When Orbán took over the local media (by proxy at first) he turned the papers into mouthpieces. Countless journalists have resigned, others were fired, some immediately, others after a while – so they could report about the daily workings of the propaganda machine.
One thought it was not out of line to report about the fact that a protest is taking place in his town – only to see his article disappear from the website and social media immediately. The local mayor had the password to all of them and he didn’t like the article. The journalist didn’t need a phone call from above to know that he had just voluntarily resigned.
Others report about centrally written pieces sent to every news room – to no one’s shock, as they are also published simultaneously – and daily memos of soundbites to be used in every reportage – a million times, preferably.
The local paper of Baja became infamous when they published inexplicably photoshopped photos of the opposition candidates. A big, crooked nose here, a wart there, the Fuhrer would be proud.
After the shocking local election results, however, some local papers that are owned by their respective municipalities, are now under a non-Orbánist mayor. Just like the local paper of Baja.
One of the first things the new, non-Orbánist mayor did was sitting down with the editor-in-chief and asked him to apologize for the doctored photos. He did, and then he asked which email address he should send the articles now for approval before publishing. The new mayor instructed him to not send them anywhere, perhaps even start doing actual journalism.
When asked about the doctored images, the editor-in-chief said they didn’t even do it themselves, the local Fidesz headquarters sent them the photos to publish like that. And when asked about the political orders regarding editorial decisions, he cryptically just said that yes, there were directives under Fidesz.
Do these loyalists even know how to do journalism if they are ordered to?