You are on page 1of 20

FIRST INTERNATIONAL EUROSPHERE CONFERENCE

University of Osnabrück - November 2009

Framing of diversity and the EU by the Hungarian print


media (draft)
Beáta Huszka
Central European University, Budapest

Introduction
Based on the analysis of the Hungarian print media as was carried out within the
frames of Eurosphere research, the paper will explore how the selected print media actors
frame issues of diversity and the EU, and how their adopted discourse on diversity and the EU
influence each other. However, instead of addressing the question to what extent diversity is a
constitutive element of the EPS, or what does diversity imply for the development of EPS
infrastructures it will be asked how media actors’ adopted notion of diversity influences their
concept and preferences on the EU and vice versa. The newspapers’ approach to the EPS will
thus not be tackled directly as during the interviews all the respondents denied the EPS
existed and most of them did not consider the creation of EPS as something desirable.
Nonetheless, the dailies’ way of discussing issues related to the EU, their preferences on the
EU polity, European integration, enlargement, citizenship, free movement and political rights
reveal a lot about how much they view themselves and Hungary in general as part of a larger
entity i.e. the EU, and to what extent they live in an ‘us versus them’ dichotomy viewing the
EU as an external patron.

The paper attempts to deconstruct the discursive schemas followed by the three
newspapers, i.e. how the ideas they advocate on diversity and the EU relate to their general
position in the wider Hungarian political scene structured along the left and right continuum.
It will be argued that the dailies’ political stance shapes fundamentally the way they frame
issues related to diversity and the EU, often locking them into particular discursive patterns
which can hardly be broken. Thus the Hungarian media reflects the highly polarized political
realities of Hungary, Népszabadság being on the left, Magyar Nemzet on the right, while Blikk
carrying a politically neutral line. This latter point is supported by the fact that research
findings based on the media content analysis and the interviews with leading journalists often
contradict each other. This implies that influential journalists follow established framing
patterns while presenting issues of diversity and the EU that sometimes run against their own
opinion and preferences, or at least contradict their adopted notion of political correctness as
manifested during the interviews. Thus the paper aims to reveal these contradictions and
uncover the discursive schemas which dictate the media actors’ way of presenting diversity
and the EU, also reflecting on in what way ideas on these two issue areas are interrelated. As
the EU is setting a clear political agenda advocating equal chances for the Roma, gays, the
disabled and other vulnerable groups, attitudes towards the EU could potentially influence
media actors’ normative approach to diversity. Similarly, the mode of action could work the
other way around as well, as attitudes on social and ethnic differences could influence to what
extent values associated with the EU are shared and accepted. This paper will demonstrate,
however, that the dominant mode of action is the latter i.e. the newspapers’ view on diversity
which is directly determined by their ideological position influences fundamentally their
attitude towards the EU, (including the EU polity, European integration, enlargement,
citizenship, free movement and political rights).
Political dailies in Hungary are highly politicized usually displaying some sort of
political bias. Conflicts around the media, however, reflect deeper social/political/ideological
divides within Hungarian society splitting the population along urban-rural, liberal-
conservative, nationalist-cosmopolitan lines. These conflicting ideological currents which
dominate Hungary’s public sphere determine the media’s views on diversity, the EU and the
EPS. The two mainstream political discourses are the conservative-right and the leftist-liberal
discourse, each representing a dominant ideological frame which underlie media actors’ views
on diversity, the EU, citizenship, political rights, enlargement, migration, and the EPS. The
aim of this paper is to deconstruct these ideological frames and to show how their inherent
logic determines media framing of the issues in question. First, however, the so called media
wars will be introduced here briefly, which were manifestations of these deeper ideological
divisions and represented cultural wars between these two conflicting value systems.1

Hungarian media trapped by politics


Since transition had begun in Hungary in 1989, due to the weak advertising market
and poor performance of the Hungarian economy, quality newspapers could not sustain
themselves solely from sales and advertising and often had to rely on direct of indirect state
subsidies. This automatically made them politically vulnerable, as they had to show loyalty
towards their supporters which prevented the true diversity of views to be represented in the
daily press. In addition, the weak institutional system of media regulation in Hungary greatly
reduced media freedom and facilitated ways of political pressure on the media.2 The set up of
ORTT, the National Radio and Television Commission in 1996 was too late and its regulatory
mechanisms to guarantee editorial and financial autonomy were inadequate. In addition, in the
absence of a regulated press subsidies scheme, daily press became financially dependent on
the parties through informal and formal means. Thus, the belated establishment of media
regulatory institutions and their weak design allowed political parties to exert serious political
pressure on both print and broadcast media in Hungary ever since the end of communism.3
Although control over the electronic media became one of the main battlefields of
politicians after transition in Hungary, the print media was also subject of political infighting.
For this reason, the literature talks about media wars, which began in 1990 and lasted for
more than a decade, until 2002.4 According to the conservative critique of Hungarian media,
at the beginning of transition leftist/liberal groups came to dominate dailies. As a response,
right wing governments repeatedly tried to intervene into the print media market through
financially supporting conservative outlets, such as the political daily Magyar Nemzet and the
weekly Heti Válasz.5 In fact, right after transition the first conservative government faced a
mostly liberal journalist community, which did not want to give up its professional
autonomy.6 This prompted the first media war launched by the conservative government of
Antall-Boross (1990-1994) by its attempt to replace the leadership of the Hungarian state
television and radio. The subsequent socialist government of Gyula Horn (1994-1998) took
revenge and restructured the broadcast and print media market. The second media war

1
Monori, Áron, “Médiaháborúk,” 259., Bajomi-Lázár, Péter, Magyar Médiatörténet a késő Kádár-kortól az
ezredfordulóig, Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, 2005, 288.
2
Bajomi-Lázár, Péter, “Freedom of Media in Hungary, 1990-2002,” 1 PhD thesis, Political Science Department
at the Central European University, Budapest, June 2003,88.
3
Bajomi-Lázár, Péter, “Freedom of Media in Hungary, 1990-2002,” 187.
4
Monori, Áron, “Médiaháborúk,” 259.
5
Polyák, Gábor and Gálik, Mihály. 2005. Médiaszabályozás. KJK-Kerszöv Jogi és Üzleti Kiadó Kft, Budapest,
426.
6
Monori, Áron, “Médiaháborúk,” 261.
happened under Viktor Orbán’s right wing government (1998-2002) characterized by a
conservative backlash on the media scene triggered by the government. Although the 2002
elections brought back a socialist government, the media war did not continue, probably
because it became somewhat overshadowed by the “hysteric” election campaign of 2002. It
can also be mentioned that by this time new commercial channels appeared on the scene
representing leftist and right-wing political camps such as ATV and HírTv respectively,
somewhat easing the political pressure on public television.7
Owing to frequent political interferences, electronic public media, Hungarian
Television and Radio had had a strong pro-government bias during the entire period, even if
with a varying intensity. Although in 2002 the media wars came to an end, the practice of
exerting political pressure on the media did not disappear but remained an important media
policy tool. The various governments exerted their political influence through interfering into
the media ownership structure, through the distribution of media resources and through the
removal and nomination of chief editors and managers, thereby seriously infringing upon
media freedom.8

Media Actors
The political dailies market is basically dominated by two newspapers, Népszabadság
and Magyar Nemzet, both of which were selected into the sample of this study. Népszabadság
is center-left leaning, having a socialist political orientation;9 (according to some it should be
rather characterized as left/liberal10). It is more than twice as popular as the conservative
Magyar Nemzet, which is the biggest circulation conservative newspaper with 60,000 daily
sales. Although according to its style, Magyar Nemzet is more radical in a political sense than
Népszabadság, it can be still placed in the political center if it is compared to some other
right-wing newspapers, such as Magyar Fórum or Demokrata (although the latter are
weeklies).11 Besides Népszabadság and Magyar Nemzet, there are two more national political
dailies published in Hungary, Népszava and Magyar Hírlap. It should be stressed, however,
that the latter two papers can be considered as less significant due to their law circulation
numbers. Blikk, the third selected media actor in our sample is the most popular newspaper in
Hungary, which is an apolitical tabloid media outlet. It sells more issues than Népszabadság
and Magyar Nemzet together.

