Orlen's takeover of Polska Press, the largest publisher of regional media in Poland, has negatively affected the freedom of journalism in these media, according to a recent report by the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights funded by the Henryk Wujec Civic Fund.
We interviewed journalists who worked or are working in regional media published by Polska Press after its takeover by Orlen. The information collected was used to create the report From Regional Press to Orlen Press. The situation in media owned by Polska Press. The interviews included an assessment of the situation both before and after Orlen's takeover of Polska Press in December 2020.
One of the most important themes emerging from the study was the issue of influencing journalistic freedom. The report identified five key examples of such practices:
- favouring the ruling party and its politicians in editorial coverage - according to a survey participant, "the new editor-in-chief explicitly said "we are not attacking the government'",
- marginalising the political opposition,
- limiting the choice of topics that were considered sensitive from the perspective of the ruling majority, e.g. LGBT rights, the situation of refugees or some news concerning Orlen,
- extra-contentious interference in journalists' texts,
- the familiarity of editorial management with politicians associated with the ruling majority.