Opposition-leaning weeklies predict that Index will never be the same again, following the resignation of over 80 journalists and staff, who quit last week citing their fears of government interference. A pro-government weekly sees an opposition plot behind the conflict.
Hungarian press roundup by budapost.eu
In his front-page editorial in Élet és Irodalom, Zoltán Kovács admits that Index might possibly have continued independently of political interference, but in the long run, its fate was sealed because the ultimate owners were pro-government businessmen. He contrasts those owners to the Sulzberger family which runs the New York Times in the firm belief of serving the public good in harmony with the editorial staff.
In 168óra, Richárd Molnár writes that although he himself works for a newspaper which is owned by a foundation allegedly on good terms with the government, he is nevertheless free to write whatever he deems appropriate about the governing forces. He holds the journalists of Index in great respect for their collective rebellion but thinks ‘one should not give up as long as one can write freely’.
In Heti Világgazdaság, Tamás Ónody-Gomperz is convinced that the government side did not want its conflict with the editorial staff of Index to take such a dramatic turn, because ‘it has now occupied land that has been scorched by the withdrawing enemy forces’. Nevertheless, he lays the blame for what happened firmly at the feet of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, whom he calls first ‘the Napoleon of the Steppe’, then compares to King Edward I of England who sent 500 Welsh bards to the stake in 1277.
In an introductory note to its extensive report on the matter, Jelen condemns the leaders of the foundation running Index for the end of the most popular Hungarian website ‘as we know it’. Restrictions on freedom and destroying creative communities, the editors write, are inexcusable and amount to ‘more than collaboration – their name is treason’.
In its weekly editorial, Magyar Narancs believes that since its assets were in the hands of pro-government investors, Index was doomed to disappear in its present form. But once this was the case, they argue, it was better to end it ‘with a bang rather than a whimper.’ They are confident that sufficient sums will be available to the former Index journalists to set up a new website, but predict that ‘Index will never be the same again’.
In Magyar Hang, Szabolcs Szerető enumerates all the conspiracy theories about the conflict around Index, while he declares himself unconvinced that any of them are true. Nonetheless, he writes, no matter which political side has profited from these events, it is only too sad for a hundred-strong editorial staff to become a tool in a political game.
In Demokrata, editor András Bencsik interprets the events at Index as the opening of the electoral campaign for 2022. As he sees it, the resigning editors were supporters of the liberal Momentum party which is competing with the Democratic Coalition for the title of the most popular opposition force. He suspects a series of provocations inspired by the Democratic Coalition behind the escalation of the conflict between the editorial staff and the foundation which ran Index. As a result, he argues, the opposition managed to feed the international press with false information about democracy being in danger in Hungary, while on the other hand, the Democratic Coalition deprived Momentum of an outlet which ‘staunchly supported it.’
In the featured photo illustration: Index editor-in-chief Szabolcs Dull leaving the office after his dismissal. Photo by István Huszti/Index