The end for major Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet
The conservative Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet will be published for the last time today, Wednesday. Its owner, Lajos Simicska, an oligarch and former Fidesz supporter who now fiercely opposes Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, announced the newspaper's closure on Tuesday. Journalism must not be sacrificed for the sake of personal interests, commentators admonish.
A publisher's act of revenge
The timing and the manner of the closure show that the owner's motive is mainly personal revenge against Prime Minister Orbán, the former editor-in-chief of the daily Népszabadság, Márton Gergely, comments angrily in hvg:
“Magyar Nemzet wasn't as beholden to its owner as its employees are. Lajos Simicska has timed the end of the newspaper so as to inflict maximum damage on Viktor Orbán. He is taking this step at a time when half the world is watching Hungary, and has closed the long-standing paper in a radical manner that will ensure everyone hears about it. No more print newspaper and no more online version. After his break with Orbán his resentment prompted him merely to write 'Orbán is a sperm' on a few posters. When his act of revenge failed he closed down a media that had tried to take a more nuanced view of the world.”
Only true independence can ensure survival
Only truly independent media have a future in Hungary, journalist Dávid Sajó explains in Index:
“In today's Hungary the only media that can survive are those that can stand on their own two feet and survive on politically independent advertising, support and subscriptions, and which aim to serve their readers and viewers rather than being used by their owners to further their own personal goals. Whether we like it or not, all these subservient rags will sooner or later suffer the same fate as Simicska's Magyar Nemzet. When owners finance such media mainly to further their own personal interests, they won't have any qualms about closing them down suddenly as soon as their interests change.”