International TV coverage of the Krakow funerals

Decoy sensibly spent Sunday in front of the box.

With seemingly non-stop coverage of the crash on the Polish news channels for all of last week, and the mourning and initial investigations, I thought I would take a look at the international coverage of the funeral itself to get an ‘outside’ perspective.
For most of the last week, the crash had been in the top two or three news stories on many international news channels, and until Thursday had been the number one story. However, as the output of the Icelandic volcano loomed ever larger, it began to push Poland off the top spot. With the memorial service on Saturday in Plac Pilsudski in Warsaw and the funeral on Sunday, the news stations picked up Poland’s week of national mourning once again.

As could be expected with a story of such magnitude, news channels from all over Europe (and beyond) had regular reports. For example, BVN from the Netherlands had reporters in Kraków’s Rynek, giving a 3-4 minute report with mentions of Katyń, President Kaczyński’s part in Solidarność and the Wawel ‘row’. Channels such as France24, DW-TV (Germany) and Viesti (Russia) also had news reports on the funeral, in most cases mentioning which dignitaries from their country/region were (generally) not able to attend. Euronews showed an interview with Michał Karnowski, who was the biographer of both of the Kaczyński twins. He was questioned about the potential legacy of Lech Kaczyński and he also proclaimed his surprise about the unity in Poland’s mourning, he seemed to have expected more indifference, due to President Kaczyński’s low popularity ratings before his death.

However, what was interesting to note in the TV coverage from an international point of view, were the number of foreign stations that gave full coverage (and some analysis) of the funeral. Euronews allowed full coverage of the ceremony, but with no commentary at any stage, while CNN also gave Poland special attention with a banner saying ‘Poland mourns’ and comment on what was taking place with the full ceremony being shown live.

BBC World News had given extensive coverage to the crash since news of it broke last Saturday, and Poland featured in their reporting all week long. With the memorial in Warsaw yesterday, they covered every minute as the names of each of the dead was called, and applied comment from people such as Anne Applebaum, the American writer married to Radoslaw Sikorski. They also spoke to their Polish correspondent Jan Repa, who emphasised the Katyń memorial aspect once again. For the funeral today, they gave full coverage once more, and even broke to London for 10 minutes where a large screen was set up in Trafalgar Square for the Polish community there to watch. An interview was conducted as well with David Miliband, the British Foreign Minister. His mother was born in Poland, so naturally he expressed his sympathy, both on an individual and professional basis.

Finally, in the spirit of the improved relations between Russia and Poland, special mention should probably go to Russia Today, the English-language, Russia-focussed news channel. They also covered the full extent of the funeral also—probably unthinkable a few years ago. The Russian effort to be involved in the funeral was also noted by many channels including Poland’s TVN24, especially how President Medvedev was allowed the seat closest to the altar from all other foreign visitors.

The world recognised Poland’s pain and loss and sympathised as well.

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9 thoughts on “International TV coverage of the Krakow funerals

  1. scatts says:

    So, apart from Miliband taking a moment away from his cornflakes, was there ANYONE representing the UK actually at the funeral service?

    You say “full extent” but on the few occasions I switched over to BBC World, CNN and EuroNews they were not showing it at all. Maybe I just picked the wrong moments?

  2. newsaddict says:

    Has anyone noticed that the divide between those who did and did not attend the funeral is almost the same as a line betwen ¨Old¨ Europe and ¨New¨ Europe. Is there anything a conspiracy theorist, or just concerned observer, could read into this?

    Did the west (ie the US, but especially France, the UK and Germany) not think it worthwhile to make a reall effort to find alternative forms of transport? OK, the US, China and South Korea can be excused, but what of the others?

    Can Prince Charles, Sakrozy or Merkel not jump into their official cars and drive across the continent (as some Central European presidents, and the Polish president of the European Parliament did)? is such a drive too long for the West Europeans? Can their staffs not cope with such unprecented logistics at short notice. Surely such a drive cannot be discounted on security grounds. Are their shiny official cars not insured for use abroad?

