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.
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.
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