E1va Balogh writes:
> Well, my first reaction was that if Mr. Rosenthal considers the opinion of
> Ferenc Dea1k, "the sage of the nation" stupid, what he must think of the rest
> of us :).
Well here is the literal quote:
MaNcs: Egy hi1res XIX sza1zadi politikus, Dea1k Ferenc azt mondta, hogy
egymondatos sajto1to2rve1nyre volna szu2kse1g: arra, hogy tilos legyen
Rosenthal: Ekkora marhasa1got e1letemben nem hallottam. Ami az egyiknek
hazugsa1g, az a ma1siknak igaz. Ha tilos hazudni, ve1ge a
sajto1szabadsa1gnak; a vita1t eldo2nto3 szo1 kimonda1sa elo3tt ki mondja meg
mi az igazsa1g?
> But seriously, Andras, it is hard to see how you could possibly
> defend the piece of so-called investigative jourmalism
No I don't think I can defend that particular piece. But I can still defend
the general idea that it is better for the occasional bad piece to get
published than to miss a coup. If 168 O1ra gets in the habit of regularly
publishing pieces they have to retract, it will soon be a case of The Boy
Who Cried Wolf -- they lose their credibility, and soon they lose their
readers. It is in their best interest to maintain stricter quality control,
and I think Mester knows this.
> she praises the *Wall Street
> Journal* as the most reliable paper in the United States. And she is not a
> conservative Republican but a liberal Democrat.
I also find the WSJ to be a considerably better paper than the NYT.
> But let me return to the case under discussion. I am sure that the only
> reason this particular alleged shady business is covered in *168 o1ra,* a
> political weekly, is because the journalist involved suspected a connection
> between the former government and the owner of the company, Tibor To1th.
I agree, but I don't see anything wrong with this. I want them to pursue
shady deals of the MSZP/SZDSZ politicos with the same zeal -- in fact with
greater zeal, now that they are in power.
> The four so-called proofs are no proofs; moreover, one of them,
> the alleged letter from Foreign Minister Ge1za Jeszenszky to Tibor To1th,
> turned out to be totally bogus.
But were it from Jeszenszky, it would have been dynamite, wouldn't you
agree? Does anybody remember who were the successful investigative
journalists of the past five years? Who caught "Dunagate", the arms sale
scandal, the headquarters scandal, Lupis, and all the other genuine
scandals? Who published the Ko1nya essay and the MDF postmortem?
I actually don't remember 168 O1ra playing a major role in these...
> The "young and talented" journalist was so sloppy that he took a
> letter simply signed Ge1za and accepted it as proof of Jeszenszky's
And Mester accepted the blame and apologized. I don't see what's so
terrible about this, unless it becomes a regular thing, in which case
the readership will be increasingly disappointed and eventually people
will cancel their subscriptions.
> Andras claims, along with A1kos Mester, that these poor Hungarian journalists
> are simply learning the tools of the trade. They are unfamiliar with the
> rules of investigative journalism. Moreover, they are being mislead.
I never said the last one. People will of course try to mislead them
and plant damaging stuff, but they should be very much aware of this.
> Sorry, I
> can't buy this. I am no journalist, I haven't ever been involved in any
> investigative journalism, but common sense tells me that if I receive a
> letter signed simply Ge1za I have to find out who that Ge1za is. I can't take
> someone else's word for it. I must check my sources. And surely it is not
> terribly difficult to double check the signature of a public figure.
Remember Howard Hughes' diaries, and Adolf Hitler's? Such things happened
before, on a much grander scale, to hard-nosed western journalists and
editors, and it is hard to believe no press report will ever again carry
> No, I don't think that there can be any excuse. Without extensive experience
> with investigative journalism one must be intelligent enough to know some
> basic rules of the game. It shows inexcusable incompetence or bias, or, both.
> But definitely imcompetence.
So you don't think incompetence is an excuse?-)
> P.S. By the way, I would be very grateful if you could summarize for us the
> "bunch of results from a new sociological survey of journalists." You may
> recall that I talked about how useful such a survey would be. Please, share
> it with us. EB
The summary quotes a 1981 survey that already demonstrated that the
profession is fairly closed in the sense that most journalists came from
families of intellectuals [e1rtelmise1gi]. By 1992 this tendency was even
more marked, with only 7% of journalists coming from families where the
father was a blue-collar worker [fizikai foglalkoza1su1]. In 1981, 27% of
journalists were born in some village, in 1992, only 15% (38% of Hungarians
live in villages). 52% of journalists started high school in Budapest, 38%
at county seats [megyesze1khely] and only 18% in small towns. 85% of those
who got their high school diploma [e1rettse1gi] in Budapest (often they
started in the countryside and finished in Budapest, seldom in the other
direction) did so in the central districts, with the II, V, VI, and VIII
districts contributing over 50%. Currently 63% has a humanities degree
[bo2lcse1szdiploma], this was actually higher in 1981 (68%). 16% speaks no
foreign languages, 36% speaks one, 29% speaks two, 12% speaks three, 4%
speaks more than 3 foreign languages. This looks good, but if you take the
actual level of proficiency into account, only one journalist in four knows
one language well, and only 10% knows two languages well enough to use it in
their work. 45% of them takes freedom of the press to be complete, 50% to be
incomplete, and 4% to be nonexistent -- similar figures were found in a
nationwide representative survey (that is, journalists and non-jurnalists
agree). 30% of journalists mentioned pressure from the government, 30%
mentioned pressure from their editors and from the owners. 53% thinks there
are still some taboo subjects that the public cannot be fully informed
about, and interestingly, almost 50% of those who think that there is
complete freedom of the press think there are taboo subjects. "A kogniti1v
disszonancia kutata1sa1ra a felme1re1s nem terjedt ki."