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Hungarian Humphrey Alumni Stands Up for Freedom of the Press

In June 2014, Humphrey Alumnus Andras Petho resigned from his job, as Deputy Director of Origo news, a popular Hungarian online media source. Andras had been pursuing an investigative story on a senior Hungarian government official’s extraordinarily high travel expenses. As his investigation progressed, his news organization was put under pressure to drop the sensitive story.  When the organization’s leadership resisted, Origio’s editor was dismissed. Andras resigned as well, along with, “the entire politics section and dozens of other reporters. Altogether, more than half the newsroom decided to quit in protest of what they saw as the end of Origo’s editorial independence.”

Following his departure from Origo, Andras reunited with two of his colleagues, including the former Editor, to establish Direkt36, a non-profit center for investigative journalism in Hungary. According to Andras, “The three of us decided to join forces after what happened at Origo in an effort to continue the kind of independent journalism we believe in.” Since non-profits in Hungary are given greater freedom to conduct independent investigations, the group of reporters thought that to be the best solution. Today, they are crowdfunding their platform.

Andras was a Humphrey Fellow at the University of Maryland-College Park in 2012-2013. During that year, he took courses to enhance his journalistic skills. After completing his studies, he conducted his Professional Affiliation with The Washington Post investigative reporting team and during his time at The Washington Post his work was featured on the front page three times.

 

Andras (far-right) and his Direkt36 colleagues are featured in the photo.