Magyar Nemzet representing right wing ideology calls itself the “civic daily” on its
front page, which is a hint at the newspaper’s conservative profile and an indication of its
common political ground with FIDESZ, the biggest right wing opposition party. FIDESZ
monopolized the term “civic” as it frequently stresses “civic values” and even has the term
“civic” in its name (FIDESZ Hungarian Civic Party).12 The newspaper’s name Magyar
Nemzet means Hungarian Nation. Magyar Nemzet’s main target audience is middle aged,
conservative, middle class people, mostly from Budapest and the surrounding area.13 It has
strong ties with the right wing private broadcaster Hír TV, since the owner and chief editor of

7
Monori, Áron, “Médiaháborúk,” 259.
8
Bajomi-Lázár, Péter, 95-104.
9
Gálik, Mihály, “A médiatulajdon hatása a média függetlenségére és pluralizmusára Magyarországon,”
Médiakutató, 2004 ősz, 7.
10
Bajomi Lázár, Péter, “Press Freedom in Hungary, 1998-2002,” 86., Sükösd, Miklós and Bajomi Lázár, Péter
(ed.), Reinventing Media, CEU Press 2003.
11
Circulation numbers in this section were gathered from the website of MATESZ, covering the first quarter of
2008. www.matesz.hu.
12
Website of Magyar Nemzet, www.mno.hu.
13
http://www.mno.hu/portal/forum.
the newspaper and the director of the TV broadcaster is the same person, Gábor Liszkay.14 It
also cooperates with Duna Television and Lánchíd Radio. The newspaper has an opposing
stand to cultural and economic globalization, shows great sensitivity towards Hungarian
farmers, generally condemns US-Israeli military activities, and supports Palestinian self-
determination. The newspaper is also accused of latent anti-Semitism due to its general
criticism of Israel.

Népszabadság, the second daily in our sample, is leftist-liberal in its value-orientation,


and is committed to the nation as a cultural community, as its chief editor described the
newspaper.15 The daily is proud of its objective, critical, up to date and open-minded way of
informing the public. It claims to be politically independent and guided by the principles of
media freedom. Its self-proclaimed aim is to provide credible information, balanced opinions,
and to represent free market values and social justice at the same time. The newspaper also
states on its website that the promotion of Hungarian culture and identity belongs to its
mission.16 Although in principle it targets the general public, it still represents the voice of the
left-liberal political group. It should be also noted that the Free Press Foundation affiliated
with the Hungarian Socialist Party is a minority owner of the newspaper, which raises
questions about the newspaper’s political independence and its ability to stay without any
political bias.
Blikk, the third newspaper in our selection, is a market leader not only in the tabloid
press but also on the Hungarian dailies’ market as was noted above. As a tabloid newspaper
its main profile is entertainment, thus it focuses mostly on celebrities, scandals, tragedies,
curiosities and sports. Its best sales results can be associated with certain events that attracted
a lot of attention in Hungary, such as the death of Jimmy Zambo, a Hungarian pop singer in
2001, and the launch of reality shows in 2002, which Blikk followed closely. Visual elements
dominate the layout of the newspaper: big colored photos and info graphics; Blikk was the
first daily to publish naked women on its front page. Its rather brief and superficial political
news coverage is without any political bias. Blikk intentionally aspires to be politically neutral
as was revealed from the interviews.17

This paper argues fundamentally that the main point of reference around which
particular ideological stances are articulated by the Hungarian print media is Hungarian
history, specifically the Treaty of Trianon concluded in 1920 closing WWI for Hungary, as a
result the state lost more than two thirds of its previous territory. Although the majority of the
population which was left outside of the Hungarian borders was non Hungarian ethnically,
still 3.3 million ethnic Hungarians became foreign citizens and minorities in the neighboring
countries. This explains the Hungarian public’s high sensitivity to the issue of minorities
owing to this special historical legacy: Hungary due to its territorial losses after WWI has
today 2.5 million co-ethnics living in the surrounding countries. This paper essentially
maintains that media actors’ attitude towards this neuralgic point of national history and more
generally towards national identity shapes their specific views on diversity, which further
influences their approach to questions such as citizenship, free movement, political rights,
enlargement and the EU.

14
Juhász, Gábor, “Nyomtatott Sajtó,” In Magyar Médiatörténet a késő Kádár-kortól az ezredfordulóig edited by
Bajomi-Lázár, Péter. Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, 2005. 130.
15
Interview with Vörös T., Károly, chief editor by Hudecz, Bálint and Erdélyi, Flóra 2 November 2007.
16
www.nol.hu.
17
Interview with Blikk1. Personal interviews were conducted with the representatives of the selected actors in
the period between September 2008 and July 2009, using a structured questionnaire.
It should be emphasized that Hungarian media, regardless of the particular actors’
specific political preferences, show a lot of interest in diversity issues, especially to their
ethnic and national minority aspect. Hungarian citizens are naturally interested in the situation
of these minorities not only due to personal ties but also because ethnic Hungarians at certain
times faced repression from the neighbor countries’ governments. Moreover, relations
between the Hungarian minority and the majority in the neighbor countries are often marked
by serious tensions even today. For this reason, Hungarians are interested in minority issues,
not only in the neighborhood, but also in general, which is matched by great media attention
to the subject. The question of diversity is mostly constrained in Hungarian media to ethno-
cultural diversity, which has an external dimension meaning Hungarian minorities abroad, and
an internal dimension, which includes the Roma. In addition, gender and sexual minority
issues also receive some media attention; however, their coverage is negligible as compared
to the topics of ethno-national diversity.
At the same time, while all media actors focus a lot on both dimensions of diversity,
their particular preferences differ greatly according to their ideological stance. First the
ideological frame of the political right will be elaborated in detail as presented by the daily
Magyar Nemzet.

The right wing ideological frame


Diversity
The right wing media is the most concerned about the survival of the nation and
national identity in general. Magyar Nemzet laments the consequences of the Trianon Treaty
and without being openly irredentist would like to see the reunification of all lands inhabited
by ethnic Hungarians. It presents the pre-WWII Horthy era (that led Hungary into alliance
with the Nazis) with sympathy and has a strong anti-communist attitude, which manifests in
articles recalling and condemning the communist times. From Magyar Nemzet’s point of
view, the present division of Hungarian communities is an anomaly the consequences of
which have to be alleviated somehow. According to the newspaper, Trianon is the biggest
tragedy of the nation, which naturally implies that the nation is constituted by co-ethnics
including those living over the borders not only of citizens. Therefore, the newspaper shows a
great interest in Hungarian minorities abroad, reflected by a high frequency of articles
published about them and by voicing their perspective on various issues. It often reports on
what it sees as injustices these minorities have to suffer in their home countries emphasizing
the violation of their minority rights.
The theme of diversity institutions emerges usually also in connection to
Hungarian minorities abroad, as the newspaper often gives voice to their demands for
autonomy, language and educational rights. Magyar Nemzet is also in favor of granting
collective rights to minorities, including territorial autonomy. In their view, if a minority
reaches a certain size it should receive collective rights from the state.18 According to the
newspaper, minorities are entitled to cultural and political institutions and political
representation, and they should be allowed to form their own parties if they wish to do so.19
Reflecting their concern over Hungary setting a bad precedent which can backfire on
Hungarian minorities abroad, the journalists interviewed by Eurosphere expressed their
disapproval over the present situation in Hungary, where parliamentary representation of
minorities remains unresolved as of today.20

