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It means that the management board chose to continue pursuing a strategy of confrontation, but also, and even worse, did not draw any conclusions from its previous actions. Instead, the Board considers opening itself up to dialogue and compromise as a sign of weakness. In our view, this means that the Board has not given up on its attempts to subordinate "Gazeta Wyborcza" to its own interests.

We find it necessary to recall that the conflict between our newspaper’s editorial staff and Agora's management board was instigated by the latter, from beginning to end. In June 2021, without consulting the head editors of "Gazeta Wyborcza", a decision was made to fire our managing editor Jerzy Wójcik and merge "Wyborcza" with Gazeta.pl- a free online news portal also published by Agora. The majority of our editorial team, headed by Adam Michnik and Jarosław Kurski, stood up in defense of "Wyborcza". We were hoping that the past months would bring reflection on the part of the management board and that our demands to respect the independence of "Wyborcza" would be understood and taken seriously.

The larger context remains key in this case. We are not operating in a vacuum. The internal attack on "Wyborcza" is taking place in a situation when Poland is in its sixth year of authoritarian consolidation. Independent media are the biggest obstacle to this government’s plans to destroy the democratic system in our country. "Wyborcza" is one of the last points of resistance against this authoritarian drive.

Already in June, we warned that making irresponsible changes in such an unfavorable political climate weakens "Gazeta Wyborcza" and harms the efforts to defend democracy. Back then, we wrote about something seemingly obvious: that "Gazeta Wyborcza", being subject to a massive attack by the ruling camp, requires the support of its publisher. We also pointed out that Agora was created thanks to the success of "Gazeta Wyborcza" and was meant to provide a stable financial base for the newspaper and other media within the group. We argued that despite a difficult period in the printed press market, "Wyborcza's" editorial team found a way to overcome it, and with over 250 thousand paid digital subscriptions was able to restore its position as Poland’s leading newspaper. One of the fathers of this success is Jerzy Wójcik. Thanks to him, "Gazeta Wyborcza" recorded positive financial results for yet another consecutive year and the team does not have to fear the specter of layoffs and reductions. New divisions are being opened, new people are hired, and pay rises can be planned.

We were hoping that the Board would understand our arguments. Unfortunately, over the last few months, this hope has faded. Since the very beginning of this conflict, the actions of the management board indicated that it wants to carry out its plan in one way or another, at the same time refusing to learn from its mistakes. The promise to add a person representing "Gazeta Wyborcza" to the management board was simply broken. Instead, a demonstrative move was made to co-opt Agnieszka Siuzdak, the head of Gazeta.pl. We do not know the details of Jerzy Wójcik's dismissal, but the disciplinary procedure, reserved for the most drastic cases, raises our justified suspicion about the Board's intentions.

To the detriment of both "Gazeta Wyborcza" and the company as a whole, under the current circumstances, the efficient functioning of the editorial office is practically impossible. "Gazeta Wyborcza" is and must remain one of the cornerstones of Agora. We therefore urge the management board once again to put an end to the internal war which is hurting the entire company.

Signed:

Marek Beylin, Wojciech Czuchnowski, Agnieszka Kublik, Teresa Kruszona, Michał Olszewski, Ewa Wieczorek, Dominika Wielowieyska, Michał Wilgocki, Rafał Zakrzewski

Members of the Council of Editors of „Gazeta Wyborcza"

***

Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about Polish politics and society, keeping a critical eye on the ruling camp’s persistent assault on democratic values and the rule of law; the growing cultural tension between religious fundamentalism and human rights; and the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic. Our journalists are on the front lines in 25 Polish cities, reporting from the streets, hospitals, and courtrooms about issues that move public opinion.

We decided to make our service available to everyone free of charge in order to provide access to high quality journalism for expats and English speakers interested in Polish affairs. 

The access to information should be equal for all.

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