There isn’t much left for us to follow what happens in Hungary. At this point I am more in the loop about American politics than I am about my own country – simply because there aren’t enough journalists left – and those who insist on persevering despite loyalists’ harassment and an increasingly hostile and impatient autocracy are busy raising money to work.
A little over a month ago index.hu, the de facto front page of the Hungarian internet and the most significant independent news site, went down. Orbánist cronies’ hand has finally reached in as they have hacked the lawyer whose trust index.hu was placed into. To give you an idea just how much our lives have grown around index.hu being The News, the site still has an over 80% direct visit rate – meaning that people go straight there, rather than being referred by Google or social media.
Emboldened cronies and aggressive loyalists’ attention quickly turned to 24. hu, the second biggest independent news site, even though it is not in the league of relevance with index.hu. Nothing too small to squash anymore.
This is what we are left with. All of these outlets are feverishly crowdfunding, because not only is Orbán attacking them, Zuckerberg effectively took away the last bit of their advertising revenues, leaving them exposed to influence by whoever can pay journalists’ salaries. In Hungary it is only Orbán – even a cocky foreign billionaire wouldn’t be allowed to established or buy a news outlet and finance their operations.
|Remaining independent |
news outlets compared to index.hu
(no longer independent)
|75M (before takeover) |
43M (after, and sinking)
There are also two investigative outlets to mention, átlátszó.hu and direkt36.hu, but they are not news portals. 24.hu and 444.hu are now our remaining eyes on what is happening in our country. The journalists of index.hu are planning to start a new outlet, it will have a huge gap to fill.
And even then, the entire online memory of the country can now be deleted. And if there’s anything we’ve learned about the government’s so-called memory-politics, it is that they want to do exactly that as they believe that history has to be rewritten by them, the winners.