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Chief photo editor leaves Origo, accusing it of ‘manipulation’

János Ostyáni has handed in his resignation from the position of chief photo editor at origo.hu, the Hungarian online news portal which has recently turned conspicuously government-friendly, according to a report on online news site 24.hu. Ostyáni accused the portal of manipulating photographs.

Ostyáni claimed that a photo gallery published to accompany an origo.hu report about the demonstration in support of NGOs on April 12, which he had edited and approved, was later removed and its images switched with photographs of unknown origin, 24.hu reported. The former editor reportedly told 24.hu that many things have bothered him since origo.hu changed ownership and turned pro-government, but that the work of the photography editor had not been affected. However, he added, “this was the last straw.”

The original pictures of the demonstration were changed to pictures that many Hungarian media outlets have observed are of unclear origin. Origo.hu has been accused of reporting about the demonstration by saying that “only a few” attended, contrary to widespread media reports that tens of thousands attended, posting photos showing the gathering crowd before the official start of the protest, Hungarian online news portal index.hu reported earlier. 

According to 24.hu, the same photos - which media reports speculate were taken from the headquarters of Fidesz - have since been published by government-friendly sites 888.hu and Lokál, all published with different photographer names.

Editorial assistant Márta Kovách and photo editor Márton Csanádi were also reported to have left origo.hu recently, as part of a wave of journalists leaving the portal. An index.hu update today reported that another journalist, Judit Vajda, also handed in her resignation.