the report, there has been some backlash from the secret services and the judiciary. The activity of “Pride and Modernity” and other fascist groups has been branded by the prime minister and the minister of justice. Steps have been taken to outlaw it. The chief prosecutor and the minister of justice, Zbigniew Ziobro, initiated an investigation into “Pride and Modernity”. Upon the broadcast of the report, the governor of Wodzilaw Slqski submitted a claim to dissolve “Pride and Modernity”. The claim was supported by the prosecutors office in Gliwice. The association was outlawed by court in August 2019 (TVN24.pl 2018/1).

There were also punishments for the participants of the ‘birthday’ party. Adam B. was fined 13k PLN (about 3k euro). He was found guilty of public propagation of fascism and illegal gun possession. The other suspects were charged with propagation of a Nazi system. The police found in their homes, among other things, uniforms, badges and publications glorifying Nazism (TVN24.pl 2018/2)

The reporters’work was appreciated by the main Polish journalistic competitions. For their report about the neo-Nazis, Bertold Kittel, Anna Sobolewska and Piotr Wacowski were awarded Radio ZET s Andrzej Wojciechowski Award and the Grand Press Award for investigative journalism, and Bertold Kittel won the Journalist of the Year 2018 Award.

3.3. Tell No One

On 11 May 2019, Marek and Tomasz Sekielski broadcast on YouTube their film about cases of paedophilia in the Polish Catholic Church. It was an independent production financed through crowdfunding. Tomasz Sekielski, one of the document’s authors, has been an investigative journalist working for years for TVP and TVN. The program which he realised together with Andrzej Morozowski in 2006, TERAZ MY on TVN, in which they revealed secret talks between the politicians of the Law and Justice Party and those from the Self-Defense Party, led to the outbreak of the so-called Tape Scandal of Renata Beger, which resulted in the resignation of Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s government in 2007.

The documentary Tell No One places emphasis on hiding paedophilia among the clergy by Church hierarchs. Murky scenes from the victims’stories contrast with the complacency of their oppressors and the reaction of Polish Episcopacy representatives, who didn’t want to speak before the camera or claimed that the problem was being effectively fought within Church structure itself. The film presents both old and new cases. The victims’ accounts abound with various instances of sexual harassment of boys and girls and their families’ lack of interest in their children’s stories about the priests’ misdeeds. Already adult, the women and men, with tears in their eyes or simply crying, describe drastic scenes of rape and sexual harassment (Sekielski 2019).

The film, which was originally broadcast only on YouTube, had over one million views within the first 5 hours, which was an audience record in Poland (at the end of November 2019, it had over 23 million views on

YouTube). The film was later published by the Wirtualna Polska portal and its associated TV channel and by a private station, TVN. TVP, a public television station, decided not to show the film, and in its flagship information program, Wiadomosci (The News), criticised both the content of the film and its authors, accusing them of lack of objectivity' and launching an attack on the Catholic Church. Some Law and Justice politicians claimed that the issue was fabricated and its main purpose was to provoke (Rzeczpospolita 2019).

After the broadcast, moved by' what they had seen, Polish prelates published a statement, and Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz apologised for not having appeared in it (Onet.pl 2019/2). However, there were different reactions within the church hierarchy; some of them talked about an attack on the Church or even “a paedophilia industry”; others treated it as an expression of concern. One of the violators, priest Dariusz Olejniczak, after the broadcast of the film, asked Pope Francis that he be relegated to the secular state.

According to some commentators, the film didn’t show what is hidden in Church, that is, ‘homo-lobby’ activity, the molesting of clerical students and young priests by' their supervisors. Priest Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski, known for his controversial public appearances, pointed at some scandals connected with this issue, among other things the case of Archbishop Juliusz Paetz, who was accused of molesting clerical students from Poznan. There are also cases of priests cooperating with the communist secret services (SB), which have not been completed (PCh24.pl 2019).

In March 2019, the Episcopacy presented data concerning child sexual abuse in the Church. In the period of 1990—2018, the total number of victims of paedophilic priests was 625. Eighty-five priests out of the accused 168 have been charged in trials. Only 68 priests have been expelled from the priesthood (Kalisz 2019). In October 2019, the Court of Appeal in Gdansk sentenced priest Andrzej S. — one of the infamous characters in the film - to apologise to his victim and pay him 400k PLN in compensation (archive.today 2019). The National Public Prosecutor’s Office announced that it had set up a special team to investigate the cases covered in the film, and the politicians from the main parties promised more severe punishments for paedophilia (Onet.pl 2019/1).

