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.