Journalists quit portal as central bank financing is revealed

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So far 11 journalists have announced that they are resigning from Hungarian online daily vs.hu after it was revealed that the news portalʼs publisher, New Wave Media Kft., received public money from the foundations of the National Bank of Hungary (MNB), according to reports.

Many of the resigning journalists have issued Facebook posts claiming that they had no knowledge of their employer receiving public money from the central bank. Many of them also maintained that the editorial content was always independent, and that material published had never been influenced by outside forces, but they said they still felt the need to quit their jobs for ethical reasons. 

After the string of resignations, Olivér Lebhardt, the editor-in-chief of vs.hu who said he had knowledge of money coming from the MNB foundations, resigned as well. “I made a mistake when I let sponsored content be published without signaling the sponsors… I take full responsibility… however, I hereby state that under my lead, the work of the editorial team was free, autonomous and independent, which I am proud of,” Lebhardt said, according to Hungarian online daily index.hu.

The central bank published the finances of its foundations on its website on Friday evening after the Constitutional Court ruled that legislation passed by the Parliament but not signed by President János Áder to make the finances of MNB’s foundations secret, was against the Fundamental Law of Hungary.

Press reports maintained that MNB Governor György Matolcsy’s cousin Tamás Szemerey has interests in the firm publishing vs.hu. But New Wave Media Kft. and New Wave Production Kft. said late today in an announcement that Szemerey “is not and has never been” the owner of those companies. The statement said no connections can be drawn between the central bank and the companies, or the media outlets owned by these companies: online portals vs.hu and origo.hu, which was sold by Magyar Telekom at the end of the 2015.

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