This video is a report I made together with Zsolt Balog on Roma rappers in Budapest. Through the account of four Roma rappers from the District VIII of Budapest we wanted to demonstrate how Roma rap is perceived by them and by the majority. They represent three generations in Roma rap music. Báró started his career in the 90s in a popular music act of three Roma performing a mixture of r’n’b and rap. (They were the ‘Fekete Vonat’ or ‘Black Train’.) Gooré was the first Roma to publish an English language music video in Hungary, he is very active since a couple of years in all sorts of Roma rap acts. Luigi and G.W.M. have gained reputation in the District VIII by performing as the best at many freestyle rap competitions. In addition to their accounts István Zoltán Csider a journalist on cultural issues, specialized on Hungarian rap tells his experience and theory on the perception of Roma rap music in Hungary.

Originally published on Sosinet.hu.


In this post I will showcase three of my favorite projects which I think demonstrate the “Power of We”.

This blog hasn’t been updated for a while but I thought Blog Action Day 2012 was a good reason to write a few lines on what I had done and where in the past couple of years.

The below presented projects are very important to me, I have done a lot of work in all of them and would love to see them up and working in the following years. If you have any questions about them please, send them in a comment.

The latest one: Jarokelo.hu

Jarokelo.hu

What’s this?
The website Jarokelo.hu (the name means “Pedestrian” in Hungarian) was launched last Friday, a service which aims to boost communication between municipalities and citizens. Citizens submit a complaint with a photo about problems they observe on the street, Jarokelo.hu sends it to the responsible municipality, the complaint is also published on the website for other citizens to comment. At the moment only the Hungarian capital Budapest’s districts are covered in the project. A couple of years ago inspired by the UK Fix My Street a website was developed by the Slovak Governance Institute, SGI runs Odkazprestarostu.sk (“Letter to the Mayor” in Slovak) in Slovakia and their system was implemented in Hungary.

Past
This is quite a new project I have started working on in February 2012 together with the Slovak Governance Institute from Bratislava, Slovakia. The launch was sponsored from a Visegrad Fund grant. Michal Simonfy, the developer and designer of Odkazprestarostu.sk helped me and my colleagues a lot with launching the Hungarian version of the site.

Present
At the moment three people are working with Jarokelo.hu. Since it has been launched recently, our main goal is to spread the news about the site and have more and more citizens to use it. We’re glad to see the new users registering on the website, clicking on the Like Button on Facebook, we think this project is very important to increase digital citizen participation in Hungary. Obviously, Budapest is the best place to start with in Hungary.

Future
As with many projects set up by NGOs, this one also needs immense social support and needs a plan for sustainability. We are looking for ways to make it sustainable. (At the moment we can only accept wire transfer donations, contact us at sajto-at-jarokelo.hu)

Where’s the Power of We?
The project was started with the expectation that transparency and citizen participation would speed up the way municipalities work for the people who live in their districts. With the help of Jarokelo.hu the citizens not only can send letters to their municipalities but they can talk to each other, they can discuss the problems reported and can even suggest solutions to the local officials. Crowdsourced solutions can help the local government perform better.

Where to find this project?
Jarokelo.hu websiteFacebookTwitter (All of this is in Hungarian language.)

An audacious one: Atlatszo.hu

Atlatszo.hu

What’s this?
Atlatszo.hu (the name means “transparent” in Hungarian) was started by Tamás Bodoky, a Hungarian investigative journalist, on his team are lawyers, ITC experts and of course journalists who are convinced that there’s a demand for free and independent media in Hungary. As you might have guessed by now, I am also on that team. I am calling this project audacious because of the topics it is dealing with (corruption, accountability) and because it is indeed independent, in a country where there isn’t any media which is not sponsored by some politician or wealthy businessman (oligarch) to serve his interests.

Past
A year ago I had a post published on Global Voices Advocacy in English telling the story of Atlatszo.hu, touching upon the problems with the then new media law of Hungary and the challenges for Mr. Bodoky to run the website. At that time he said if the fundraising problems were not solved, he would have to continue running the crowdsource investigative journalism project as a spare time blog.

Present
A year later it’s obvious that citizens and donors also realized the importance of the project (about the donations received read more here, pdf), actually this is the first start-up in Hungary which campaigned by telling people that small donations made via Flattr or PayPal can make a difference in Hungary. Many of the stories covered first by Atlatszo.hu made it to other nationwide read or broadcasted media, the site became very influential and our efforts were honored by an award this summer. I am very proud that I had an important role in that, since the requirement of the nomination was a Global Voices Online volunteer included in the project which I am for about 3 years now, but more on that later… The Breaking Borders Award is something we are all extremely proud of at Atlatszo.hu.

