Origo’s transformation, as media reported, began in 2014 when the then-editor was sacked, soon after a story was published about the extravagant travel expenses by a government minister. This prompted a mass walkout by the staff of the media because there was suspicion about political interference. Then, Deutsche Telekom handed its ownership over the site to a media firm linked to Fidesz. With the arrival of the new editorial team in 2016, Viktor Orban’s favourite topics: opposition parties, migrants and Soroš, started to prevail on the front page of Origo.
On the other hand, when the government fails to recruit a media outlet they aren’t fond of, usually it gets shut down, that is what happened to the opposition newspaper Népszabadság, which was shut down last year. The reason for closing down the newspaper, as the journalists of the newspaper emphasised, is a series of articles on corruption scandals involving Orban. On the other hand, the company that issued the closed-down daily newspaper, Mediaworks, which is owned by VCP, stated in its press release that the reasons for the suspension of the newspaper are financial losses and the development of a new, more effective business model. The employees, civil societies and opposition parties emphasised that this was government pressure and a new attempt to silence critical voices and an attempt for total domination over the media by Viktor Oban.
Former journalist of Origa, Mártha Bence, commented for Fairpress the situation Hungarian media are in and the way in which the government is transforming the
When Origo, Hungary’s leading news site was sold, there was a year of consolidation, but from spring 2016 government mercenaries took over editing and since then the former creditable, trustworthy site became a propaganda site for the government. Lots of journalist left, those who remained were told what to write and what not to write about, censorship kicked in.
Regarding Népszabadság, it was a political decision without any doubt. They started to deal with sensitive topics and the government simply decided to “kill” them. The Prime Minister’s important ally bought the press house that owned them and simply destroyed it in a manner that resembles the darkest times of the communist era. The same happened with Origo – in 2014 they wrote a series of articles about prominent government members and two months later the editor-in-chief was fired and Origo was sold, said Mártha Bence for Fairpress.
He added that although the newspaper Népszabadság doesn’t exist anymore, legal procedures are in progress to at least save the archives of the newspaper.
As it is stated in the report of Reporters Without Borders, Viktor Orban has been strengthening his influence over media since he was elected as Prime Minister in 2010. Despite a large amount of criticism, the government continues to control the appointments and terms of new members who exercise control over media, as well as the media outlets themselves. This control can be very well seen in the example of two, once independent, media outlets (Népszabadság and Origo), where now one has seized to exist, while the other has been transformed into a government newsletter.