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In the last week, the 2020 World Press Freedom Index was published (map of results here). One thing in particular which stood out to me was Poland's ranking of 62nd overall, along with a rough classification of 'problematic'. This is in stark contrast to the situation of 5 years ago, which rated Poland at 18th in the world, ahead of Switzerland (20th), and far ahead of the UK (34th) and the US (49th).

enter image description here Cropped map to illustrate changes in Europe - Data source: https://rsf.org/

What happened politically over the last five years to cause this significant shift?

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After the Law and Justice (PiS) party of Poland won parliamentary elections in 2019, the PiS announced a 232-page election manifesto promising a "new media order". This political party also has a lot of control over state media including the influential TV station TVP. The party has also been able to sue certain newspapers it doesn't like over a joke, sometimes doing so repeatedly to intimidate the news source into silence. This level of state control over the media and extremely right-wing agenda has led to this decline in the ranking of Poland in the World Press Freedom Index. This is described even further by Reporters Without Borders:

The government’s drive to subjugate the judicial system and a growing tendency to criminalize defamation are beginning to have an effect on the freedom of expression of independent media outlets. Some courts are now using article 212 of the criminal code, under which journalists can be sentenced to as much as a year in prison for defamation, although the civil code offers citizens all the protection they need if they are defamed. Even if the courts usually content themselves with fining journalists, the use of article 212 encourages self-censorship by the independent media. -Reporters Without Borders, Poland

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