Dominik Ksieski

Ashoka Fellow
Warsaw, Poland
Fellow Since 2010

Citation

This profile was prepared when Dominik Ksieski was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2010.
The New Idea
Dominik is creating the future of independent local press aiming at all citizens in Poland to have access to a neutral, accurate, and reliable press that takes on the government and vested interest groups and exposes corruption. Through his Association of Local Newspapers (ALN), he is mobilizing the first generation of private local publishers in Poland, and is enabling them to collaborate around issues that expand their footprint throughout Poland. Dominik’s new operating model for local independent press—one that is networked, but decentralized, competitive, and sustainable—ensures that the movement toward accessible local independent press continues to grow rather than backtrack in the face of industry threats.

In Poland, three quarters of the population live outside big cities; however, 40 percent of these rural areas still do not have access to privately-run independent newspapers. Dominik is expanding geographically by targeting and helping local publishers set up independent newspapers in some of the most isolated communities in Poland, including post-collective farming areas where access to information is limited by municipality controlled press and low levels of citizenship awareness. These high-risk communities present a major political and strategic opportunity for the industry’s long-term survival.

Having already built a movement that covers 60 percent of Polish localities, representing 107 independent newspapers, Dominik is creating systems to keep these independent newspapers sustainable. Recognizing that the survival of the sector depends on its financial independence, and its ability to remain competitive vis-à-vis media conglomerates, Dominik is diversifying the revenue sources of local newspapers. By establishing a shared advertisement service for the whole association, he has opened up the central advertising market to local publishers that would otherwise be unable to access it. Furthermore, to improve the attractiveness of local newspapers to advertising agencies, Dominik introduced the first readership survey of local weeklies, conducted by the same company that surveys regional and national newspapers.

Dominik is also working to ensure the long-term sustainable future of local independent press by placing curbs on newspapers subsidized by local governments. Members of his independent press movement publish watchdog articles daily and, without taking a point of view, they reveal local cases of corruption that would otherwise be left unturned. Dominik’s press association is therefore contributing to transparency and healthy public life, while reducing the involvement of local governments in the press industry.

Finally, with an eye toward sustainability, Dominik is assisting this first generation of publishers in creating succession plans for their newspapers to ensure that ownership will remain local and dedicated to the same ideals—that the local independent press movement is ultimately about recognizing an opportunity to create effective citizenship at the local level and strengthening the social and ethical fiber of communities.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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