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Judit Szakacs, Eva Bognar: Digital News Report - Hungary

This year’s Reuters Institute Digital News Report provides evidence that news audiences are becoming more dependent on digital and social platforms. Our researchers, Judit Szakacs and Eva Bognar wrote the chapter on Hungary.

With interest and trust in news still falling in many countries, economic downturn put further pressure on news business models, the report reveals. It documents how video-based content, distributed via networks such as TikTok, Instagram and YouTube are becoming more important for news, especially in parts of the Global South, while legacy platforms such as Facebook are losing influence.

Both interest and trust in news continue to fall in many countries as the connection between journalism and much of the public continues to fray. There is evidence that audiences continue to selectively avoid important stories such as the war in Ukraine and the cost-of-living crisis as they cut back on depressing news and look to protect their mental health.

The chapter on Hungary, notes that 2022 was a turbulent year in the Hungarian media market. Following another landslide victory of Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party in April, many media outlets introduced cost-cutting measures, including downsizing and ceasing print publication. Social media seemed to gain in importance for the ruling party’s media strategy, with conservative social media incubator Megafon Center pushing the government’s narratives to Hungarian Facebook users’ feeds.

Additionally, following revelations that the opposition had received campaign funds from abroad, government politicians, the pro-government media, and influencers launched smear campaigns against independent media outlets that have received foreign funding, labelling them as “dollar media.”

Reporting on Russia’s war in Ukraine has been controversial, with many seeing Hungary as “the EU capital of Russian disinformation.” With public discussions of the “dollar media” and Russian disinformation, it is not surprising that trust in news has decreased to just 25%. Hungary now ranks 45th out of the 46 countries in the Digital News Report.

Learn more about the report here.

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