Tag Archives: media

First Polish weekly available for Kindle

Polityka, one of the oldest and best Polish weekly magazines, has launched its Kindle version. I’m not sure whether it’s available for other ereaders too, but the Kindle version is surprisingly good.

Polityka – despite its title – doesn’t just focus on politics, but is a high-quality liberal weekly whose topics span a wide range: from politics to science, from history to culture.

The publishers admit that the reason why they launched the magazine on Kindle – which has just a handful of users in Poland itself – is to reach Poles living abroad. You can buy just one issue for £2.99 or pay £5.99 for a monthly subscription, which actually doesn’t sound bad. However, when you compare to prices paid in US dollars – $1.99 and $3.99 – the Sterling prices sound like a rip-off. But that’s beside the point.

My suggestion is that – if you’re a fairly advanced Polish learner and own a Kindle – you should give it a go. There’s nothing better than learning a language from relatively well-written, real-language sources like newspapers, magazines, or blogs.

The experience is surprisingly good and user-friendly. There are no ads, almost all articles come with images (yes, there are black and white, but still clear enough) and the whole issue is divided into easily-navigable sections and articles. And the good thing about Kindle is the fact it works on any platform – so even if you don’t have the reader itself you can still use the Kindle app on your PC, iPhone, Mac or Android device.

And if you already own a Kindle, you know that most magazines come with a 14-day free trial, which you can cancel at any time.

It would be brilliant if more Polish publishers followed suit, although if you’re interested in Polish ebooks for Kindle and other readers, there’s already plenty of choice and many of titles are available for free.

A good place to start is ebook.pl (in Polish), where you can download samples and/or whole books (including free ones – click on the “darmowe’ tab). There are also some magazines and audiobooks there too.

The biggest Polish bookstore, Empik, has also launched an online ebook shop.

Password Incorrect is a great Polish blog – partly written in English too – with great resources and links for all ebook fans.

Miłego czytania!

P.S. I guess I should get myself an iPad now and see what’s available in Polish there…

Chris Moyles and Polish prostitutes

Let’s turn the tables. Normally I write about something Poland-related here, but this time I would like you to give me the facts and, perhaps more importantly, the opinions.

I was away and quite busy over the past few days, and only just noticed tonight while on the Tube home a storm brewing on the comments pages of thelondonpaper. Allegedly Chris Moyles said something about Poles and prostitutes. The reaction was a usual mix of the Daily Mail-style blind outrage and the Guardian-style laid-back liberalism. From condemnation to the ever so useful (and frankly meaningless) calls for the critics ‘to get a life’.

I’m not going to form an opinion at this stage. I don’t know what happened. Don’t know what was said. Don’t know the context. And I don’t want to fall in the trap of passing judgement before all facts have been established – and understood.

So please tell me what it’s all about. And what you think of it. Should I chain myself to my oven in protest or is it another overblown storm in a teacup?

Give me the facts and the opinion.

Racism or bad taste? Or a technical error?

“Did you know Barack Obama has Polish blood? Yes, his grandpa ate a Polish missionary”

This is a ‘joke’ I heard in Poland last week. It was attributed to Poland’s Foreign Minister (!), Radek Sikorski. The politician later had to explain that he did not actually tell the joke, he only used it as an example of racist jokes he claimed Polish people made.

Whether he did say that or not, a ‘joke’ like that should not be associated with any high government dignitary, let alone with a top diplomat. And this is I think the problem with Polish racism – despite appearances, it’s probably not more widespread than anywhere else, but it’s more visible due to a shocking lack of appropriate examples and guidance from Polish leaders.

Poland is – and has always been – a very welcoming and hospitable country. But it also is – or was – dominated by one religion and one race. Under the Communist rule it was also very isolated and to a degree it still is suffering from the destructive influence of such isolation. Most people have not had enough exposure to different religions, different races, different sexual preferences etc. And even though the nation in general is nowadays a bit more aware of the fact that certain comments are perceived as racist, homophobic or xenophobic, it will still take a long time – and a lot of work – to make people respect any differences more than they do now. Particularly, when political and religious leaders themselves allow for such cock-ups to happen.

When Barack Obama was announced as president-elect, one of Polish opposition MPs called it

‘the end of the white man era’.

Last week, a Polish Catholic magazine for children distributed a leaflet which read:

“A lamp without oil is dark. So is man without prayer”.

The leaflet was illustrated with a picture of a dark-skinned child saying “Pity prayer doesn’t brighten the skin”.

In both cases, apologies were issued after a widespread storm in Polish media. In both cases, the people responsible for the offending quotes/materials explained their actions, saying that ‘it shouldn’t have happened’ or that it was ‘a technical error’. A technical error?

It took just a couple of minutes to explain to the person who told me the Obama ‘joke’ why in a multi-cultural, multi-faith, multi-race society such a joke would largely be considered racist rather than just in bad taste. They understood that, even though a few minutes earlier it was still funny and ‘innocent’. And I guess many, if not most people would understand too – if they had more exposure to other faiths or races or beliefs.

