Tag Archives: coverage

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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‘Eye On Poland’: all this week on CNN

CNN decided to dedicate a week of coverage to Poland, which according to the network is “one of the fastest developing nations, with a proud history and a promising future”.

The Network’s daily schedule is scattered with live broadcasts from Warsaw, where Fionnuala Sweeney reads news from some cool places: the Chopin monument, the Palace of Culture, and Solidarity Avenue. These will be accompanied by reports on various issues connected with Poland. With each day dedicated to a specific core issue:

Oct. 6 – Poland: A New Era Begins: On Monday we will find out why CNN thinks Poland is becoming more strategically important on the global stage.
Oct. 7 –
Poland: Booming Business:
On Tuesday CNN took a look at Polish business as the zloty strengthens against the dollar, and sought answers to how Poland has brought about this changing business dynamic. There will also be a report on Poland’s real estate market, which CNN says is “ninth in the world”.
Oct. 8 –
Poland: Strategic Ties:
On Wednesday the network will research Poland’s international allegiances, standing and strategy for the future.
Oct. 9 – Poland: Springs to Life:
On Thursday CNN will seek out what defines Poland culturally (sounds promising this one).
Oct. 10 – Poland by the Poles: ON Friday CNN will talk to the people in Poland and find out what they think.
Oct. 11-12:
On Saturday and Sunday the week will be rounded up in a half-hour special “Eye on Poland: Country at the Crossroads.”

Also some current events are being given an extra “Polish” flavour. For instance when I tuned to CNN today, the increasing recession in the United Kingdom was the theme, and was pictured with stories of Poles, who were recently relocating to the British Isles in large numbers. Now some of them are thinking of returning.

Details about the programming and videos are available on the CNN website http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2008/news/eye.on.poland/

CNN seems to be well prepared for the job, and to have done some thorough research. I think, as a Polish person, what I have seen up to now is the most accurate representation of Poland and the Polish out of everything that I have seen in the Old EU and US media. It shows Poland similarly to how I see it living here. The people CNN talks to are people I could know. Like these:

Comparing ‘Eye On Poland’ to the BBC’s Michael Palin’s series ‘New Europe’, I think CNN has done a much better job. CNN concentrates on urban life, economy, business and things people can relate to. Palin showed “those Eastern countries” as something exotic, and concentrated on peasant life and oddities. The way he presented Poland and neighbouring countries (maybe subconsciously) reflected the power relations, and cultural superiority perceived by some in the Western parts of the continent. Similarly a Polish tv crew could go to rural England to find Old odd toothless fisherman doing something strange. Show Britain through this perspective. It can be done, but won’t quite show what’s really going on.

One thing that bugs me in ‘Eye On Poland’ is the constant reference to Poland as “Eastern European” which sounds really outdated. One could say that when Europe was divided into two blocks East and West with the iron curtain. Now, when it’s long gone a quick look at the map of Europe must reveal the simple fact that Poland is at the very centre of Europe. How is that Eastern then? If the bigwigs at CNN read this (how could they not, right?:) ) when people have some misconceptions, you don’t necessarily have to reinforce them.

Here’s an example of CNN work: a story about Sopot, one of the renowned Polish spa towns and a fashionable summer resort:

Antonia Mortensen (who in the Polish version of the clip introduces herself as Antonia Mortensen-Żeromska), encourages you to send in your video stories

Have you seen any of the segments dedicated to Poland? What are your impressions of CNN’s ‘Eye On Poland’?

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