|Owner||Ringier, Szabad Sajtó|
|Editor||Károly T. Vörös|
|Founded||1956 as Népszabadság|
Népszabadság is a major left-leaning Hungarian newspaper, founded in 1956 as successor of "Szabad Nép" (The Free People), the central organ of the dissolved Hungarian Working People's Party. "Népszabadság" literally means "People's Freedom", and is a reference to the paper's communist roots: it was the mouthpiece of the communist Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party until 1989 and is often considered as supportive to the present Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP). In 1989, Népszabadság broke away from the HSWP and became independent.
The current editor-in-chief is Károly T. Vörös. The paper has its main office in Budapest. In 2004, the newspaper secured sufficient funds to build an entirely new, high capacity, full color printing facilities for its own exclusive use, which is rare for the Hungarian press. The colorification was meant to preserve the Népszabadság's uncontested number one position among daily newspapers. It has more copies circulated than all of its Hungarian competitors combined, although circulation is declining quickly (see below).
The paper is close to the MSZP and Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) parties and its editorials often supported, though with frequency also criticized the former socialist-liberal government. Its editorials sometimes speak out against the conservative Fidesz party. On international agenda it is usually supportive of the EU and US policies, rare criticism includes U.S. President George W. Bush's "democracy export" initiative. Népszabadság follows the US in calling certain countries rogue states or part of the axis of evil and is somewhat critical of Arab countries, both on political and human rights grounds. Népszabadság supports a cautiously pragmatical approach to relations with Vladimir Putin's Russia, based on realities of the Hungarian and EU energy import structure.
Népszabadság has had the largest circulation up until very recently, but has been overtaken by Blikk, a tabloid newspaper and Metropol, the free newspaper. As most political daily newspapers worldwide (in developed countries and also in Hungary), the circulation of Népszabadság is declining. The following circulation numbers are based on audited data:
- 1994: 300 thousand
- 2002: 195 thousand
- 2009: 85 thousand
- 2010: 70 thousand
- 2011: 63 thousand
These numbers are given by the Hungarian Audit Bureau (Matesz) at http://www.matesz.hu/data/#mainpart_2.
In 2003, Népszabadság was subject to a high profile scandal for the paper had published a letter on the front page allegedly from Edward Teller. The letter, later proved to be a fake, pretended to be from the Hungarian-born physicist appeared in Népszabadság shortly after his death, claiming to express dissatisfaction with antisemitism and anti-US sentiments in the opposition Fidesz party. The letter turned out to be fabricated by the retired journalist László Zeley, Teller's Hungarian editor. Then editor-in-chief of Népszabadság, Pál Eötvös refused to resign under pressure and later became the president of The Association of Hungarian Journalists (MÚOSZ).
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Another scandal occurred in October 2007, when Népszabadság Online reported in a rather unprofessionally worded piece of breaking news the sudden death of Mr. Gyula Horn, the country's ex-premier and a veteran leader of the Hungarian socialists. Minutes later the editors had to recall the news item and publish a similarly silly announcement apologizing for the false news of death. It turned out that one of the deputies of the editor in chief, Mr. Ervin Tamas phoned his double on duty, Mr. Csaba Nagy, and informed him of Mr. Horn's death. Mr. Nagy, without delay ordered the editor on duty of Népszabadság Online, Mr. Oszkár Füzes to word a short news item and publish it immediately on the newspaper's site. Although Mr. Vörös also confirmed the news to Mr. Nagy, the next day, when the Hungarian media spoke of "the new Teller-story", the chief editor was quick to announce that both Tamás and Nagy offered their resignation (which was not true) and that a decision will be made after a thorough examination of the matter. The result was that Mr. Nagy "agreed to leave" the paper. Insiders insist that the scandal helped Mr. Vörös to get rid of one of his rivals at the paper. A couple of months later Mr. Füzes also left Népszabadság, to become Hungary's ambassador in Bucharest, Romania.
- (Hungarian) The history and ownership of Népszabadság
- (Hungarian) Collection of examples at a website on antisemitism Note that this website calls those views "antisemitism" that are critical of the politics of Israel.
- (Hungarian) Teller-letter scandal