18
Interview with Mn1; Interview with Mn2; Interview with Mn3.
19
Interview with Mn1; Interview with Mn2, Budapest; Interview with Mn3.
20
Interview with Mn1.
Besides Hungarian minorities abroad, Roma, sexual minorities and large families are
the most relevant groups defining diversity in Hungary according to the newspaper. While
Magyar Nemzet can be regarded as pro-diversity when it comes to Hungarian minorities
abroad, this is not so much the case if the Roma, Jewish or sexual minorities are the subject of
discussion. The newspaper tends to present the Roma in a negative light, occasionally
publishing quite extreme opinions about them, drawing attention to their alleged civilizational
and cultural deficit.21 The Roma are usually portrayed as instigators of crime and social
tensions. For instance, the initiative of three local mayors to condition social aid on
participation in public work (which is against constitutional provisions) was also presented by
the newspaper in a favorable light. This initiative clearly had an anti-Roma dimension as
Roma are disproportionately represented among those that receive social aid and are
unemployed. Consequently, the ombudsman for minorities protested against the initiative and
called it an example of “salon-racism”. However, at other times the paper can treat the issue
of the Roma with great understanding, especially if this provides an opportunity to bash the
present left-wing government. For instance, Magyar Nemzet portrayed the mass emigration of
Hungarian Roma families to Sweden with a lot of empathy, blaming the government for its
failed social policy.22
The newspaper’s critical stand towards domestic diversity can be captured by its
obvious sympathy for radical organizations that have an anti-Roma, anti-Semitic profile such
as Hungarian Guard and Goy Motorgang (Gój Motorosok). The Hungarian Guard has an
intimidating effect on minorities due to its militaristic and extreme right image, as it uses
symbols resembling those used by the Hungarian Nazis. Yet, Magyar Nemzet usually presents
the Hungarian Guard as a defender of public order and Hungarian values.23
The newspaper’s way of portraying events surrounding the 2008 gay parade in
Budapest that was attacked by radical rightwing groups was also indicative of the
newspaper’s anti-diversity attitude. Magyar Nemzet was in a difficult position, since it had to
condemn the violence committed by people it usually sympathizes with, that is, radical right
wing groups. At the same time, since homosexuality goes against the conservative-Christian
values of Magyar Nemzet, it had to denounce the violence without presenting gay victims too
favorably, and without condemning the extremist right wing movement on the whole.
Although the broadsheet did not show right wing gangs in a positive light at all, at the same
time it emphasized the obscene and anti-Christian character of the parade. The reports about
the parade thus implicitly suggested that the participants themselves were responsible for the
violence since they provoked it. The newspaper stressed the “tasteless”, provocative style of
the gay parade, and regarded it being fundamentally a show and a demonstration against the
political right and the church.24 Moreover, it essentially put the blame on the government
which allegedly created the climate of violence in October 2006 when the police attacked
innocent rightwing protestors.25
Interestingly, the newspaper’s views revealed about the Roma during the interviews
did not fall in line with the opinions drawn from the content analysis. Whenever the Roma are
discussed in an article, they are almost always presented in negative light. Yet, the journalists
interviewed within the frames of Eurosphere research showed great sensitivity towards
problems of the Roma. They stressed that the Roma pose the greatest social problem in
21
Ligeti, György, “Kisebbségek és bevándorlók a médiában,” Médiakutató, 2007 ősz, 6.
22
Ligeti, György, “Kisebbségek és bevándorlók a médiában,” 6.
23
For instance see: “Együttélési szabályzat Faddon,” Magyar Nemzet, 23. 06. 2008.
24
“Nem tiltják az obszcén viselkedést,” Magyar Nemzet, 02. 07. 2008.
25
Krisztina Morvai, “Vajon ki a felelős?”, Magyar Nemzet, 07. 08. 2008. It belongs to the truth that violent
protests started in Hungary a month earlier, in September 2006, when right wing groups raided the building of
Hungarian Television and set cars on fire. That time the police failed to react as it was probably unprepared for
such turn of events, which never happened in Hungary before since transition.
today’s Hungary, receiving only superficial treatment instead of a real cure from the political
establishment.26 “I write a lot about such questions, because I think that the Roma issue is
Hungary’s most pressing social question and we have to look for a solution,” one of the
journalists emphasized. He argued that the social integration of the Roma is the most
important social task today in Hungary. The newspapers’ radical, anti-Roma views did not
manifest at all during the interviews. The reason might be that the interview questions convey
a politically correct language, which is instantly picked up by the respondents as they
automatically feel compelled to adjust their rhetoric accordingly. The assumption that the
questionnaire itself induces “pro-diversity answers” is supported by the apparent contrast
between the political correctness displayed during the interviews and the articles written by
the same journalists.
In general, the discourse of the political right is characterized by the propensity to
radicalism and extremism which is in contrast to the moderate and subtle style of the leftist-
liberal rhetoric regardless of its content. The newspaper tends to take a highly confrontative
attitude towards the current socialist government. Although its critical stance could be
regarded as a positive value in a democratic society, its credibility is often undermined by its
approach, characterized by its inclination to assume a conspiracy behind each and every
political step and social-economic phenomenon somehow associated with the left-liberal
political side.27
On the whole, this radical feature of the discourse was absent during the interviews
due to the respondents’ adjustment to the questionnaire’s politically correct line, yet there
were a few instances when it was discernible. As a journalist reasoned when asked about
migration, no one should be let into the country since Hungarian culture is in danger.
Strangers should not be allowed to immigrate due to the need to preserve Hungarian identity.
Even ethnic Hungarians from abroad should be kept out since he does not want to wake up
one they realizing that there are no more Hungarians living over the Trianon borders. This
would be dangerous for security reasons, as Hungary is surrounded by an anti-Hungarian
sphere. Moreover, the revision of Trianon should not be given up. According to him, Izrael is
a good example in that respect since it was restored after 2000 years. In order to restore
historical Hungary, the Hungarian communities living abroad should be preserved otherwise
there is a danger that we will disappear from world history. He supported ethnic Hungarians’
individual immigration, yet not of whole communities. In his opinion, Hungary should behave
in a way so that Hungarian minorities abroad stay in their homeland. Therefore, increased
pressure on neighboring countries’ governments is the proper policy.28

The EU
In line with this right wing ideology which emphasizes the need to protect national
identity, Magyar Nemzet prefers a less centralized federal EU that guarantees the sovereignty
of member states and allows for a more effective assertion of national interests.29 According
to the respondents, the EU should develop further in a federal direction since at the moment it
is overregulated and over-bureaucratic. Only some issue areas such as the protection of
human and minority rights, certain traffic rules and administrative standards should be
regulated at the EU level, and also foreign policy.30 As one of the respondents suggested, the

26
Interview with Mn1.
27
Ligeti, György, “Kisebbségek és bevándorlók a médiában,” Médiakutató, 2007 ősz, 6.
28
Interview with Mn1.
29
Interview with Mn1; Interview with Mn2; Interview with Mn3.
30
Interview with Mn2.
EU should be viewed as a possibility to be approached in the Polish way meaning that
Hungary should more effectively assert its interests in the EU, similarly to Poland.31
Magyar Nemzet usually does not show the EU in a bad light. Even if it is critical of an
EU policy, it generally blames the Hungarian government for having failed to implement the
necessary measures to prevent the bad effects of this policy.32 It should be mentioned,
however, that radical anti-EU views can also appear on the broadsheet’s pages. An opinion
piece written by a well known rightwing journalist for instance compared the EU to the Soviet
Gulag system, arguing that both were built on lies and the deception of people.33 Another
editorial expressed sympathy with Irish voters who understandably said no to an over-
bureaucratized, overcomplicated and inhuman creature (the EU), which incidentally would
become even more hateful after the reform process.34 Such emotionally loaded and radical
Euroscepticism would hardly be tolerated even in an opinion piece by Népszabadság that, on
occasion, also gives voice to Euroskeptic and Europessimistic views.

