AWARDS
Journalism 2020

OKO Press is the 2020 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards Journalism Fellow

16 Apr 2020
BY INDEX ON CENSORSHIP

OKO Press is the one of the first free investigative journalism and fact-checking websites in Poland. 

They investigate and evaluate statements made by politicians, monitor public spending, and fight for access to public information. Their work also supports grassroots activism; crucial in an environment sliding further and further into authoritarianism and censorship. 

OKO Press have paved the way for other news sources to follow suit. This has contributed to a safer and stronger public sphere, fighting for immunity from government propaganda. 

The environment in which they work is becoming increasingly hostile. Political polarisation, lack of transparency, suspicion, threats and withholding of information are common. In the face of this, OKO Press shows resilience and determination. 

 

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we are OKO.press. “Oko” means “eye” in Polish. 

Since 2016, we keep an eye on what is happening in the EU and the world, but most importantly in Poland. Our country is going through a tough trial under the government of the populist right that invokes the worst nationalist traditions. 

As journalists, we check whether those in power are not misleading us. We shine a light on the things they are trying to hide. 

We are a participatory medium. We give a voice to all kinds of community initiatives. Which — like us — believe in the values of constitutional democracy, truth and transparency, human rights, including gender equality, the rights of LGBT+ people, as well as animal rights, environmentalism, and protecting the planet from climate change. 

We are honoured to receive the award, but also humbled but the fact that other nominees, from Hong Kong, Venezuela of Burundi are acting in much harder circumstances. Friends, we admire your courage, determination and quality of work. 

Kaczyński is no Maduro, Nkurunziza, Putin, or Erdogan, but apparently he takes his inspiration from them. We are not a dictatorship yet, though we are close to the so-called electoral authoritarianism, where all forms of public scrutiny, besides the elections, are being suppressed. 

The prize is a great distinction for us, but also proof that the world is interested in what is happening in Poland. And justly so, because the virus in one EU country will spread further [until] there are no countries left free of infection. It is short-sighted and arrogant to think that Poland or Hungary are irrelevant because they are merely Eastern Europe. 

Index on Censorship is the organisation which prevents us from silencing our consciences. In many places of the world we face political violence, laws being broken, and a wave of authoritarian right-wing populism. 

Truth is the weapon of the civilised society. The pandemic has show that truth is ever more important, as the lack of the feeling of safety can lead to mass retreat from freedom. But catastrophes and crises also give rise to what is best and change the world. The Covid-9 crisis can come out for the better as well. 

We promise to continue the fight against the anti-democratic virus which is taking over the world. We have one humble measure: the word. But as Vaclav Havel said, this is and always has been Power of the Powerless. 

We believe the danger will wane, both epidemic and political. We will wake up in a healthier world. 

Please help us to keep going. Read and support OKO.press. 

Thank you for the award! “


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