With foreign owners leaving the market, Central European oligarchs are buying whatever they can get their hands on. The region is an object lesson in how vested interests can create a quasi-media monopoly on information.
Journalism is in a serious crisis. Nevertheless, alternative left-wing media are still out there in Europe, providing quality news and analysis with financial backing not from oligarchs or big business but from their readers. An exchange between the makers of merce.hu (Hungary), republik.ch (Switzerland), oko.press (Poland), and taz.de (Germany).
While the European Commission is supporting restrictive measures to tackle the spread of false news online, independent and critical media are being left to survive on their own in the face of hostility.
Media pluralism has suffered another major blow in Hungary. Magyar Nemzet, a newspaper that represented a brand of conservatism that was still able to critically evaluate the governing of Viktor Orbán, was shut down following the Prime Minister’s most recent election victory.
Digital, online and social-media avenues undoubtedly offer an alternative or complementary channel for news, because of the inherent difficulty in censoring these spaces. Their wide reach and levels of engagement have saved lives during disasters or emergencies.
Viktor Orbán and his closest allies have taken control of most of the Hungarian media. Journalists at loyal outlets are expected to closely follow instructions from the state apparatus; in exchange, they receive advertising money from government institutions.