European integrations’ effect on diversity is also viewed from the angle of how it has
influenced the situation of Hungarian minorities abroad. Ultimately, the newspaper’s special
stance on diversity derives from the agenda of reuniting the nation, which also defines its
preferences on citizenship, political rights, the free movement of people and enlargement. In
the opinion of the journalists of Magyar Nemzet, European integration has had mixed effects
on diversity. Although the situation of minorities has become better, however, the example of
Slovakia shows that the EU is not strong enough to handle conflicts between states, which
concern minorities. At the same time, they view EU integration and enlargement positively
partially because Hungary’s neighbors have come under pressure to meet EU standards
concerning their treatment of minorities. In addition, European integration has enabled
Hungarian minorities abroad to better assert their interests internationally, such as through
being present in the European Parliament. Moreover, the borders opened, which is an
advantage directly affecting people, especially minorities who can freely interact with their
mother country. Besides, the representation of the Gypsy community has also improved due
to EU pressure.35 During the Eurosphere interviews the journalists of Magyar Nemzet
expressed their preference for a clear and strict EU regulation in the area of minority rights,
which they see as a safeguard measure against nationalist governments. 36
As was noted above, Magyar Nemzet views Hungarian minorities living abroad as
members of the nation, thus define the nation as an ethnic community of all Hungarians. The
newspaper’s preferred view on citizenship reflects this attitude as well, since based on this
definition of the nation, all ethnic Hungarians should be granted Hungarian citizenship.37 This
special attitude towards Hungarian minorities dictates the preferences of Magyar Nemzet also
on political rights and immigration. Since Hungarian minorities are part of the nation, they
should receive preferential treatment while requesting citizenship or trying to immigrate to
Hungary.38 As was revealed from the interviews, according to Magyar Nemzet, people who

31
Interview with Mn1.
32
For instance, an article arguing that since Hungary’s EU accession, food-safety has sharply deteriorated
blamed the government for non-action in this area and not the relatively lax EU regulation. Magyar Nemzet, 27.
06. 2008.
33
Lovas, István, “Az írországi nem szavazat tanulságai”, Magyar Nemzet, 18. 06. 2008.
34
Sebeők, János, “Európa meglincselése,” Magyar Nemzet, 19. 06. 2008.
35
Interview with Mn1.
36
Interview with Mn1; Interview with Mn2; Interview with Mn3.
37
Sütő-Nagy, Zsolt, “Újra együtt: magyar állampolgárságot minden magyarnak!”, Magyar Nemzet, 25. 11.
2004; Interview with Mn1; Interview with Mn2.
38
Interview with Mn1; Interview with Mn2; Interview with Mn3.
can prove their Hungarian origin should be granted citizenship.39 Those that do not have
Hungarian roots should be treated differently, thus citizenship policy should fundamentally
differentiate between ethnic Hungarians and non-Hungarians, as opposed to drawing the line
according some other criteria such as between EU citizens or non-EU citizens. Applicants for
citizenship without Hungarian roots should be able to demonstrate that they have a real
motivation to live here, such as having a job, family ties etc. Besides, the knowledge of
Hungarian language should be an additional requirement or at least the demonstrated
aspiration to learn the language and have respect for cultural values.40
Magyar Nemzet is in favor of dual citizenship for the same reason, which in the
Hungarian context would primarily mean giving citizenship to ethnic Hungarians living as
minorities in the surrounding countries. The journalists interviewed supported the idea of
double citizenship precisely because it would be very important for Hungarian minorities, as
it would provide a kind of protection for them and would help the communities to preserve
their Hungarian identity. At the same time, they also argued that dual citizenship would not
pose a risk to Hungary since mass immigration of Hungarian minorities is not a danger
anymore, since those that wanted to immigrate have done so already.41 Moreover, it also
follows from the logic that Hungary should be able to grant preferential treatment to ethnic
Hungarians on an ethnic basis that citizenship regimes should remain fundamentally in
national jurisdiction.42

As could be expected in light of this right wing ideological frame, immigration is not
supported by Magyar Nemzet, as it can endanger Hungarian culture. Shortages in the labor
market and problems deriving from the decreasing population should be handled through
policy instruments helping families with more children.43
According to Magyar Nemzet, each member state should have the right to decide to
what extent and how it grants mobility rights to third country nationals, which is important
because of those Hungarian minorities who still live outside of the EU, i.e. in Serbia, Croatia
and the Ukraine.44 For the same reason, in the fields of migration, asylum, citizenship and
political rights, it is important that the member states retain the right to carry out national
policies, even if there are some general EU standards in effect. Having some degree of
national discretion in these policy areas is important so that the Hungarian state can privilege
Hungarian minorities.45 In the respondents’ opinion, EU citizens should enjoy all the rights of
free movement on the territory of the EU including rights to settle and work anywhere they
wish, yet some degree of national discretion should remain in this area especially regarding
third country nationals.
The journalists of Magyar Nemzet interviewed by Eurosphere had a clearly articulated,
unified view on enlargement, specifically concerning what the conditions and borders of
enlargement should be. Dictated by the newspaper’s high regard to religious values
constituting an essential part of historic and traditional Hungarian culture, the limits of
enlargement should be the borders of Western Christianity. Thus accepting Turkey should not
be considered. Yet, Serbia which does not have a Western Christian legacy, could also join if
fulfills some basic civilizational norms, such as respecting human and minority rights.46 A
country should not be allowed to join the EU if its development level does not reach a
39
Interview with Mn2.
40
Interview with Mn1.
41
Interview with Mn3.
42
Interview with Mn1.
43
Interview with Mn1.
44
Interview with Mn1, Interview with Mn2.
45
Interview with Mn1; Interview with Mn2.
46
Interview with Mn1.
sufficient level, if it does not respect human rights, mistreats its minorities, if its religious and
social system is seriously incompatible with that of the EU, such as in the case of Turkey.
Turkey should not become a member also because it is essentially an Asian country. If a
country’s laws do not fit the EU’s values, if it does not have a democratic system, such as
Belorussia or Ukraine, if its economic structure and political culture is very different from that
of the EU then should not be accepted as an EU member.47 The former Yugoslav republics
should be allowed to join, also Switzerland and Norway, which would cause no problems.
Yet, Ukraine should not be admitted since this would make the EU more vulnerable to Russia
due to the presence of the Russian minority in the Ukraine.48
Magyar Nemzet views the issue of enlargement also through the lenses of national
identity. As was noted by one of the interviewees, “Schengen is the only possibility to
demolish Trianon.”49 The removal of borders and the Schengen process is regarded by them
as one of the greatest achievements of European integration because, as a result, Hungarian
minorities have practically been reconnected to the motherland. Since the nation was ripped
apart by the Trianon Treaty in 1920, the most important national goal has been to reunite with
the lost territories. For Magyar Nemzet, the main question is to what extent EU enlargement
and EU integration helps to fulfill this aspiration. 50

