Press Freedom Index 2013

Through our research we sought to attain a comprehensive picture of how and whether the press in Hungary is free and how the Hungarian media work. Though the questions we asked journalists and media managers were of a professional nature, the general public was asked to respond to questions that did not require any specialised professional knowledge or journalistic experience. Correspondingly, the last category of respondents was given the lowest number of questions.

For the survey of the general public, answers were collected from a representative sample of the population, while this was not the case for journalists and media managers. Data collection for journalists was performed by Mertek Media Monitor; the research on media managers was conducted by the Publicus Institute; and the survey of the general public was undertaken by Medián Opinion & Market Research Ltd. The popular survey was conducted in July 2013 based on a representative sample of 1,200 persons. The research on the opinions of media managers took place in November 2013, and in all 46 managers responded to our questions.

Since we wanted to reach the widest possible range of journalists, we sent our online questionnaire to print and online press outlets as well radio stations, television channels and public service media. We also strove to make sure that left- and right-wing media outlets both be represented in our survey. As we basically wanted to cover media involved in covering public affairs news, the tabloid press was not included in the sample. Respondents submitted their answers anonymously, hence we do not know the response rates of individual media outlets. The online questionnaires were filled out by 192 journalists. Fifty-six percent of respondents in the category of “journalists” worked in an eponymous position, 41% were editors, 0.5% were managers and 2% were owners. Almost three-fourths of respondents (72%) live in Budapest,12% reside in county seats and another 12% in rural towns. The overwhelming of persons in the sample (90%) have a tertiary education degree. A plurality (41%) work in online media, 33% of them work for print publications, 11% in commercial television or radio and 2% in public service television. Responses to the questionnaire were collected in October 2013. The response rate is indicative in itself, since it appears that journalists in the print and online press are more open to attitude research than journalists working in television and radio.

We used a weighted to numerically present the evolution of numbers. Based on the method used by the weighted index, we recorded a score of -100 when we received a response of “not at all important”, a score of -50 when the answer was “not important”, and +50 and +100 for responses of “important” and “very important”, respectively. Where we inquired about change over time, “deterioration” was rated -100, no change was given a score of 0 and improvement was worth +100 points.

We divided our general analysis into several topics and each chapter surveys one such subject matter. Each chapter contains a review of how the answers of the individual groups evolved and a concluding analysis at the end wherein we compare the answers received from all groups.

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Mertek Media Monitor has undertaken to survey and assess how the state of press freedom has developed in Hungary. We first compiled a press freedom index in 2012, which was based on the results of three research projects that were implemented simultaneously. In these projects we examined three populations: journalists, media managers (media owners, the managers of media corporations and the managements of media corporations), and – through a representative sample of the general public – we also surveyed the public’s perceptions concerning press freedom. In our research we sought to find out how the three groups assess the state of press freedom, the way the domestic media operates, the nature of political and economic pressure on the press, as well as the social standing and role of the journalistic profession and the phenomenon of self-censorship.

We ran the research again on all three groups in 2013. The following is a comparative analysis of the data compiled in 2012 and 2013. The detailed analysis of the research on media managers was performed by the Publicus Institute, and the observations in our analysis about managers are based on Publicus’ work in that context.

Press Freedom Index 2013