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Autor Fabio Reinhardt

Interview with Pawel Jachemek, editor in Olsztyn

The Interview took place in November 2007 in Gałkowo in Masuria at a workshop for young journalists, held by the German-Polish Youth foundation supported by the German embassy in Warsaw. Our reporter Fabio Reinhardt was talking to Pawel Jachemek, a Polish student journalist and fellow attendee of the workshop about his respective experience working at his very own student newspaper.

BUZe: Pawel, tell us about yourself and the newspaper you are working for.

I am studying in Olsztyn. Our university has about 30.000 students. The name of my newspaper is „Lubczasopismo“. The project started in 2006. But it is kind of a continuation of a previous newspaper I also used to work for and that was published at my faculty from 2002 until 2006. Its name is Organ. Shortly after founding the “Lubaczsopismo” we distributed only 150 copies among the faculty of social sciences and humanities. But now we have reached 1000 copies already which are spread around the whole university.

BUZe: Who had the idea for this newspaper? Were there any special reasons for its founding?

No. No special idea. There was just this common will to make this newspaper. We just wanted to do something more constructive than just watching TV.

BUZe: Do you have an aim with your newspaper?

One of our aims is to give our students a lot of practical information. To tell them about the programs that they can attend? We saw that some students did not attend programs such as Erasmus only because they were insufficiently informed about them. So we started to gather all the information about all programs covered at our university.

The other aim was to give students an opportunity to write something themselves so they can express themselves without any pressure or censorship. I think the aim of journalism is in general: To give people a voice and to bring discussions to the public.

BUZe: Was it enough to give the students of your faculty a voice to motivate them to send in articles for the „Lubczasopismo“? With regards, these students seem to be very engaged.

Yes. Many people at our university are very eager to express their thoughts. And if you tell them about this newspaper, that may be the final kick to get them to share their thoughts with others. From last year to this year we have had many new volunteers. So I think it´s working.

BUZe: How did you find the people that are working with you at the university newspaper? Did you look for friends or did you ask complete strangers?

In the beginning it was only a group of close friends. But after we started to work ont the project, we met with other people who were interested in journalism. We did not know them but they had already published a few pieces of work and so they joined in with us. After a while and our first common publications we got to know them better. So the project grew bigger and more diverse. Most people people are definitely studying humanities and social sciences. Because we started from a single faculty. The idea to bring the newspaper to other parts of the campus is quite new to us. So we just started to find people on other faculties to work with us. Just last week I met with a girl studying law who was interested in writing.

BUZe: How do you find and then motivate people to work for your newspaper?

A big motivation for people is to see their name being printed in the final version of the newspaper. The only way to motivate people is for them to have the right attitude from the beginning. Then, all you have to do is to look out for those people and talk them. In the end this ammounts to a lot of talking.

Pawel Jachemek

BUZe: Do you have courses at your university that are related to the „Lubczasopismo“? Are there ways to get credit points for the work at the newspaper?

We do not have courses that are connected to the newspaper. The students that work on the „Lubczasopismo“ will have the benefit of getting a good insight in how a newspaper works. We offer people experience that they can use later on to work on other newspapers. And overall I think this learning experience is something that we all can use in further life.


BUZe: Which soft skill that you can achieve by working at a student newspaper do you consider most important for other jobs?

When writing for the newspaper you have to express your thoughts in a limited space. To get to the point. That experince is useful for working on any possible project.

BUZe: How often is the „Lubczasopismo“ being published? And is there a lot of pressure shortly before the final release?

It is published once a month. There is indeed some pressure. I try to push people to keep up with their deadlines. But quite often it is impossible to keep it exactly. Sometimes I tell people the deadline is earlier than it really is so they keep it this time.

BUZe: Do your writers choose their own topics or are they chosen for them?

Sometimes our editorial staff has topics that we still need writers for. Then we try to put the idea for the topic into people´s heads to get them interested in the topic. But most of the time people will have good idea what they want to write about beforehand.

BUZe: Let´s talk a bit about the funding of the „Lubczasopismo“. Is it free of charge? And how much of the money is put into the newspaper by the university?

It is free of charge for our readers. We obtain some funds for the printing process. That is about half of our needs. Then we have a language school that is supporting us. They in turn get the opportunity to advertise in the newspaper. And the ammount of money that is needed for the office stuff is very small and can be obtained from various sources.

BUZe: Does being supported by the university mean that you depend on them in any way? Do you feel free to publish critical comments at will?

For me the money we get from the university would not be a reason to censor myself from printing certain articles that might be very critical. I would generally print the article first, then ask questions or watch for reactions later. Actually I don´t think the authorities of the university are looking into what may be or not be the content of a newspaper which is being published in a number of only a thousand copies. Sometimes I really get the feeling they don´t care.

BUZe: Do you also write about the political parties and the general political situation in Poland? Or are there just topics related to your university? Tell us about the content of the newspaper.

In general everything can be published in the newspaper that you can somehow prove. That includes also harsh critique of the government or of the political parties. We do not limit our editors in any way. They can even write about celebrities if they want. But so far it has been more political stuff than about culture or celebrities which I guess might also be attributed to the fact that most writers come from the faculty of humanities.

BUZe: Next question: Printed content versus the internet. Who wins?

I think these two media are very independent from each other. And I think that both of them will have their place in the future. The internet gives you the opportunity to write things instantly and to transport it to the recipient immediately. It´s just a lot quicker than the newspaper. If the editors of a newspaper try to win in the field of delivering information as fast as possible they can only lose. But if they change their profile they with regard to opinion and more commentary they will be able to survive. Because people will still be interested in other people´s opinions. I am not too sure in regard to this question but I think that the newspaper is far from dead.

They also want to have something that they can take into their own hands instead of watching into their screens. This may be kind of a sentimentality but that´s how people are: sentimental. If the people working for the newspaper remember that and analyse the differences between the two media, they will be able to produce something people will stick to.

From my personal experiences I can say that our readers seem to value the effort we are making with producing something they can take away. However they always ask if they can find an issue on the internet.

BUZe: So can they? How is your web page?Is it good?

It´s poor. You can find each issue on the internet. But we would also need someone to manage it. We need someone for the graphics and to update the page. And I just have one person to do this.

BUZe: How are your connections to other newspapers? And do you think that this seminar will be good to build up new connections between the „Lubaczsopismo“ and other student newspapers?

Well, so far our newspaper is still very young. I will try to build up some connections here in GaÅ‚kowo but even that will require some time. Our next step will be to find people from other faculties to work with. Maybe in the future we will also write articles in other languages. For now we didn´t find any occasion to print in a different language. There were only two people from abroad, being on exchange via Erasmus on our faculty and they didn´t want to write for or read our newspaper.

BUZe: Thanks a lot, Pawel, for the interview.


Update 02/2009: Unfortunately the Lubczasopismo did not last long after the interview was taken. Here ist what Pawel wrote about it in February 2009: "Along the academic year of 2007/2008 we, I mean Lubczasopismo, lost nearly half of the crew due to their MA diploma and graduation. Unfortunately younger coleagues weren't so eager to write articles regularly and in consequence we couldn't prepare an issue every month. In may 2008 the editorial staff consisted only of 3 or 4 persons and we were forced to close the newspaper end excuse our sponsors."
Personal note: It looks like student newspapers are suffering from the same problems on many places.