Womens’ rights
Interestingly, the respondents during the interviews were clearly in favor of promoting
women’s rights whereas the left wing Népszabadság showed greater skepticism towards this
issue area. This observation begs an explanation since usually the political left picks up
feminist agendas, while the political right tends to promote women’s traditional roles within
the family. Yet, as will be explained here in the following, this positive attitude towards the
empowerment of women fits logically into the conservative ideology of Magyar Nemzet. The
newspaper laments the demographic and moral decline of the nation, at the same time, it
opposes immigration since it can endanger Hungarian culture as was noted before. Therefore,
the decreasing population trend could be counterbalanced by state policies helping families
with more children. The empowerment of women is part of this agenda. Women’s rights in
the labor market should be much better protected so that they can bear more children.
According to Magyar Nemzet, national identity and the family are important values while the
dominant media in Hungary does not endorse these conservative principles but is openly anti-
marriage and subtly anti-family.51 As one the journalists interviewed by Eurosphere argued,
large families represent an important group within the Hungarian society that does not receive
sufficient attention and care from the state. While some minorities enjoy strong legal
protection (for instance groups defined by their sexual orientation), large families are
neglected by the state.52 Although gender issues hardly appear on the newspaper’s pages, the
journalists interviewed emphasized the importance of empowering women. They regarded the
present system in Hungary discriminatory towards women, and voiced the need to improve
women’s representation in leadership positions.53 They were very supportive of the protection
of women’s rights, also at the European level.54

47
Interview with Mn2.
48
Interview with Mn3.
49
Interview with Mn1.
50
Interview with Mn1.
51
Interview with Mn1; Interview with Mn2.
52
Interview with Mn1; Interview with Mn2.
53
Interview with Mn1; Interview with Mn2.
54
Interview with Mn1; Interview with Mn2.
Discourse of the political left
As opposed to Magyar Nemzet, Népszabadság and Blikk do not grieve over the Treaty
of Trianon and do not dwell much on the past. Népszabadság and Blikk in principle advocate
a liberal approach to nationhood, namely that the nation is the collective of citizens and not of
co-ethnics. Moreover, according to Népszabadság, the state should be ethnically blind and
treat every citizen equally. Népszabadság also focuses a lot on ethno-national diversity
because the Hungarian public is very sensitive about it. As it will be shown, its preference for
liberal values and its genuine concern for Hungarian minorities abroad sometimes come into
conflict with each other. The most frequent stories related to diversity concern the Roma
minority and Hungarian minorities abroad. Yet, this newspaper treats Roma issues with high
sensitivity, often voicing Roma perspectives and is very critical about anti-Roma initiatives
and organizations.
Reflecting this ideological view highlighted above, regarding the state’s involvement
in regulating questions related to ethnic diversity, the chief editor of this newspaper argued
that the general rule should be non-interference since every Hungarian citizen should be
entitled to the same rights regardless of his/her ethnicity. At the same time, he admitted that
ethnic groups should be allowed to form associations to cultivate their culture, and should
receive funds from the state for cultural purposes, thus implicitly endorsing collective rights.55
It can be argued, however, that Népszabadság often deviates from its liberal stance as in
practice it endorses collective rights of Hungarian minorities. Another editor of this
newspaper explicitly said that collective rights were necessary since without such rights there
was no minority education for instance. He emphasized that some issues cannot be
approached from the aspect of individual rights, which is true even if liberals usually try to
avoid the question of collective rights. Collective rights should be granted in the fields of
education or the use of language, depending on the particular needs of certain communities.56
The interviewees did not want to differentiate between historical and immigrant minorities in
terms of group rights, since all minorities over a considerable size should enjoy the same
rights.57 It should be also mentioned here that the newspaper writes very supportively about
the aspirations of Hungarian minorities abroad to have access to diversity institutions, such as
minority language education.
As was noted before, in contrast to the journalists of Magyar Nemzet, Népszabadság is
very skeptical about the usefulness of state policies aiming to ensure gender equality.58 The
respondents were unsure whether it was necessary to deal with gender equality at all.
However, even if such policies or structures were needed, these should be adopted at a lower
level than that of the European. According to the opinion of the newspaper’s editors, EU
policies are not necessary to deal with gender equality since the situation in this regard will
hardly change as a result of some laws enacted in Brussels. They thought that although
women truly had a lot of problems, these should not be addressed through institutional means
introduced by the state.59 Society has to change mentally in order to achieve more equal
gender relations. At the same time, full equality cannot be reached due to some objective
differences between men and women, such as only women are capable of giving birth to
children and this fact in itself has some practical consequences.60
Matching its quite subtle language and style, Népszabadság hardly takes strong
positions while presenting delicate stories related to the Roma or gay people, yet its point of

55
Interview with NSZ1.
56
Interview with NSZ2.
57
Interview with NSZ3.
58
Interview with NSZ1; Interview with NSZ2.
59
Interview with NSZ2.
60
Interview with NSZ1.
view can be usually indirectly inferred. Népszabadság devoted much more newspaper space
to the violence at the gay parade than Magyar Nemzet for instance. Népszabadság clearly
spoke up on behalf of gay people and in favor of gay rights, and called the parade a shameful
day of Budapest.

The EU
The views articulated by the journalists interviewed reflected the newspaper’s general
lack of concern with the protection of national identity and sovereignty especially as
compared to Magyar Nemzet. Accordingly, Népszabadság would favor a strong, unified
Common Foreign and Security Policy.61 The respondents also argued that if the EU wants to
remain an important player on the world stage it should move towards centralization.
However, this will naturally be difficult to digest for the member states, which is why the EU
will never be as unified as the United States. The journalists interviewed seemed to agree that
as a result of European integration, national identity has not weakened. Although states had to
give up part of their sovereignty, such as full control over taxation, yet this hurt only the
interests of parts of the national elite, and had nothing to do with national identity.
Moreover, according to the respondents, European integration impacted ethno-national
diversity in a positive way since as a result of the EU separatism does not make much sense
any more.62 Minorities started to have different aspirations than before, as they often have
their own budgets, whereas other areas of sovereignty they used to fight for fell out of
national jurisdiction as well. European integration has a good effect on old minority related
problems also because it allows for the free movement of people through borders. The life of
cultural minorities that are not tied to a certain place and the practice of religion became
easier.63 In addition, European integration accelerated the mixing of the European population
in a natural way, for instance within the frames of the Erasmus program 1,5 million students
have studied and lived in different European countries.64
European enlargement towards the Western Balkans, mobility/free movement,
European workers rights and common energy policy are those EU-related topics which the
newspaper presents also from a Hungarian perspective. This does not mean, however, that the
newspaper’s preferences would be clear on these subjects; the only difference is that Hungary
appears as a concerned party not as an outside observer when discussing these subjects. The
newspaper can be considered as pro-European, yet, occasionally it can be also Eurosceptic
representing the leftist critique of the European integration. For instance, it published an
article about the initiative of the Social Charta, which was highly critical of the EU and called
for an all-European referendum about a Lisbon Treaty. Members of the Charta, mostly
prominent leftist intellectuals, criticized the treaty for representing a neo-liberal and
neoconservative agenda that, according to them, would be rejected by most Europeans, thus a
referendum would be necessary.65 Europessimistic views frequently appear in the broadsheet
such as a recent headline stating “EU money does not work well enough.”66 This attitude
reflects the mood of the general population, which can be summarized as “nothing has
changed since our accession.”67

