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Index vows to stay independent after ownership changes

Hungarian online news portal index.hu has vowed to stay editorially independent in the face of recent ownership changes, publishing an article clarifying the situation on Tuesday.

"We do not want anything but to keep doing what we have been doing: journalism, specifically the kind that is independent from the right, the left, Fidesz, the MSzP, Jobbik, the Red Army, or the Wehrmacht," Index said in the article.

According to the portal, the only significant change is happening with respect to the websiteʼs ad spaces, since CEMP SH, responsible for Indexʼs ad spaces and IT services, has been acquired by Gábor Ziegler and József Oltyán. The duo also acquired NP Nanga Parbat 17 Zrt., the founding company of Magyar Fejlődésért Alapítvány (Foundation for Hungarian Development), from László Bodolai.

The shares of index.huʼs publisher, Index Zrt., are nevertheless set to remain in the property of the Foundation for Hungarian Development, which is controlled by Bodolai, noted the portal.

Index claims that the current ownership scheme will allow the siteʼs editorial staff to operate freely, and the fact that their editor-in-chief is always picked from the pool of staff by staff members also acts as a safeguard.

"There are two basic conditions under which, if not met, Index cannot function properly. One is our editorial independence, meaning that our staff members – adhering to the journalistic standards we hold – produce whatever content they want. No outsider can have a say in our editorial decisions. The other condition is that no outsider can interfere with our decisions regarding which people work in the editorial staff," Index asserted.

Index has 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).