The role of the media in shaping public opinion on changes in the NCJ
Reforms relating to the judiciary have been a topic that has been existing in the public debate since the 1990s. Legal solutions in the field of judicial power, adopted under the Polish Round Table Agreements, have not been amended for over 20 years, so the successive changes introduced since 2016 arouse great interest in society. This is because the bodies created at the end of the communist era are still associated today as those that contributed to its collapse and the beginning of the Polish democratic path. Shifting public attention to other topics, such as a bicameral parliament, the dualism of the executive and human rights, only allowed to consolidate the old judicial system during the adoption of the 1997 Constitution.
Over the years, nevertheless, more and more voiced could have been heard about the need for a profound reform of the judiciary. It was due to the subsequent decisions of courts, especially in the case of communist crimes or other pathologies during the court proceedings. This led to the creation of a negative image of the entire judiciary and the vocation of the need for changes in the constitutional field, not only by the political parties, but also by the recognized authorities of the legal and judiciary community, and the civil society.
The reforms introduced in 2017 caused an information storm in the media. It is worth emphasizing that for the majority of citizens those are television, radio, press, and more and more often the Internet which are the only source of information. In Poland, after 2015, the media became highly polarized. They moved away from the model in which journalistic integrity and “dry communication” of information were at the forefront of this craft. In return, articles that are manipulating information or the actual state of the political scene have been released to the public. It was also noted that there had been emergence of the opposition media which is looking for any opportunity to provide their own narrative to the political activities of the parliamentary majority. According to Maria Urban and Agnieszka Zdanowicz “people’s perceptions of the surrounding reality, including the political one, depend to a large extent on what and how it will be presented by the media”. Due to the fact that the media reach wide audience, it does play a huge role in shaping the society. Therefore, they have enormous power in communication, as any false or arbitrary information influences the political and social behaviour of citizens. It was no different in relation to the reforms related to the National Council of the Judiciary and the election of its new composition. Headlines such as “Three candidates for the party-based NCJ” or “Judge Piebiak « Ziobro’s staff » is a candidate for the neo-NCJ. If the Sejm elects him, we will know the intentions of PiS” , they directly impose rhetoric and point of view with regard to the actions of the public authorities.
This creates a distorted picture of reality that affects not only the inhabitants of Poland, but also brings the topic to the debate on the international arena. No wonder then that the CJEU in its ruling (see point 3 of the opinion) states that there has been no breach of the EU law, but as if it a priori indicates that it may occur due to the political and social situation in the country.
- Żaba, Rola mediów w kształtowaniu wizerunku wymiaru sprawiedliwości- zarys problematyki, „Studenckie Zeszyty Naukowe” 2017, vol. XX, nr 34, p. 100.
- Data retrieved from: https://wyborcza.pl/7,75398,26828426,trzech-kandydatow-do-upartyjnionej-krs-wsrod-nich-piebiak.html [15.03.2021].
- Data retrieved from: https://oko.press/sedzia-piebiak-kadrowy-ziobry-kandyduje-do-neo-krs/ [15.03.2021].