61
Interview with NSZ3; Interview with NSZ1; Interview with NSZ2.
62
Interview with NSZ1.
63
Interview with NSZ2.
64
Interview with NSZ1.
65
“Összeurópai Népszavazást akar a magyar Szolciális Charta is”, Népszabadság, 02. 08. 2008.
66
Népszabadság, 05. 03. 2008.
67
István Hegedűs, 29.
According to the principle of a civic, ethnically neutral state regime, interviewees at
Népszabadság argued that organizing political parties based on ethnicity would not be
advisable. Establishing ethnically based parties would be senseless because Hungarian society
is not ethnically defined. On the contrary, due to the ethnically mixed nature of the
population, it is a society of Hungarian citizens and not of ethnic Hungarians. Moreover,
setting up a Roma political party would not be advisable as it would not improve the situation
of the Roma in any way but would probably provoke negative reactions from the majority
population.68 Parties should be organized along ideological not ethnic lines.
Being less concerned with safeguarding national identity and thus with the protection
of minority rights of ethnic Hungarians in the neighbor countries, Népszabadság opposes
prescribing specific minority rights at the EU level. According to Népszabadság, the EU
should not over regulate minority rights. It should set some norms and guidelines in the area
of minority rights but more than that would be counterproductive. The EU should grant the
minimum level of rights such as basic human rights and prohibit discrimination, a
requirement which is already fulfilled according to the respondents. They claimed that EU
legislation might lead to over-regulation as the situation of minorities is specific to each
country, thus has to be regulated at the national level fundamentally.
As was mentioned already, Népszabadság has an opposing view to Magyar Nemzet on
the nation which it perceives as a collective of citizens, not of co-ethnics. This approach to the
national community influences the newspaper’s preferences on citizenship as well. During the
2004 referendum, Népszabadság did not support granting double citizenship to ethnic
Hungarians living outside of Hungary. Interestingly, however, the editors interviewed by
Eurosphere claimed that they had nothing against dual citizenship. Moreover, as one of them
reasoned, dual citizenship has a particular significance for Hungary, since it could solve the
problem of Hungarian minorities in the neighboring countries.69 This reasoning strongly
resembles the opinion of Magyar Nemzet’s journalists.

In line with the newspaper’s liberal views, the chief editor claimed that anyone who
wishes to be a Hungarian citizen should have the right to do so regardless of descent, birth,
residence and others. The only precondition of citizenship should be that applicants respect
the laws of the country and show willingness to get to know Hungarian culture and
language.70 Contrary to this opinion, according to another editor of the newspaper, however,
ethnic Hungarians should enjoy privileges in this area. Everyone who considers him/herself a
Hungarian and/or speaks good Hungarian should receive Hungarian citizenship in an easy
way. He also emphasized that at the moment the state makes it very difficult for ethnic
Hungarians to settle in Hungary, while Hungary would actually need them to counterbalance
the decreasing population trend. In addition, he also held that citizens of other EU member
states should be granted Hungarian citizenship automatically if they requested it.71 The
interviews indicated that leading journalists of Népszabadság did not share the same idea of
how membership in the nation should be defined, as some thought the ethnic factor was more
important than others. This again demonstrated the ambiguity deriving from the ongoing
tension between the aspiration to adhere to liberal values and the concern for Hungarian
minorities abroad. This ambiguity manifested in the answers given to questions about the
terms of entry, work and settlement policies. Two respondents argued that Hungary should
treat all people equally and should not be favorable towards citizens of specific countries, and

68
Interview with NSZ1; Interview with NSZ3.
69
Interview with NSZ1; Interview with NSZ2.
70
Interview with NSZ1.
71
Interview with NSZ2.
towards certain ethnic groups such as ethnic Hungarians.72 However, the third respondent
expressed an opposing view on this matter, as according to him first of all ethnic Hungarians
and Hungarian speaking people should be allowed to immigrate to Hungary. In addition,
citizens of the neighbor countries should also receive preferential treatment.73
Yet, even at Népszabadság national identity sometimes clearly comes into play as an
important consideration influencing the articulation of preferences about certain policy areas,
such as about enlargement. According to the journalists of Népszabadság, eastern
enlargement affected ethno-national diversity in a positive way since membership in the EU
helps the new countries to adopt different standards, to internalize European norms, which is
good for minorities living there. Moreover, as another benefit of European enlargement they
highlighted that the borders disappeared between Hungary and Hungarian minorities, thus the
territories where those minorities live were rejoined to the mother country. Eastern
enlargement, however, did not affect the situation of the Roma in a specific way; it brought as
many benefits for the Roma minority as for the rest of the country.74

At the same time, generally, the lack of concern for the need to protect Hungarian
culture from foreign influences characterizes the newspaper, as was reflected by respondents’
views on international migration. Népszabadság presented international migration within the
EU as the most natural consequence of EU integration, which was very beneficial especially
from the perspective of the individual. People can work wherever they want to; they can go to
a doctor where they prefer, etc. Migration can solve local problems, as people have the
possibility to look for jobs in other countries where they hope to find better conditions for
their living.75
Being less keen on the protection of national sovereignty, Népszabadság would favor
delegating the policy areas of free movement, migration (including political rights of
immigrants), political asylum, and illegal migration to the European level.76 However,
according to the newspaper, European regulation concerning immigration should be more of a
flexible framework because it matters for individual countries where immigrants are coming
from.77
The newspaper’s views on enlargement are also in line with its traditional liberal
principles. According to Népszabadság, countries that do not separate the church and the
state, which do not respect basic human rights, freedom of speech and opinion, which apply
the death penalty or discriminate against ethnic minorities or homosexuals, should not be
allowed to join the EU.78 In addition, if accepting a country would not be beneficial for the
EU from a practical point of view and with that particular member the EU would be worse off
than before then that country should not be accepted. One such reason could be economic
differences, such as was the case with Romania and Bulgaria before their membership as they
were way behind the EU economically.79
Being a liberal in Hungary also means rejecting the kind of traditionalism which
promotes religious values. Accordingly, Népszabadság would support Turkey’s EU
membership, as accepting Turkey as a member would prove that the EU is not a Christian
club. The EU should also enlarge to the Western Balkan states due to historical reasons and
because the EU practically surrounds this region. In addition, the respondents stressed that the
72
Interview with NSZ1; Interview with NSZ3.
73
Interview with Mn2.
74
Interview with NSZ2.
75
Interview with NSZ2.
76
Interview with NSZ1; Interview with NSZ2.
77
Interview with NSZ3; Interview with NSZ1; Interview with NSZ2.
78
Interview with NSZ1.
79
Interview with NSZ2.
EU should not be afraid of accepting Turkey as a Muslim country since Albania, Macedonia
and Bosnia are also partially Muslim. The only fear concerning Turkey that has to be attended
to is that Turkey has a huge population thus would have too much political influence in the
EU’s institutions.80 Yet, Turkey has made a big effort to meet the EU’s requirements, millions
of Turkish citizens work currently in the EU, and Turkey is a secular state. Moreover,
accepting Turkey is a strategic interest of the EU due to military defense and economic
reasons.81 While the two editors supported Turkish accession, the third journalist did not
approve of it as according to him, due to geographic and cultural reasons Turkey cannot be
regarded as a European country. At the same time, he also argued that since the EU gave the
candidate status to Turkey thus promised membership, Turkey has to be allowed to join the
EU. With regards to the Ukraine on the long run membership could be granted, yet at the
moment it is not a political reality.82

Tabloid discourse
Blikk is a tabloid newspaper that is characterized by its aspiration to be politically
neutral. At the same time, implicitly it stands on the liberal/leftist ideological base, since it is
unconcerned with issues related to Hungarian identity, probably even more than
Népszabadság. The newspaper can be considered pro-diversity when it comes to Roma or gay
issues even if it typically picks up Roma or sexual minority stories in connection to
sensational events and celebrities. Yet, in general, it tries to avoid taking a stance on sensitive
political subjects. Dictated by its aspiration to remain politically neutral Blikk tries to discuss
problems related to minorities without presenting the stories’ minority aspect.83 Although
stories about the Roma and sexual minorities appear from time to time, Blikk does not
explicitly portray stories involving minorities as issues of diversity. The newspaper avoids
discussing minority issues explicitly, as it is trying to present everything in a neutral way. As
a tabloid paper, it targets the majority, thus it does not aim to fight for minority rights or
minority representation in any way.84 As a result, its pro-diversity attitude is more often than
not implicit rather than explicit.

