The Paradoxes of Freer Expression. Vanishing taboos create new problems for independent-minded journalists and artists. POLAND: UNSHACKLING THE MEDIA
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``These days, you can say that the communists made mistake after mistake,'' she notes. ``What you can't say is that the installation of communist rule was a criminal error, that it all was a mistake from the beginning.''Skip to next paragraph
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Solidarity advisors add that the new media law will not disband the party's press council. It will continue to control major appointments in the state media and distribution of newsprint, always in short supply.
The authorities proved pretty open about newspapers,'' says Jan Jozsef Lipski, a leading union analyst. ``They were much more stubborn about television, making only minor concessions because they realize this is the key medium.''
BUT the concessions already are enough to pose unexpected problems for once-suppressed artists. Krakow's political cabarets, long a haven for poking nuanced fun at authorities, are finding it hard to attract audiences.
``Cabaret has become boring,'' says Regina Pytlik, the local official in charge of culture. ``There is so much freedom to criticize that the artists are having more and more difficulty making up things that make people laugh.''
Much more serious are the new difficulties facing the thriving underground press. Since the 1981 declaration of martial law, the underground has expanded into a professionally run business, putting out more than 1,000 publications, ranging from photocopied pamphlets to slick journals. What happens now that the opposition enjoys its own official press which specializes in its former monopoly - printing the noncommunist point of view?
``There's going to be a big shakeout in the underground press,'' predicts one Western diplomat. ``A lot of the publications will go broke.''
Underground publishers must decide whether to go legitimate. This would bring numerous inconveniences: buying paper officially (much of their supplies now are ``taken'' by printing-plant workers), employing workers officially (many now work in the ``black''), and perhaps worse of all, paying the high taxes on private entrepreneurs.
In the past, many authors chose to publish underground because their works would be printed within a couple of months while an official publisher would take at least two years. Going legal might reduce its speed advantage - and its daring.
``When you come out into the open, you are subject to other types of pressures,'' explains Anna Teresa Szymanska, a journalist with an underground magazine.
``You can't just write what you want, you must be more responsible, more careful about what you say.''
Ms. Szymanski is debating whether to bring her own publication above ground. In recent years, she says, the underground press had little to fear. While stiff fines occasionally were imposed, no one risked going to jail for ``illegal'' publishing. Underground journalists even were accredited to attend press conferences during the round-table.
``Perhaps the best solution is to stay underground, officially tolerated, even if not officially legalized,'' she concludes. ``You must remember, we're still in the process of transforming our totalitarian press into a free press. We have much further to go.''