Friday, March 26, 2010

Polish journalists lie, er, vie for Kapuscinski award

With impeccable timing, the Polish Press Agency recently announced the 2010 Ryszard Kapuscinski Award. The main criteria are lying, spying, sleeping around with sundry women, and lionising one's self, including by pretending to have met famous people.

Naturally, we jest.

Rather, the award will reward a Polish journalist with PLN 20,000 for "objectivity," "accuracy," "intellectual curiosity," and "the speed of information transmission."

Those are all fine things, but one can't help but wonder how tone deaf the Polish Press Agency can be to be announcing such an award considering the continued furore surrounding the publication of Artur Domoslawski's controversial biography, which is alleged to mention the less salubrious character traits mentioned above.

Domoslawski, a one-time Kapuscinski protege, is alternately being painted as a character assassin or bearer of truth for writing a book that . . . wait for it . . . portrays Kapuscinski as a human being with faults. We weep at such audacity. We wail at the hero-killing zeal. But we applaud anyone willing to take on a national hero, debunk myths but also celebrate an extraordinary writer.

Alicja Kapuscinska, the widow of the late Kapuscinski who tried to block the publication of Domoslawski's biography, is said to have pushed for the Polish Press Agency award. Perhaps, she should reconsider. After all, it is much better to mark the memory of amazing writer, whether of fiction or non, than award those in the name of something that never was.

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