For instance, when Blikk reported about the Gay Parade in 2008 in Budapest, it
underplayed the gay aspect of the events while emphasized the human rights violations
committed against the participants. Thus, Blikk was trying to show that some groups were
unable to assert their right to freedom of opinion because other groups prevented them from
doing so. According to the interviews with Blikk journalists, anyone whose rights are being
violated deserves attention from the state.85 Blikk fundamentally endorses a liberal value
system as it maintains that no one should be given preferential treatment by the state just
based on belonging to an ethnic or minority group, rather the most current problems need to
be addressed.86
The newspaper shows a negative picture about anti-Roma, rightwing groups such as
Magyar Gárda or Gój Motorosok. A Blikk article described the latter as being “famous for
their extremist views”, and presented them very unfavorably.87 It also carried a detailed report
with expressive pictures about the boys who beat up a Roma mother with her daughter,

80
Interview with NSZ2.
81
Interview with NSZ1.
82
Interview with NSZ3.
83
Interview with Blikk3.
84
Interview with Blikk3.
85
Interview with Blikk1.
86
Interview with Blikk3.
87 “Gypsy blood will flow if any of the eight murderers will be released.” Szabolcs Koós, “Így ölték meg Szögi
Lajost”, www.blikk.hu., 03. 07. 2008.
implicitly emphasizing the awfulness of the crime and condemning the ideology that was
behind it.88 Moreover, Blikk presented a controversial advertisement of the 2008 Gay Parade
with much sympathy towards the organizers. The advertisement that was meant to publicize
the parade caused a public outrage, because three little children featured on the poster with a
message that everybody has the right to stand up for him/herself. The journalist interviewed
the mother of the children who voiced her pro-gay and pro-Roma opinions and argued that
everybody has the right to be different.89 Likewise, while reporting about the violence at the
festival, the newspaper clearly sympathized with the gay victims and portrayed the attackers
as fascists and extremists, condemning what they stood for.
As was argued above, although the broadsheet is pro-diversity when it comes to Roma
or homosexual issues, its excessive ambition for political neutrality often prevents it from
taking a clear stance in the news stories it publishes when racism is manifested. In line with
Blikk’s editorial policy, its journalists write about issues of diversity if there is an event that is
interesting to people. In practice they devote a lot of attention to questions related to
minorities, mostly because these interest the Hungarian public.90

Blikk does not have a clear preference on gender issues. While its male editor did not
think the situation of women in Hungary was problematic at all, a female journalist assigned
great importance to the empowerment of women.91 According to the newspaper’s editor, there
is not too much discrimination against women, at least in his own profession of journalism it
is not really the case. The time will come when more women will be members of parliament,
yet, it will be the result of social development and not of legal pressure or inference of the
EU, he reasoned.92
The EU hardly features as a topic on Blikk’s pages, which is why the newspaper’s
views about the EU can be best established based on interviews. Reflecting Blikk’s lack of
concern over the protection of Hungarian identity, according to Blikk journalists, it would be
desirable having a common European constitution, which would reinforce the common
feeling that we belong to a single big unit. Yet, they also added that the EU should be
governed in a decentralized way due to its high degree of diversity.93
The issue of Hungarian minorities was a consideration for Blikk journalists as well
while formulating their position. They saw mostly the positive effects of European integration
on ethnic diversity in light of how EU integration has affected the situation of Hungarian
minorities in the region. One of the respondents argued that as all territories inhabited by
ethnic Hungarians gradually become parts of the EU, all previous divisions and isolations will
come to an end and all ethnic Hungarians will be able to move freely across the borders
regardless of which country they are coming from.94 Enlargement had a positive effect on
diversity in the EU especially from the Hungarian minorities’ point of view since most of
Hungary’s neighbors became EU members as well.95 Another journalist pointed out, however,
that while in principle enlargement should have changed the life of minorities for the better in
the EU, yet in practice this often has not been the case, such as with regards to the Hungarians
in Slovakia.96

88
“Kiengedték a romaverő fiatalokat,” www.blikk.hu., 09. 07. 2008.
89
“Ők reklámozzák a melegfesztivált,” www.blikk.hu., 07. 06. 2008.
90
Interview with Blikk1.
91
Interview with Blikk2.
92
Interview with Blikk1.
93
Interview with Blikk1.
94
Interview with Blikk1.
95
Interview with Blikk3.
96
Interview with Blikk2.
Although as any media actor in Hungary, Blikk also shows some interest in Hungarian
minorities abroad, yet it opposes clear cut EU policies in their area of minority protection in
line with the leftist/liberal ideological stance. Arguing on this ideological ground, only
citizens should be entitled to any kind of political rights in Hungary. Similarly, Blikk
journalists would not differentiate among people on ethnic basis thus would not deal with
ethnic Hungarians favorably while granting citizenship.97 In their view, long term residence
and certain level of knowledge of the constitution and Hungarian culture should be the main
requirements. A respondent argued as enlargement proceeds further, the question of dual
citizenship will be irrelevant. What will matter is that everybody would be able to travel and
work freely. They also agreed that citizenship in the EU should be derived from citizenship in
the member states.98
In the same way as Népszabadság, Blikk would not differentiate among immigrants
based on ethnicity, thus, would not treat ethnic Hungarians favorably. The general rule should
be that groups that cannot adopt the norms of the country should not be accepted. In general,
immigrants should be selected according to Hungary's special employment needs.99
According to Blikk, although some EU level regulation would be desirable in the areas of
immigration, political rights of immigrants, asylum, and illegal migration, the special
preferences of the border countries should be also taken into consideration, as these states
need supplementary local regulation that is in harmony with EU law.100
At the same time, Blikk journalists were enthusiastic about the advantages of
international migration. In their opinion, international migration had enormous advantages as
people can learn new methods, norms and get to know other societies. Yet, the same journalist
also added that the greatest disadvantage of international migration was not only brain drain
but also the practice, according to which more developed countries hire people from poorer
countries for unskilled job positions, which generates cultural tensions.
Blikk’s views on citizenship, minority policies, gender equality, migration/asylum, free
movement, political rights, and EU enlargement cannot be inferred from its articles.
Moreover, the journalists interviewed within the frames of Eurosphere research held very
different ideas about these topics, unlike at Népszabadság or Magyar Nemzet. This suggests
that these issues are quite irrelevant for the newspaper as it causes no problem if its leading
journalists hold contradictory ideas about them.