Future
Sustainability is a key question here as well. I see the big donors attention was caught and it has to be kept there all the time, but in addition to that I’d love to see more private donors, citizens who are tired of reading partial news and are willing to give eg. a thousand Hungarian Forints (1000 HUF is ca. 4,6 USD) to support the good cause.

Where’s the Power of We?
The Power of We appears in the strong belief that fair and impartial media can exist in Hungary, this creed connects us to each other and to our readers.

Where to find this project?
The website in Hungarian here, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr.
In English here and here.
Donate! :)

Forever love: Global Voices Online

Global Voices - The world is talking, are you listening?

What’s this?
Global Voices Online is a network of blogger(s and) volunteers who work for spreading unheard voices all over the world in different languages. We write about stories mainstream media missed, collect the comments of bloggers from all over the world, highlight issues that need support.

Past
The project was started in 2005 by Ethan Zuckerman and Rebecca MacKinnon (more about this here) and evolved into a whole network, a network of projects promoting free speech online and a community of people who work, volunteer or support these projects. I joined Global Voices Online in 2008 after attending their summit in Budapest as a journalist. I immediately fell in love with the whole idea and never stopped writing posts since then.

Present
About 2 years ago now the Hungarian version of Global Voices Online was launched. Szabolcs Panyi of the Hungarian Véleményvezér blog and I fulfill the task of editing, gladly, we experienced an increase in the number of volunteers who translate the English Global Voices articles into Hungarian this summer, also some of the translated stories made it into mainstream news sites.
I have been writing English posts since 2009, now I am responsible for the production of the before mentioned Atlatszo.hu’s posts for GV in the framework of a content exchange between the two. (I actually know Mr. Bodoky because in 2010 I wrote a post on him for Global Voices Online and he contacted me after that.)

Future
We are always happy to have new volunteers joining our cause. If you are reading my blog because you know Hungarian and English as well, why not join us? Apply here for Global Voices in Hungarian, apply here for English or other languages.

Where’s the Power of We?
In an international community of people who want to protect free speech online and they work for it for free. Because they believe in it. Isn’t that just super cool?

Where to find this project?
Global Voices Online in English
Global Voices Online in Hungarian
Facebook of the English site, Twitter
Facebook of the Hungarian site, Twitter
Donate! :)


Kaske is the “song of vengeance”. Fókatelep is a Hungarian band, their singer is Annamari Oláh, the other members are well-known musicians from other Hungarian acts such as Korai Öröm and ColorStar. This song is special because Gusztáv Balogh is featured in it, according to Lángoló Gitárok music blog he is considered to be the best Roma male vocalist in Hungary. The violinist is Róbert Farkas, also known form the act Budapest Bár.

(She breaks my heart each and every time I listen to this song.)

 


Bye-bye Malév

04Feb12

Now that I am thinking about writing a post on the cease of Malév Hungarian Airlines’ operation it turns out it’s not just about money and markets and financial crisis whatever, all that I said yesterday when everyone was mourning the national carrier. Maybe the other citizens made me feel like this? But it turns out I have feelings, too. It turns out I also feel somehow heartbroken.


Again… Since I posted a year ago a time-lapse video and stated that it was the best. Now the same person has published a new time-lapse video which is way more nicer than the other one. I had tears in my eyes while watching. Budapest is really this beautiful, no lie!


Today I was walking to work at Blaha Square when I saw something that made my day. We have some youth groups who are involved in politics but they are not actually participating in anything seriously. Their most important goal (and role) is to point at those events and decisions in Hungarian politics that are just funny. And how can you not find something ridiculous nowadays?

How could you miss setting up your or the people’s own Table of the Constitution with a pen attached to it with a ribbon in the national tricolor? 
I’m quoting here The Contrarian Hungarian who translated the new regulation which made obligatory to every municipality to set up a room with a table for the new Constitution. (Don’t forget, if you are a Hungarian citizen you can order your copy of the new Constitution at the local municipality.)

Starting on Thursday, September 1, 2011, every municipal council in Hungary must set up a table to display the country’s newly enacted constitution.

