|Owner(s)||Bertelsmann, Szabad Sajtó|
Népszabadság is a major left-leaning Hungarian newspaper. "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.
History and profile
Népszabadság was founded in November 1956 as successor of Szabad Nép (meaning The Free People in English) which was established in 1942 the central organ of the dissolved Hungarian Working People's Party. Népszabadság was also the organ of the party.
At the beginning of the 1990s, following the collapse of the communist regime, the paper was privatized and the owners were Bertelsmann AG Germany (50%), the Free Press Foundation (Szabad Sajtó Alapítvány in Hunagrian; foundation of the Socialist Party, MSZP) (26%), the First Hungarian Investment Fund (16.8%), and the Editorial Staff Association (6%).
The current editor-in-chief is Marcell Murányi who was appointed to the post in July 2014. The paper is published in broadsheet format and 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 had the largest circulation up until 2002 when it was 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 number of its readers significantly reduced in the period between 2005 and 2010.
The following circulation numbers are based on audited data:
- 1989: 460 thousand
- 1991: 327 thousand
- 1993: 305 thousand
- 1994: 300 thousand
- 1995: 285 thousand
- 1998: 225 thousand
- 2000: 203 thousand
- 2002: 195 thousand
- 2003: 172 thousand
- 2009: 99,446
- 2010: 70 thousand
- 2011: 63 thousand
- 2013: 46 thousand
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).
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (January 2011)|
Another scandal occurred in October 2007, when Népszabadság Online reported in a rather unprofessionally worded piece of breaking news the sudden death of 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, Ervin Tamas phoned his double on duty, Csaba Nagy, and informed him of Horn's death. Nagy, without delay ordered the editor on duty of Népszabadság Online, Oszkár Füzes to word a short news item and publish it immediately on the newspaper's site. Although Vörös also confirmed the news to 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 Nagy "agreed to leave" the paper. Insiders insist that the scandal helped Vörös to get rid of one of his rivals at the paper. A couple of months later Füzes also left Népszabadság, to become Hungary's ambassador in Bucharest, Romania.
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- (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.
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- (Hungarian) Teller-letter scandal