This year's Reuters Institute Digital News Report provides evidence that much of the public is turning away from important stories such as the pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the cost-of-living crisis. Eva Bognar, Senior Program Officer and Researcher of the CEU Democracy Institute’s Center for Media, Data and Society wrote the chapter on Hungary.
The report, based on an online survey of 93,432 people in 46 countries, documents ways in which the connection between journalism and much of the public may be fraying.
While the majority of people, across countries, remain engaged and use the news regularly, many others are choosing to limit their exposure to certain types of news. Trust in news has fallen in almost half the countries in the survey, and risen in just seven, partly reversing the gains made at the pandemic. A theme that runs through this year’s report is the difficulty in engaging younger users with news. The report also finds that these young ‘social natives’ have been switching allegiance away from Facebook towards visual networks like Instagram and TikTok, where entertainment and social influencers play a bigger role.
The chapter on Hungary was written by Eva Bognar, Senior Program Officer and Researcher of the CEU Democracy Institute’s Center for Media, Data and Society. It shows that as in the previous years, HVG and RTL Klub remain the most trusted news brands, with Telex ranked third. The public television is one of the least trusted brands.
Interestingly, TV as a news source in Hungary dropped and was overtaken by social media. Yet among the traditional media outlets, RTL Klub was used by far by the most respondents for news in the week of the survey, followed by TV2 and ATV. The public television used to rank fourth, but now Retro Radio, Hir TV and Radio 1 have all been used by more people. HVG is the highest print media outlet on the list, ranked eighth. Online, Index was the most used news source in the survey, followed by 24.hu, 444 and Origo.
The owner of 24.hu, Zoltan Varga (Central Media Group), was targeted by Pegasus surveillance, an illustration of the severe pressures on independent journalism, Eva Bognar points out in the summary on Hungary. She lists the Pegasus scandal, the “child protection” law and the silencing of Klubradio as the most important developments in the year. Among the positive developments, she discusses the success story of Partizan, the online television channel, which was used by 8% of the respondents in the survey, “an enormous achievement for a new, online-only channel funded solely by individual donations from supporters along with some grants.”
Just as elsewhere, trust in news fell again in Hungary, which is again one of the countries with the lowest score, with only 27% of respondents trusting the news most of them time. In a similar way, only 15% of Hungarian respondents find the media free from undue political and business influence.
"With a low trust index and a low proportion of those who think the media are not under their influence, only a fraction of Hungarian respondents think that the majority of the news media put the interests of society before their own political views. Almost half of respondents think that all or almost all media represent their own political views rather than the interests of society. People are suspicious of the media and do not see the media as independent actors. In addition to a general distrust of institutions, the direct political role attributed to the media by many members of the public, including the role of some parts of the press, is certainly an important factor in this", says Eva Bognar.
The report was widely covered in Hungarian media. The most trusted news source, HVG published a detailed summary of the report. Read it here. Telex.hu also published a summary, read it here. In addition, Media1.hu wrote an extensive report, read it here.
Learn more about report here.