On 15 May 2019, Press Club Polska awarded the Sekielski Brothers a Special Award for “making a documentary about one of the most appalling phenomena, which is paedophilia of the clergymen. It is the expression of gratitude towards the authors, who reminded us that the role of a journalist is to stand on the side of truth” (Wprost 2019). The film by the Sekielski brothers was also awarded a Radio ZET award and GRAND PRIX from the City of Lodz, as well as the White Cobra Statue at the festival Czlowiek w Zagrozeniu 2019 for their “courage to stand against evil”. In December 2019, they received the 1st Grand Press prize in the category' TV/Video Reportage, and Tomasz Sekielski won the title of Journalist of the Year 2019. The Sekielski Brothers are planning to make another film about paedophilia in the Church.


The aforementioned cases point to the diversity of the investigative methods used (reporting techniques). Death at the Police Station is an attempt to reconstruct the events and a journalistic investigation held after the proper one had failed. The reporter plays the part of a detective and investigator trying to explain the causes of death of Igor Stachowiak. Bojanowski’s report illustrates archetypes of investigative journalism: a socially significant topic of the abuse of power, a figure of an innocent and helpless victim and a violent authority who is callous and unfeeling towards their fate, covering up the case and stalling the investigation. It also draws attention to the so-called whistleblowers (anonymous informers and witnesses), whose testimony contributes to publicising the story and informing the public opinion about the true course of action. Bojanowski uses their recordings and testimony in his report, thus revealing what was supposed to stay hidden from the public. The results of the report should not be evaluated just by the court sentences (relatively low according to public opinion), but the wider, prospective consequences should be considered: the police in Poland may not act with impunity, for their actions are monitored by the Fourth Estate, and what was supposed to stay hidden was revealed thanks to the work of investigative journalists.

Another of the discussed reports is a typical example of undercover reporting. The use of methods from the area of investigative journalism makes it similar to American ‘masquerades’, in which journalists play different roles — change their identities — in order to find out about wrongdoings, shortcomings or infringement of law. That was the case of the Mirage Tavern - a famous action of Chicago Sun Times reporters comprehensively described in the subject literature. However, whereas Pamela Zekman and other reporters from the Chicago newspaper thoroughly planned, prepared and carried out their sting operation, the TVN reporters were, in this case, participants and not the organisers of the masquerade. Despite that, some reporters decided to carry out a journalistic investigation’ directed against the TVN reporters. The TVN reporters did their best to obtain the most extensive material illustrating the existence of neo-Nazi groups and associations in Poland, so their use of undercover techniques (masquerade, hidden camera, hidden microphone) was a last resort; otherwise, they would not have found such evidence. Reproaching them for that does not show the journalists’ exceptional ethical sensitivity but rather some journalists’ lack of understanding of the essence of investigative journalism.

The last case — the documentary by Marek and Tomasz Sekielski — is an example of reliable investigative journalism. It was the result of original work by the reporters, who managed to get to the source of information on their own, found open and anonymous informers and tackled an important social and moral problem which was supposed to stay hidden, and many people did not want it to see the light of day. Perhaps the results of the reporters’ investigation were not sensational, for they revealed only a few cases of paedophilia in Catholic Church in Poland; however, the film triggered an extensive debate on the topic which, before then, had been taboo. They also forced an official acknowledgement from church authorities stating that paedophilia is a problem for this institution. Thereby, Tell No One not only fitted into the discourse concerning paedophilia among Polish priests, but also, in some aspects (concerning Poland), it was a continuation of the investigation carried out in the USA by an investigative team of the American Boston Globe in the years 2001—2003. In 2003, as part of a court settlement, the Boston Archdiocese paid a total of 85 million dollars compensation to 522 victims of sexual harassment (Gostkiewicz 2017).

All three cases of investigative journalism revealed a discursive ‘grey area’- an area of silence which was supposed to stay that way: violence in a place which should symbolise opposition to violence, a return to historical narration with which the Polish State is fighting, sexual abuse in an institution which should set a moral example. The truth about these phenomena revealed by the reporters sparked a debate, whose effects remain open.


Investigative journalism was relatively stagnant between 2008 and 2014. The reasons were, inter alia, legal restrictions, financial shortcomings, tabloidisation, decline in newspaper readers and limitations in access to information. Despite the restraints, since 2014 there has been an increase in valuable publications. Recently, there has been a return to crime and economics, although more and more involve political scandals and moral issues. The three case studies analysed previously show the versatility of Polish investigative journalists. There were 57 investigative reports entered for the 2019 Grand Press Competition. The entries covered the corruption of authority, a paedophile scandal with a famous musician in the main part and murky political business. Investigative journalism in Poland, after years of relative stagnation, has reminded us of its existence once more.


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