    Perhaps they could have organised a special train, stopping in Londonk Paris, Berlin etc, picking up presidents. The Trans-European presidential express! Showing solidarity to Poland!

    I really am surprised at the lack of criticism in the press at their non-attendence, especially of Merkel, who lives just over the border.

  3. Basia z Szwecji says:

    A summary from Sweden here then.

    I am a little surprised that the news coverage has not been even larger here, since Poland is a neghbour just acrsoss the Baltic sea to Sweden. Today it’s even a little difficult to any information on the funeral. Nevertheless, at the Swedish teveisions (SVT) news site there are 19 articles covering the accident, and it has been discussed in the morning news programmes.

    Right after the accident the main focus was howcome so many “important” people were allowed on the same plane. As the week continued there was a little more background on Katyn and on the President. The fact why the Polish people seem to unite around the tragedy in the way they did/do also needed explaining in media here. The debate over Wawel was also covered, including the fact that Sigismund Vasa (who was also king of Sweden) is buried there. The information that our king Carl Gustav could not attend the funeral, nor Obama and many others, was of course one of the most important news at the end of the week. Vaclav Klaus criticism of that so few EU dignitaries attended was also mentioned.

  4. Basia z Szwecji says:

    I agrre they/we should have tried more. However, I do understand that it is has been a difficult situation. I read somewhere about Merkels travelling, and it did seem very hard to manage a visit to Poland. Obama was waiting until the last minute before deciding that the plane would not be able to getthrough safely. So I actually think that there was a wish to attend the funeral.

  5. Scatts: I wouldn’t be surprised if the UK’s Ambassador was there – we saw a number of people in fez hats(!) but with absolutely no mention of them. We were sure these were ambassadors from Turkey or elsewhere but not important enough to single out and mention.

    The BBC definitely gave considerable coverage. We also saw ~90 minutes of coverage from CNN.

    Personally, I liked BBC’s interviewing and commenting on other people’s perspective. This is what I was most interested in – not the funeral itself but what people thought of it and/or how they were reacting to it.

  6. tee says:

    Angela Merkel was unable to attend, because she had difficulties to reach her own country. But the president of Germany WAS attending the ceremony.

    I can’t say I believe in God, not how He’s in the Bible or else, but if there was any better way to show some Polish circle’s pettiness through divine intervention it was this ash could.

    It doesn’t matter that they had declared their will to come, despite calendars being planned months or perhaps even years ahead. It doesn’t matter how many extraordinary gestures we got in the last week. We only focus on the fact that they didn’t dare to risk their life to give Poland its 5 minutes. Just how more sad can this be?:(

  7. Hello.

    Our Television covered this sad event. Since the accident [that, as for me, Russia had nothing to do with] Ukraine’s Media has featured all aspects of this whole thing, even today, more foto’s of yesterday in our newspapers, more images on our Television sets and more speak about yesterday on our Radio’s, as is correct as for me.

    Our President yesterday gave strong threat to volcano ash to “get out” from near his Presidential jet, it so afraid him [as are many of us] that it blew 85 kilometers to the West immediately, and he touched down in Krakow yesterday wondering what all commotion about ash cloud is about !

    I hope our friend and neighbour Poland recovers soon, and recovers strong from this terrible thing that has happened to it.


    Rivne – UKR.

  8. Decoy says:

    I suppose I can qualify my comment on ‘full coverage’ somewhat. The channels mentioned that did give extended coverage did so for the funeral ceremony itself, but many switched away once the procession down the Royal Way/ul. Grodzka began.

    I even spoke to my parents in Ireland yesterday evening and they reported that they had watched all of the church ceremony on Euronews. When they ‘cut away’ from coverage seemed to vary from station to station, but it seemed impressive enough for many stations to cover the whole ceremony in Mariacka as it was.

  9. guest says:

    “fez hats” was the prime minister of morocco and his delegation.

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