Or if their leaders were less ignorant and less arrogant.

UPDATE: The minister in question is not going to step down, Polish PM is not commenting and the joke might have been originated by the brother of the current Polish president, says the Daily Telegraph. No culprits, no victims. No issue. 7b2fc9179318d4f9935422422a02092a

Londyńczycy – EastEnders come to Poland

This is supposed to be the biggest production to hit Polish TV in ages. Or possibly ever. “Londyńczycy” (Londoners) is a new soap which debuts on TVP1 (Polish equivalent of BBC1) tonight. It has been heavily promoted all over the country with massive billboards and – judging by how many UK papers have picked up on the story – by an equally huge PR campaign.

So, what is “Londyńczycy”? To be honest, until yesterday I didn’t know much about it, but if The Daily Telegraph is to be believed, it

is the first Polish programme to look at the post-accession wave of immigration, which has seen many of Poland’s young people relocate to Britain.

Alarm bells. Alarm bells. Is it all about builders and waitresses then?

Two of the main characters are Darek, a 30-year-old Polish builder who lives in Ealing, west London, and Mariola, 25, who has come to the country to become famous and to marry a rich English gentleman. The gritty storylines will tackle subjects like racism and exploitation, and the series has already been compared to a ‘Polish Eastenders’.

Er, yes, right. But it’s not all Bobski the Builder. According to The Guardian,

Visually, Londoners recalls a smart, urban show like Queer as Folk. Most Poles will admit that until now, most of their indigenous TV drama has been pretty tawdry-looking stuff churned out for very little money. But with a budget of 13.5m zloty (£3m), Londoners has been able to up the ante, filming its interior shots in Poland, where studio space is still very cheap, and splurging on flashy exteriors shot on location in London. There are scenes at Wembley stadium, on the London Eye, at the South Bank Centre and at other less postcard-familiar spots around the capital including Victoria bus station, a Polish deli and a Western Union money transfer outlet.

Can’t remember a Western Union money transfer outlet from Queer as Folk, but never mind. I’ll look out for clips of it on YouTube to see what it’s all about myself. I don’t think it will aim to show the whole picture about the Polish migrants in the UK, just like EastEnders does not necessarily represent all Londoners. After all Polish dentists and GPs are nowhere near as interesting as Polish baddies, who, according to the series producer, Andrzej Szajna

are screwing over other Poles, which is so often the case in real life.

Image © itvp

Frieze frame

I went to Frieze Art Fair in Regent’s Park last Saturday and it was quite fun – as always with such things, a bit of a mind-blowing experience. But that’s to be expected from Frieze. What I didn’t expect to see was a Polish newspaper turned into a piece of art.

I came across this piece by Suzanne Treister, called Alchemy/Dziennik Polski:

Now, as you may or may not know, Dziennik Polski is a Polish daily, which has been published in London since 1940. (The Polish community here is nothing new and it’s had its presence on the British media scene since, well, since the Polish Section of the BBC started broadcasting in 1939. At least.)

But what the hell did the newspaper do as part of an art fair, in a massive frame and with highly symbolic signs? It’s part of Suzanne Trester’s series of works

which transcribe front pages of international daily newspapers into alchemical drawings, reframing the world as a place animated by strange forces, powers and belief systems.

A quick visit to her website reveals that The Guardian, the Evening Standard, Le Monde, Die Welt, FT, and my personal favourite, The Sun, plus scores of other newspapers all became part of the artistic process. I’ve never heard of Suzanne before, but – being a ‘media type’ – I fell in love with her work. If I could only express so accurately and poigniantly what I think about the state of modern media…..

Poland loves Bollywood?

Until a few years ago the term ‘Bollywood’ didnt mean much to an average Pole. Poland doesn’t have a large Indian community, at least not as numerous as its British counterpart. Hence Bollywood cinema wasn’t really big in Poland.

Yet, to my surprise, Bollywood is now used as marketing tool by some media in Poland. I came across this little piece on an Indian website, claiming that one of the main Polish newspapers, Gazeta Wyborcza, has found a way of increasing its readership by offering discounted Bollywood dvds with its Saturday edition. Bollywood Hungama claims the move has resulted in the increase in the sales by about 50,000 copies:

Bollywood films have been selling like hot cakes in Poland, their favourite star being Shah Rukh Khan. The craze for Bollywood films and SRK started with the release of Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham in January 2005. Since then, his films like Kal Ho Naa Ho, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, Dil Se etc. have been topping the list.

One has to buy the weekend issue of the Gazeta Wyborcza and pay an extra of $2.50 in order to take home a Bollywood film with Polish subtitles. Apparently, the coming weekend would see Aamir Khan’s Fanaa being given out, the climax of which was shot at the Tatra Mountains in Poland.

Way back in the 80s the entire country followed the endless Mexican soaps, with The Slave Isaura achieving the status of a cult series (*sigh*), then we all got hooked on Dallas and Dynasty, so I guess it’s only natural for Poles to switch to a new genre now. Bollywood is now officially big in Poland. Who knew?

Image © Meanest Indian via Flickr, used under CC licence