Outlets Strive For Independence In Hungary, Where Most Media Back The Government

A handful of news websites are struggling to change the narrative from the dominating, pro-government media conglomerate one analyst calls a "centralized propaganda machine."
Journalists Ervin Guth (left) and Ferenc Timmerfroh work out of a small office in downtown Pecs, a city in southern Hungary. They and colleague Attila Babos started the independent news site Szabad Pecs (Free Pecs) after the local newspaper where they worked was purchased by a pro-government media company. Source: Joanna Kakissis for NPR

Just three years ago, the daily Dunantuli Naplo was considered a reliable source of news in southern Hungary wine country.

Its name means Trans-Danube Journal. Based in Pecs, a cobblestoned university city that once thrived on coal mining, the newspaper's journalists were known for digging into important local issues and holding politicians accountable.

"We pushed back when politicians tried to interfere in our work," says Ferenc Nimmerfroh, a bearded 45-year-old dad of three, who worked there for more than two decades. "We took really reporting seriously and tried not to take sides.

Then, in 2016, there was a series of ownership changes at , where Nimmerfroh was the managing editor. The new owners of the publisher Mediaworks considered close to Hungary's nationalist prime minister, Viktor Orban. When Mediaworks has bought shares

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