DEBRECEN - This project aims to develop innovative audience engagement exercises in three  neighboring towns that generate audience growth and strengthens trust in  independent media. The voice of marginalized groups and independent NGOs are not  heard, and opposition views are receiving a biased representation. These groups  and the general population would benefit from this project.

During the project we will focus on 3 cities within Hajdú-Bihar county, where Debreciner aims to extend its network and engage citizens to be active partners and storytellers. Our planned activities:

  • OPEN EDITORIAL MEETINGS (OEMs). Debreciner has a three-year-old,  reliable experience with organizing open editorial meetings in the city of  Debrecen, which are quite successful and well-visited events. Based on those  insights, we are organizing open editorial meetings in all three towns, where  members of the content production team and members of the management  team would also participate. These towns are the largest in the county and  closest to Debrecen.  The open editorial  meetings would be publicly announced and organized in public places (café,  pub), where a presentation about Debreciner to the locals would open discussions about the local interests, their access to news, and their  reporting needs.  
  • EXTENDING OUR NETWORK. Building up a regional network of people  who are interested to join our community as A.) readers, as B.) supporters, or C.)  actively participate in our activities, involving those who could become local  reporters for our journal. 
  • INTERVIEWS. This task is focusing on developing a more robust  understanding regarding the news desert situation in Hajdú-Bihar County with  conducting semi-structured in-depth interviews with people in our new extended  regional network. 
  • LOCAL JOURNALISM AWARD. Parallel to organizing the OEMs we are  announcing a local journalism prize for the best original articles written about  current local issues. Applications are accepted from local citizens. 

Target group

The Hungarian local community living in the city of Debrecen (200.000) and the neighboring towns of the city (Hajdúböszörmény, 30.000; Hajdúszoboszló, 23.000; Balmazújváros 17.000), and generally the whole population of Hajdú- Bihar county (600.000). The whole county is under Fidesz rule with centralized media control. The voice of marginalized groups and independent NGOs are not heard, and opposition views are receiving a biased representation. These groups and the general population would benefit from this project.

Goals of the project

We will have a deeper understanding and public contents about the situation of news deserts nearby Debrecen. Expected results and deliverables:

  • Reports about the Open editorial events in the 3 cities
  • Debreciner podcast content: an interview with a selection of new  contacts about the OEM experiences and the local news desert situation
  • A written report about the news desert situation in the county  that is based on the discussions with the locals at the open editorial  meetings and the results of the in-depth interviews.

There will be a more committed and extended network in other cities nearby Debrecen. Expected results and deliverables:  

  • The three best articles that have been assessed by the editorial  team of Debreciner. 
  • Increased number of people who register in our database
  • New reporter contacts of Debreciner 

About the media outlet

One of the most important aspects of the crisis of Hungarian democracy is the  lack of media pluralism and the hostile environment for the free press. As one of  the early local sites in the development of the Hungarian autocratic system,  Debrecen quickly became aware of the democratic and social deficit, which we  are only able to mitigate with the operation of an independent press that reports  local affairs. In response to this recognition, in the summer of 2018, a group of  committed local patriots decided to initiate a project with creating an  independent, online, local newspaper based on strict professionalism called  Debreciner. The publisher of Debreciner is the Together for Debrecen  Association (Együtt Debrecenért Egyesület, EDE), and in June 2019 the  newspaper was launched.  

Over the past four years, we have managed to stabilize our operations. We are  currently working on expanding the administrative capacity of our organization  and rejuvenating content production and enriching our "new media" materials.  Debreciner has become a recognized local player in the Hungarian independent  media market. In the past year, all our major audience numbers increased  significantly. Currently, we have 51000 followers on Facebook, and according to  Google Analytics we had 600.000 users, 1.600.000 page views in 2022.  

€18.260 allocated on 27/06/2023

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