Silenced Népszabadság staff committed to continue

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Following the dramatic closure of Hungary’s largest-circulation left-leaning newspaper Népszabadság by the publisher on Saturday, and after failed negotiations between editorial staff and management on continued publication, staff say they are committed to continue what they term independent media coverage in any way possible, according to reports.

András Murányi, editor-in-chief of the paper at the time production was halted by the owners, said at a press conference in front of the paperʼs editorial building yesterday that negotiations had started on possible means for the editorial staff to continue their work. Murányi also hinted at the possibility of finding a new owner for Népszabadság, according to a video recorded by index.hu during the press conference. Péter Pető, deputy editor-in-chief, said in the same video that there are plans that many articles due to appear this week in the discontinued paper could be published on other platforms. 

The unexpected halt in publishing of Népszabadság, which came as a surprise even for the editorial staff, according to reports, triggered widespread opposition protests, including a demonstration in front of the Hungarian Parliament on Saturday evening, which attracted a few thousand people, online index.hu reported.

While the owners of Népszabadság claimed that the speed with which production of the paper was brought to an end was due purely to economic reasons, as the paper has generated losses for the past few years, others claim that the daily has been silenced due to its often critical tone towards the current Hungarian government.

The editorial staff of the paper turned up at their editorial offices yesterday in an attempt to work, but were denied entry to the building. Their email accounts were shut down on Saturday, index.hu wrote.

The management of Mediaworks, which bought Népszabadság recently, is reported to be starting talks with Murányi today, but neither the print version nor the online nol.hu will publish any articles today, the editor told online news portal index.hu. Murányi said talks will target finding a new owner for Népszabadság.

Talks in progress

As of late Monday morning, Mediaworks was reported to be continuing talks in order to reach an agreement in the coming days that could serve as a basis for relaunching the newspaper, the publisher told Hungarian news agency MTI today.

Mediaworks was reported to be open to an agreement that could include the option of selling Népszabadság. They said it is a fundamental aim to maintain the independence of the editorial team, while the owner will primarily focus on a financial analysis of the products. The two sides agreed to continue the talks on Monday, the publisher said in a statement.

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