The table must be covered by glass, and the constitution on the table must be opened on page 28 (though citizens may browse the document freely, turning it to any one of its pages).  Next to the table, a chair must be set. The table must have its own room. The room must be guarded by an employee who is employed exclusively for tending the table.

Decoration (here there is rule for creativity) and a ribbon in the Hungarian national colors also must be placed in the room. Above the document itself, a sign must be fixed on the wall with the words “AZ ALAPTÖRVÉNY ASZTALA” – “THE CONSTITUTION’S TABLE.” The sign, hopefully more carefully guarded than a different document ordered to be kept on display in government offices and municipalities last year, which ended up being smeared with a deviled egg in one citizen’s effort to protest, must be IN BLOCK CAPITAL LETTERS.

Update: a friend just told me he saw another table of the Constitution at Móricz Square.

Update 2: Another friend witnessed a table of the Constitution at Széll Kálmán Square (this square has recently been renamed from Moszkva/Moscow Square to Széll Kálmán Sq., some days ago 4K! a youth politics/activist group ‘renamed’ it to Peking Square.)

Update 3: Somebody saw  a table at the Southern Railway Station as well. Have you seen any?


In this crazy and hot summer no surprise something has happened in the Hungarian media. After the second round of one accusing the other of lying it turns out a television reporter had made up her story. The false investigative report generated anger among wise consumers of fast moving commercial television goods, among media analysts and maybe among broadcast media workers as well. The one and only working watchdog of the Hungarian media the National Media and Infocommunications Authority also commented the case.

An investigative report about corn thiefs

TV2 a Hungarian commercial television channel has a show with reports of a more serious tone. The show Napló (Diary) often broadcasts materials dealing with investigative cases. The report of Gabriella Barczai about corn thieves in a small town in northern Hungary was broadcasted on July 31. The presenter Tvrtko Vujity (also an investigative journalist for television) rolled out the story by saying the guard of a corn field wanted them to show how corn thieves operate. Of course, he said, it’s not guaranteed that they go there and can record that golden minute when the crime happens.

In the video it seems like Gabriella Barczai was in the right place at the right time. TV2 was the very lucky one showing their audience that their journalists go and get the story no matter where and how. The reporter talked with the thieves in front of the camera about why they stole ears of corn and for how much they usually sell them.

The case caught the attention of the local police who investigated it and surprise surprise it turned out the three men appearing in the report as thieves were paid for playing the ‘role’. The show broadcasted another report the following Sunday in which the guard Zoltán Terjék acknowledged he paid the three men so the TV could show how he worked. The innocent reporter tried the guard, asked him why he set up the scene and added that the television would have shown those materials as illustrating cutaways if she had known beforehand what it was all about.

Before the image of the misled television stuck in our mind, reality (?) checked in. The guard of the corn field was fired for being a liar which was of course very bad for him. So he stood up and said wait, it was the TV staff who paid those guys. The news site HVG.hu also talked to the guard who said he wanted to do a favor for the television staff.

TV2 mentioned inside investigations in their statements. The results are not known. Maybe Gabriella Barczai set up the scene but I guess there were other members in that ‘staff’ who saw what was happening and still in the first round TV2 was trying to defend their position. They fired the reporter subsequently to the firing of the guard. Supposedly, they were afraid of the police investigations revealing more information about the recording of the scene, or the ‘actors’ starting to tell in public what happened exactly. Do you think Gabriella Barczai was the only liar in this story?

When I read about the case the film the Network (1976) came to my mind: “The only truth is what you get over this tube… Listen to me. Television is not the truth. Television is a goddamn amusement park… You people are the real thing, we are the illusion.”

The Hungarian media authority’s blog post about the false report implied the same thing ending with these words:

Nevertheless, let’s watch and listen to news programs and read dailies perceptively, meanwhile let’s always think about this: it’s not certain that all is corn thief which looks like that on television.

My problem (as a journalist) with this is that even if the media authority said this, this is not true. Or they shouldn’t talk like this. I always believed in media trying to do their best to present the truth. It’s true that the demonstration of the truth is not the truth itself but we should do our best to get close to that. Each media has their tools to do that in a fair and correct manner. No-one ever should imply that Hungarian media lie to their audiences! Should you be always dubious when you open the newspaper? So why does media exist if it’s not telling people the truth at all? It’s rather the leadership of those medias that know about themselves they are not even getting close to the truth should look into their system and find out if they have any problem concerning their code of ethics.

Thanks to HVG.hu news site which called attention to this story and didn’t let it fade away.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 809 other followers