Media Views on the EPS


While the Hungarian print media discusses every issue area according to the right and
the left-liberal ideological frame, the EPS is an exception in this regard. With the exception of
one interviewee, every respondent claimed the EPS did not exist thus their attitude towards
the EPS can be characterized by general ignorance and/or lack of understanding. Moreover,
most of the media respondents were skeptical about whether a common European
communication space should be created. This implies that none of them thinks within the
frames of the EPS nor do they view themselves as being part of the EPS. Moreover, none of
the actors had significant international or EU level partnership or collaboration with other
media actors. Most of them cooperate with participants within their own media group
belonging to the same owner. Their EU level cooperation is mostly limited to visiting
conferences.
Most interviewees thought it was important to inform their public about European
policies and diversity issues. Yet, most of them admitted that while the theme of diversity

97
Interview with Blikk1; Blikk2.
98
Interview with Blikk1; Interview with Blikk2.
99
Interview with Blikk1; Interview with Blikk2; Interview with Blikk3.
100
Interview with Blikk1.
received a lot of attention, Hungarian media does not cover the EU sufficiently. Many of the
respondents pointed out that the EU was distant and something often hard to comprehend
even for them, not to mention their audience. Since very few people understand how the EU
functions or the significance of certain issues, such as of the new constitution or the Lisbon
treaty, the readers and the editors are not too keen to write and read about EU related topics.
Most of them thought the EPS was non-existent and its future evolution should be
spontaneous, not generated by the European bureaucracy.
A leading journalist of Magyar Nemzet was the only person interviewed who thought a
European communication sphere existed, and thought the EPS was something important that
Hungarian media should be a part of. Yet, he also maintained that in Hungary hardly anyone
was connected to the EPS. In his opinion, having an EPS would be desirable as it could
contribute to the creation of a stronger European identity. He suggested that in order to join
the EPS, Hungarian civil society should get involved in Europe wide social debates. The
connection and cooperation among civil society, interest groups, churches and Brussels
should be improved. Thus, more communication spaces should exits that should be connected
to each other. This could also provide for a better representation and assertion of citizens’
interests at the EU level, if for instance, Hungarian peasants formed a coalition with their
Spanish counterparts.101 EU programs could be initiated which would aim at influencing
public opinion in other EU member states. Journalists could visit newspapers in other
countries and communicate their national viewpoints to foreign audiences. This would help to
create a European public sphere. At present, only big events entered the European
communication channel, such as news about the French presidency, while more
communication would be needed about simple, daily issues in countries of a similar size as of
Hungary.102
Journalists of Népszabadság saw it as their duty to inform their audience about EU
politics; however, in their view people are interested mostly in national politics. According to
the journalist specialized in EU politics, it would be desirable to publish more about the EU,
yet due to the editors’ and the audience’s lack of interest they do not cover it sufficiently.103
According to Népszabadság, an EPS does not exist, and there is no need to create more
possibilities for trans-European communication. As its journalists reasoned, there are very few
topics which attract the attention of the whole European public, such as the Lisbon Treaty or
the Euro. However, even these so called European topics appear in their national dimension in
the media, reflecting the interests of the national public. European issues appear in national
communication spaces naturally through their national interpretation, thus are presented from
a national viewpoint.104 As one respondent pointed out, The Financial Times could be an
example of a European communication space; however its audience is very narrow,
constrained to financial experts. This special communication space came into being with the
introduction of the Euro, which created a common field of interest. Thus, European
communication spaces will evolve spontaneously if there will be a need for them, their
creation cannot be pushed by bureaucratic means. Therefore, if there will be a need for
European communication dictated by the business world or other communities, this will
develop naturally.105 Hence, it is doubtful whether a trans-European communication space
could be and should be artificially created. If the EU makes some efforts to set up the EPS, it
should do so very cautiously, because such initiatives can turn into empty formalized shells.
The journalists also mentioned the language barrier as an important obstacle of creating a

101
Interview with Mn1.
102
Interview with Mn2.
103
Interview with NSZ3.
104
Interview with NSZ3.
105
Interview with NSZ2.
common European communication space, as naturally most people are unable to read
newspapers of other countries.106
Blikk journalists thought it was their task to inform their audience about EU related
issues as much as these issues directly affected people. As Blikk’s main profile is
entertainment, they write about Hungary and issues that are close to their readers. They write
about Hungarian politics, domestic problems in Hungarian to Hungarian people.107 According
to their editorial policy, events, which might be interesting for the readers should be reported
about. Blikk does not aim to influence public opinion necessarily. They see it as their duty to
inform and to entertain. “We can have an influence on people as a soap opera which tries to
change people’s way of thinking about social issues through simple messages.”108
In Blikk’s views, the EPS does not exist either. Moreover, there is no need to create an
EPS. An EPS should come into being spontaneously; otherwise it would be overregulated and
non-enjoyable. Its establishment should not be forced. Blikk’s journalists gave voice to the
view widely shared in Hungary, according to which whatever happens in Brussels is really
irrelevant. Brussels is far away and the effects of the EU are felt here in a very indirect way.
Readers of the tabloid press cannot be moved by EU issues that are in general irrelevant for
them. As one journalist explained, Hungarian readers do not follow European issues such as
the Lisbon Treaty, which is why an average reader would feel insulted if someone asked her
about such questions.109

Conclusions
Hungarian media actors cannot be classified as pro- or anti-diversity in a
straightforward way. The right wing newspaper Magyar Nemzet dictated by its
conservative/right wing agenda vocally supports the cause of Hungarian minorities abroad
and is highly sensitive about the situation of national minorities elsewhere. Yet, at the same
time, it tends to convey a negative tone about the Roma, which is the largest minority in
Hungary, and presents other groups, such as sexual minorities in a negative light. By contrast,
Népszabadság, the left leaning political daily follows the most politically correct line,
presenting the Roma and sexual minorities with great sensitivity, while also expressing
interest in Hungarian minorities abroad. Thus, Népszabadság has an opposing stance on
diversity to Magyar Nemzet when it comes to homosexuals or the Roma, since it presents
groups representing domestic diversity – Roma and sexual minorities – with much sympathy.
While evaluating the merits of Hungary’s European integration and of European
enlargement, for every media actor it was an important consideration how European
integration affected Hungarian minorities abroad. According to the general opinion of the
Hungarian media, European integration and enlargement had a very positive effect on ethnic
diversity, since territories inhabited by ethnic Hungarian minorities became part of the EU. As
a result, all previous divisions and isolations will gradually come to an end and all ethnic
Hungarians will be able to move freely across the borders regardless of which country they
were coming from.110
While all media actors show relatively strong interest in Hungarian minorities abroad,
Népszabadság and Blikk treat the subject of Hungarian minorities with more distance than
Magyar Nemzet. Népszabadság’s liberal value system, which gives preference to the
individual over the collective, influences the newspaper’s approach towards minority policies
and citizenship. Népszabadság upholds the civic concept of the nation thus it favors less the

106
Interview with NSZ1.
107
Interview with Blikk2.
108
Interview with Blikk1.
109
Interview with Blikk3.
110
Interview with Blikk1; Interview with Blikk2.
idea of privileging Hungarian minorities based on ethnicity. Likewise, Blikk would not treat
ethnic Hungarians favorably either with regard to immigration and citizenship policy or
political rights. These two newspapers would grant the EU a high influence in the area of free
movement and migration policy, but not in minority policy.

The five media actors differ in their approach towards the EU in line with their
political position. Magyar Nemzet, in line with its right wing political platform is the most
EU-skeptic, favoring an EU polity where the member states keep a high degree of
sovereignty. Népszabadság is the most sympathetic to the EU. This newspaper is the most in
favor of bringing more policies under EU jurisdiction. Blikk journalists did not have a very
characteristic opinion on the EU. This reflects the newspaper’s lack of interest in the subject
indicated also by the fact that it hardly publishes articles related to EU issues. What is
common to all the selected media actors is that each presents the EU as something external to
Hungary, whether in a positive or a negative light.