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Special Polish Guardian

Ian Cook

Abstract (English)

Upon the news that now one million Poles live and work in the UK, the daily broadsheet newspaper «The Guardian» ran a "Polish Special" of its G2 features section. As well as focussing on Poles in the UK for its British readers, the newspaper also ran a double page spread in Polish answering questions about the British way of life in a light hearted fashion


Abstract (italiano)

A fronte delle notizie secondo cui oggi un milione di polacchi vive e lavora in Inghilterra, il giornale The Guardian pubblica uno “Speciale Polacco”.
Lo speciale si focalizza sui polacchi in Inghilterra per i suoi lettori anglosassoni, ma diventa anche una doppia pagina scritta in polacco che risponde alle domande sullo stile di vita inglese.

1. The practice

1.1 Description of the project

Every weekday alongside its regular newspaper the Guardian also runs a smaller pull-out called G2, which includes longer stories and features, which are not usually current affairs though are still topical. On Friday 4th of August there was a "Specjalny Polski G2" which focussed solely on Poland, and mainly on Polish workers in the UK.
The front page featured a map of the UK filled with supposedly Polish workers throughout the country with the headline, "Suddenly everything’s gone Polish! A special issue on the one million Poles in Britain".
 The format is almost identical as a regular issue only everything is Polish. Even the puzzle section has Polish puzzles and the food section has Polish food. There are short one column articles, longer three-page in depth reports and short case studies on certain Poles.

1.2 When and how long: structure and steps of the project

The project existed for one day as the newspaper is a daily paper. The newspaper is also available online and though the features are not now presented as a "special polish edition", they still exist and will do for the foreseeable future.

1.3 Place and context

The impetus for the issue was the news that the amount of Poles in the UK has now topped one million. With the accession of eight counties from Central and Eastern Europe into the European Union in 2004, there has been a big increase in migration from these counties to the UK. As of 2006 it is predicted that around 600,000 migrants came in the two years since accession.
The public debate on migration in the UK, especially amongst some of the tabloid press, is not always the most well-informed and can lead to misunderstandings within society. For instance, the idea that migrants arrive in Britain to claim benefits and not "contribute" to the country is widespread. Furthermore, possibly because of the island mentality, little is known of the countries from which migrants come and there is a tendency to group together Eastern Europe.

The British Government has recently indicated that it is considering imposing restrictions on migration from new accession countries (Bulgaria and Romania) and may even reconsider its current open policy towards the current A8 (2004 Accession countries minus Cyprus and Malta) EU states. Poles are easily the biggest nationality within the current influx into the UK making up 61 per cent of the total migrants from the new countries.
The typical Polish stereotype is that of a male plumber, and often little is known of the diverse nature of Polish migrants on the island, their reasons for coming and their hopes for the future. Though evidence is that Poles (and indeed other Central and Eastern European migrants) do not face the same levels of racism as those who are ‘obviously foreign’ because of the colour of their skin. However there have been reports of attacks on Poles, especially when they are concentrated in one house or flat and so easily identifiable (here).
Britain does have a long heritage of Polish immigration with large numbers seeking refuge on the island during the Nazi and Soviet occupations. Polish names are common within British society although there was little visible sign of Polishness before the current influx. Now there are Polish shops and clubs, aspects touched on within the special edition.

1.4 Target

The primary audience is the "normal" Guardian reader. By splashing a large advertisement for the feature on the front page in Polish, then it might be deduced that there is an aim to appeal to Polish readers living in the UK who might not be familiar with the paper. This is further confirmed by the centre page spread in Polish which answers the important questions Poles might have about British life, such as why to girls wear sandals in the winter and what the Queen actually does.

The Guardian is a liberal leaning paper, so it is not an unreasonable assumption to suggest that its readers are also relatively liberal. In this context it is of course easier to present varied positions on the issue of Poles in the UK and manage to discuss "problems" more rationally. At the same time this "target" audience, it might be assumed, would not be hostile towards immigrants in the country to the same extent (if at all) when compared with other parts of society. With this is mind, the audience might well be entertained and interested by the Polish Special, though there might be little "intercultural value" as the readers are already fairly open and tolerant of the Poles.

1.5 Methodology

The most interesting aspect regarding methodology is the use of guest Polish writers interspersed with the usual Guardian journalists. This allows the British reader inside the mind of the Polish migrant, in a way which a British journalist might not necessarily manage. Interviews provide insight into the life of migrants, and the edition does also include interviews, but giving over an article to an individual allows more space for the journalists to explore the concepts which they want to highlight. These include well known individuals such as the writer Dorota Maslowska as well as the Chef Robert Maklowicz.

For instance one article by Julita Kaczmarek explores how "some Poles are more Polish than others", examining how the longer established Polish immigrants look down on the new arrivals for their un-British behaviour. If it was written by a non-Polish journalist then it would be based on assumption or heavily reliant on quotations if it were to attempt the same perspective.

1.6 Authors, Financing and networks

The funding is same for the Guardian as it is for most major newspapers: the sale of advertising space and paper sales. 

2. Comments and hints for an evaluation

Deepening material