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Index editor-in-chief sacked

Analysis

The management of Index.hu has decided to dismiss the news portalʼs editor-in-chief Szabolcs Dull today, roughly a month after he published an article claiming that the portalʼs independence is in danger.

According to a report by hvg.hu, László Bodolai, chairman of the Foundation for Hungarian Progress which owns the portal, wrote a letter to Index employees, claiming that Indexʼs political independence was never in danger, and it still is not.

"Currently, the economic impact of uncertainty generated by internal concerns is the greatest threat to the paper," he added.

According to the letter, Bodolai decided to appoint Pál Szombathy as Indexʼs new CEO.

In 2018, Index created a website tracking whether the portalʼs own staff think their independence is in danger. The pointer of a meter below the heading "Index is currently:" indicates "independent" (in green), "in danger" (yellow), or "not independent" (in red).

"We wanted to cut through the fog of rumors and conspiracy theories and have a way to unmistakeably let our readers know when we think there is trouble. Now there is trouble. The staff and independence of Index are in grave danger," Dull himself wrote in June, when the pointer was moved from the green to the yellow area.

"Index is under such external pressure that could spell out the end of our editorial staff as we know it. We are concerned that with the proposed organizational overhaul, we will lose those values that made Index.hu the biggest and most-read news site in Hungary," he added.

According to another article by Index, the reason for moving the tracker was that Indamedia Group, the company selling the portalʼs advertising spaces and thus having control over their revenues, wanted to force through a plan which would have dissected and dissolved Indexʼs editorial staff.

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