Local news. It’s not the most important information for the vast majority of people. And that’s OK. After all, it’s not designed to be. This is local news, of interest to a small number of people, they being the locals in question.
And people are comfortable with that. People recognise that the paper it’s printed on doesn’t need to be the sort of thing the Queen might use to dash off an invitation to the Prince of God-Knows-Where. Horses for courses. This is a local newsletter, it doesn’t need to be printed on silk. The medium is less relevant than what it conveys, and we all recognise that the less money that is spent on the local ‘rag’ (no disrespect intended), the better use can be made of our local taxes.
There were photos of the mayor and his deputies opening things or awarding prizes, there were photos of new-born babies and toddlers. There was news about renovations on the estate, renovations of a doctor’s surgery, and news about a memorial plaque being affixed to a building. Add to that a crossword puzzle, and information about who was set to perform at the upcoming Bakáts Festival, and you all get the picture, don’t you? This is, as anyone would recognise, is what we get, and more importantly, what we expect from a local newspaper.
Upon being elected mayor, one of the first things that ‘independent’ (through having no party, not by choice) Krisztina Baranyi did upon entry into office was to clear the decks in various areas of local government, installing old chums in lucrative positions in a manner which revealed with great clarity that her campaign merely paid lip service to the idea of transparency and the end of what she said was evidence of corruption. She also made changes at the local newspaper which having undergone a remarkable makeover, now utterly misses the point of what a local newspaper is meant to be.
Take the February 2021 edition. The first thing that strikes you is the dramatic change in materials now used. Gone is the rough paper we used to have, now there has been an expensive makeover. Not only a glossy cover, but glossy pages, too. No belt tightening here.
Gone is the local element of the local newspaper. Mirroring the aspirations of those who presently hold power in the 9th district local government, this newspaper has ideas above its station. This newspaper has now been transformed, into that which the opposition habitually vilify: this newspaper is now nothing more than an propaganda tool. This upgraded local newspaper now sees its role not as delivering news to the locals, but as bringing down the governing party of Hungary.
The February edition features an attack on Gábor Kubatov.
Kubatov is a Fidesz MP and one of the vice presidents of Fidesz. In addition, and this is where the 9th district connection can be found, Kubatov is the president of the Ferencváros sports club (Fradi), the most popular sports club in Hungary.
Fine, why wouldn’t a 9th district local newspaper feature an article on the leader of a sports club located in the same district? Well, that’s not the issue. The issue is that this is a political hatchet job. The title of the piece is: “Fradisztan: 10 years of Kubatov”. Fradisztan. That’s insulting, for a start, and typical of the Hungarian Leftwaffe, something that would be seized upon as evidence of the promotion of subtle imperialism and racism, here, the idea of some sort of anti-democratic fiefdom, as communicated with the ‘-stan’ ending. Try that in any publication other than one associated with the liberals and just wait for the stoning to begin.
But, double standards apart, what else can we find in this no-longer local newspaper? Well, in keeping with the change in management, of the two adverts on the inside cover, one is advertising the local press itself, the other is an advert for Magyar Hang, ostensibly (in the advertising blurb at least), “One of Hungary’s biggest, truly independent and critical weeklies”. What this means to the uninitiated, of course, is that Magyar Hang is as liberal as you can imagine and wants nothing less than the outlawing of Fidesz. When liberals write the word ‘independent’, it means ‘blinkered to anything but their own, narrow-minded views’. And so it continues. In the introductory editorial piece, we learn that the goals of the magazine are not, as they might be expected, to be passing information onto the local residents, but rather the saving of the world from Trump, freeing Navalny from Putin’s clutches and more in the same vein. This magazine states, in no uncertain terms, that its job is to fight the government that was elected in Hungary. That means that it’s lost the plot. The magazine that should be a source of information for those who live in the district is now labouring under the impression that it is solely responsible for the removal of Orbán from the head of the government. So, in addition to attacks on sport club presidents, we have the bizarre addition of the results of a poll to convince us all that the district thinks the world of the idiot now in charge and a special report to highlight that those of an artistic bent in the 9th also disagree with the government on a whole range of issues.
This is a sad state of affairs. The opposition screech and wail to the flapping, international ears of global Leftwaffe chapters, insisting that armies be organised to stop the progress of propaganda in Hungary. And yet it is they, the very ones doing the complaining who churn out nothing but propaganda. A local newspaper, intended to keep people abreast of local events and items of interest has, under the liberal Baranyi’s leadership, been transformed into a glossy magazine with the goal of sinking a democratically elected government. This is not what local newspapers are intended for, but what does that matter? The Leftwaffe know exactly what they’re doing: they’re forcing anti-government propaganda into every nook and cranny they can find. As they busy themselves with that, we can all read of the Hungarian right-wing propaganda machine in the international press.