English Feature #7-34927 Broadcast June 11, 2001
Newsstands on street corners in the Greenpoint section of New York City, which has a large Polish-American population, carry Polish-language magazines and newspapers, in addition to the usual American fare. Most of the Polish publications are air-mailed from Poland. But one Polish-language newspaper widely read in New York, as well as everywhere in America where Polish immigrants live, is published in New York itself. Today on New American Voices the editor of the paper, Maciej Wierzynski, talks about his newspaper and its readers.
The offices of "Nowy Dziennik", or the New Daily, are in the heart of Manhattan, only a few blocks from Times Square, the city's famous entertainment and theatre district. About 50 people work in the newspaper's narrow five-story building putting out the 32-page, tabloid-format paper each day. Sixteen are journalists, the others work in the advertising, layout, marketing and computer departments.The building also houses a Polish bookstore and an art gallery.
With a circulation of 30,000, Nowy Dziennik is the largest Polish-language newspaper in the world, outside of Poland. Editor in Chief Maciej Wierzynsky says that while the paper is intended for all Poles living in America, a majority of the readers are people who immigrated to the United States relatively recently. This, he says, determines the selection of material.
"For our readers the first priority is news from Poland and about Poland. So we have six pages of news about Poland. Then we have news about American Polonia, about Poles living in the United States, metro news, I mean the New York area, then the world, and America itself, and economy. And sport is also very important. And immigration problems, I must add, and legal advice. This is, you know, one of the most important topics for all new immigrants."
Maciej Wierzynsky believes that the newspaper has an important educational function, as well.
"Part of our mission, as I see it, is also to explain America, American life, American political life, American political system to our readers. And we put a lot of emphasis also on educational issues -- how to get to the good schools, how to get scholarships, how to negotiate the tuition at the university, this kind of advice."
Mr. Wierzynski says the newspaper makes a special effort to attract young people, and publishes a weekly supplement specifically aimed at them.
"The supplement is run by one of our colleagues from the Columbia School of Journalism, a young man, and we cover subjects of interest for young people, like popular culture, movies, television, music, fashion, and sports. So that's how we try to attract young readers."
The editors of "Nowy Dziennik" hope that these young readers will continue to read the newspaper as they grow older, and thus help assure its continued existence. But Maciej Wierzynski points out the future of the paper depends on a number of factors.
"In general, the decisive factor is how many new people would come to the United States. With each new wave of immigrants our readership jumps up. When the new wave is going through the process of assimilation, the readership goes down. We're fighting against demographics and time. I think that if nothing unusual or terrible happens in Poland, which would lead to a new massive emigration from Poland, we can survive for another fifteen or twenty years. I don't even try to look beyond this horizon."
Mr. Wierzynsky notes, however, that a famous Polish writer, after visiting Poles in Chicago at the end of the 19th century, wrote that in a hundred years there would be no Polish schools left in America, no Polish churches, no Polish newspaper. Nevertheless, one hundred years later, the Polish-American community - and its largest newspaper - continue to thrive.