» Local journalism in the limelight

Local journalism in the limelight

2016. 10. 05. | News, News: Relaunching Journalism

The Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ) conducted an online questionnaire survey about the situation of journalists working for local media in Hungary in spring of 2016. This survey, coupled with several background interviews with local journalists was presented at the international conference “Local journalism in the limelight” held on 21st September 2016.

In her opening speech CIJ director Ilona Móricz referred to a recent research and studies on local journalism in the US and a few countries of Western-Europe and some of its conclusions, including that local media are losing the battle for media users’ attention and have less market power than before; and that there are doubts if digital media can boost the amounts of local journalism. Participants of the conference, however, expressed their careful optimism about the perspectives of local journalism in Hungary.

Audience on the local journalism conference

At the conference Eszter Kiss (CIJ) presented the findings of the online questionnaire survey about the situation of journalists working for local media in Hungary conducted by CIJ. The primary goal of the snapshot research was to identify the professional needs of local journalists for advancing skills especially in the realm of digital media, as well as to gather data on their working conditions and contentment with remuneration. The CIJ also aimed to map the key problems faced by the local media industry and to receive responses from stakeholders in order to help local journalists in the future by providing them workshops and other types of assistance. The answers showed that local journalists rarely had a chance to participate in training workshops organized at their workplace. As an average, local journalists had the opportunity to participate in training 6,5 years ago, while on average they had been working in the local media industry for 16 years. Autonomy and independence of the local journalist could be questioned according to the answers that showed 15% of the respondents face censorship during their everyday work.

In addition to the survey, ten in-depth interviews were conducted by László Bellai with editors, managers of local media with a diverse background from all media and all geographic regions. These personal narratives and stories provide a unique insight into the daily work of local media professionals and their motifs, dilemmas and perspectives. Both the findings of the survey and the interviews are available in Hungarian at the website helyiujsagiras.hu created for the conference by CIJ Budapest.

Kinga Incze is presenting

After the presentation of the survey Kinga Incze, manager of Mrs. White Consulting and founder of WhiteReport.hu delivered a presentation on the ownership structure and the business trends of local media industry in Hungary. According to the database of WhiteReport, there were 420 local television channels, 111 local radio stations, 2500 local print newspapers and 800 local online news sites at the first quarter of 2016. It is a special feature of the Hungarian local media that local governments own, operate and influence a significant share of the media market.

During a panel discussion and short presentations Alenka Brun (Gorenjski glas, Slovenia), Jadran Kapor (Dubrovacki vjesnik, Croatia), Sabine Miesgang (Regionalmedien Austria) and media law expert Milos Stojkovic (Serbia) discussed with Sándor Orbán (CIJ) the different features of local media in each country.

Milos Stojkovic, Jadran Kapor, Sabine Miesgang and Alenka Brun

Hungarian local media professionals also discussed their experiences during the last panel. Attila Bátorfy (Átlátszó.hu) asked them about their situation and future perspectives. Gyöngyi Roznár, chief-editor of Nyugat.hu, Balázs Eckhardt manager of the Television of Kecskemét and vice-president of the National Association of Local Television Stations, Tibor Kovács, president of the Hungarian Publishers’ Association, Csaba Nyerges, chief-editor of Kisalföld, Balázs Szabados advisor of Ittlakunk.hu and András Radetzky, president of the National Association of Local Radio Stations and vice CEO of Hungarian Catholic Radio participated in the discussion. Their experiences and opinions actually confirmed the existence of anomalia and problems described by CIJ’s online survey. Although they said that their media organizations and media sectors are doing better than a few years ago, they admitted problems, including the lack of financial and human resources for professional trainings and investigative journalism. They also confirmed that editorial independence and autonomy are problematic issues in the local media industry and honorary fees are another critical aspect of local journalism.

More photos about the conference are available here (Photos by László Bellai):