By the early 1980s, it became evident that the press had gained some freedom – though ‘some freedom’ is not real freedom. The Hungarian Socialist Workers Party still exerted pressure on the media until the end of the decade, but the attitude was more relaxed and the media became more diverse. There were attempts to propagate official policies that were based on apparent lies, but the media in general were less ready to accept these fabrications. Some topics were rigorously banned, others less so, but journalists working in the state media did not need to adhere to orders any more, and the policy of editorial offices became diverse. The general public appreciated efforts to convey the truth. By contrast, after Fidesz came into power in 2010, a new semi-authoritarian regime began to take shape, and a whole new generation of journalists working for the pro-government press is now trained to create upfront deception – and there is nothing to support the view that they would try to change this situation. Tiny scraps of remaining freedom may explain this, because those who are not willing to comply and do not care much about financial gains still have a chance to find a job in the few remaining independent media outlets.
Médiakutató Autumn-Winter 2021 pp. 107-114
Censorship murders ideas
This paper analyses the sources, historical and biographical context and political significance of Freedom of the press: Views of a prisoner, an influential book in 1844 by Mihály Táncsics (1799–1884). Táncsics was a radical democratic, left-wing Hungarian writer, teacher, publisher and politician. He played an important role in the 1848 anti-Habsburg democratic revolution and as the publisher of the first peasant and worker newspapers in Hungary. The American constitutional and press system served as Táncsics’ main inspiration for the demand for unrestricted press freedom. His other sources included Enlightenment ideas (rationality, natural law and social contract theory), Hungarian progressive patriotic reformism of the early 19th century, and utopian socialism. Although Táncsics as a theorist of press freedom became rather influential, his plebeian press publishing efforts remained limited, due to low literacy rates among peasants and the slow post-feudal development of social structure in Hungary. In general, people’s Enlightenment or deep Enlightenment (as opposed to elite Enlightenment) could not take place in the country. This pattern has longue durée consequences for mediapolitics relations and the chances for democratisation in Hungary.
Médiakutató Summer 2021 pp. 91-104
Ignoring and remembering
In Balatonfüred, at the head of promenade Tagore, close to the entry of the pier, there is a strange sculpture: distressed hands turn desperately to the sky out of a wave-shaped marble-block. On the monument, a bronze memorial indicates that not very far from that sight, on May 30, 1954, a screw steamer called Pajtás crashed over. Twenty-three passangers died in the accident. This essay does not examine the conditions of the tragedy, but attempts to answer the question of why this tragic event became an integral part to the collective memory of Füred.
Médiakutató Autumn 2020 pp. 85-93
A typology of censorship in the light of a brief history of political censorship
The history of censorship is as old as the history of mankind, but Hungarian-language summaries of censorship theory and history are currently not in the mainstream of research. There are countless definitions of what exactly censorship is, but there is no uniformly accepted one. The aim of this paper is thus to place the most common form of censorship in a diachronic context, which it does by embedding it in a theoretical and historical context. Drawing on the thousands of cases included in the Green–Karolides and Jones encyclopaedias of censorship, this paper attempts to nuance the colloquial notion of censorship and to construct a typology that can help us understand when and for what reasons various types of content intended for the public were banned in the past. The study will present the main theories of censorship from Antiquity to the end of the 20th century, as well as the ways in which content restriction has been implemented in practice.
Keywords: Areopagitica, Bentham, censorship, economic censorship, freedom of the press, Gutenberg, Index Expurgatorius, Index Librorum Prohibitorium, Mill, Milton, new censorship theory, Plato, political censorship, self-censorship, Sollicita ac Provida, Tindall
Médiakutató Spring 2022 pp. 45-57