Interview with Andras Petho
Our class met with fellow Terp and journalist, Andras Petho, Wednesday to discuss industry-wide issues and delve into what sets Hungarian journalism apart from other Central European countries.
Formerly an editor for Origo, an online news source in Budapest, Petho walked out last summer following the sacking of editor-in-chief Gergő Sáling along with political pressures from various angles. Prior to the walk-out, Petho said he felt freest to report between the beginning of his career in 2002 through 2013, because he did not feel certain pressures that are present now.
Petho is now working on a new project, Direkt 36, which he says will provide high-quality investigative journalism to Hungary and international readers through a subscription service. Although its Twitter page displays just 24 tweets so far, the start-up company has gained more than 10,000 followers on Facebook since Petho and co-founders announced its creation last week.
The responsiveness of the public and the willingness to crowd-fund the project surprised Petho in the beginning, but he is excited to see where the project goes from here.
Petho hopes to preserve professionalism and the highest standards of journalism in this new venture.
Petho also studied at the University of Maryland as a Humphrey Fellow and soon after earned a spot on the Sunday front page of the Washington Post with a collaborative investigative report.
Later on in the day, Group 2 and company traveled to the office of Nepszabadsag, one of the country’s largest newspapers. Editor Gabor Horvath spoke about the struggle newspapers are facing with the ever omnipresent social media and Internet pressures.
“The dinosaurs died out, not because they were big or slow, but because they couldn’t adapt,” he said.
Despite warning us of the instability of holding a job in journalism, both Horvath and his fellow editors plan to continue printing with many changes being made in marketing and production techniques.
After a long day on the pedestrian streets of Budapest, in and out of bakeries, we all met with journalist, Balint Szlanko, for dinner at Evidens Bistro. Having worked for the Associated Press, Al Jazeera, USA Today and many other publications, Szlanko has traveled to many countries in conflict as a war correspondent.
His depth of experience and frontline stories captivated the table for much of the evening, even as he nonchalantly slipped into the conversation that Syrian rebel fighters had ‘mistakenly’ kidnapped him while reporting in Syria. Szlanko suggested students prepare for international reporting and war correspondence through proper training in CPR and First-Aid for emergency situations, along with learning how to write well, operate videocameras and take photographs.