Hungarian Spectrum 2007-2013: 2,156 days and 2,000 posts

Readers of this blog didn’t, couldn’t, realize that yesterday was a special day in the history of Hungarian Spectrum. Yesterday I posted the two-thousandth (yes, #2,000) article. My first post appeared on June 27, 2007, almost six years ago. In case anyone is interested in a more precise calculation, there were 2,156 days between June 27 and yesterday. So, there were very few days that Spectrum offered its readers nothing new.

blog.minimonos.com

blog.minimonos.com

Perhaps I should explain why I started the blog in the first place. I became interested in current Hungarian politics in early 1994 when the Internet was in its infancy. There was no possibility of reading newspapers, listening to radio stations, or watching television online. There were no social sites, although people gathered in small groups, mostly centered around Yahoo, to discuss politics or other topics of common interest. Those using AOL had to be very careful how much time they spent online because the basic AOL service was only ten hours a month.

As soon as I had Internet access I signed up for the two or three discussion groups that dealt with Hungary, and eventually I started a group of my own. But it was almost inevitable that the members of these groups would either become tired of one other or bored with the topics members brought up and that eventually these discussion groups would fall apart. Mine didn’t for a very long time, but finally the discussions became less interesting and less instructive and I became increasingly frustrated. I began to feel that I was wasting my time. As a group leader of sorts I felt that I was responsible for keeping the conversation going, and I spent hours combing the Hungarian media to come up with timely topics. Eventually I had to admit that no amount of effort on my part would keep the group discussion vibrant.

It was at this point that a friend of mine said to me: “Why don’t you start a blog? You are wasting your considerable knowledge of Hungarian politics here. You’re reaching very few people who are not even interested in what you have to say.” I knew very little about blogs and had no experience with the kind of writing that one expects from a blogger. My first draft attempt met with scorn: “You’re not writing a historical treatise in a periodical. Loosen up!” Finally, on June 27, 2007 I was ready to go live.

Well, I might have been ready to write a blog but people were not quite ready to read itI don’t remember how long it took before there were even 100 readers a day. I do know that the first days were agonizing. One day there were only nine hits, as it turned out all my own. But eventually there were even comments. I started getting letters telling me that expats and foreign newspapermen in Budapest had become avid readers of Hungarian Spectrum.

Lately there has been some discussion about the purpose of Hungarian Spectrum. I think that first and foremost it should inform people, especially those who don’t know Hungarian, about day to day Hungarian politics. No American, Canadian, British, German, or French paper will ever cover Hungarian affairs in any depth, if at all. Yet, judging from the size of the readership of Hungarian Spectrum today, there are a lot of people out there who are eager to know more about the country.

Second, I think that Hungarian Spectrum as an English-language blog opens the door to a country where information directed at the outside world is scarce, be it official government publications or the messages of the opposition. That’s why I spend a great deal of time translating material. Just lately the decision to translate the Tarlós-Orbán conversation made a difference. Even Portuguese newspapers picked up the story from Hungarian Spectrum. My decision to translate Viktor Orbán’s unfortunate remarks about the German cavalry in the form of tanks was picked up by the German press.

Third, I wouldn’t do all this work if I didn’t enjoy it. I do, and I enjoy the lively discussions that follow the postings.

Hungarian Spectrum is often described as a “liberal blog.” Indeed, it is if by liberal we mean “not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.” I try to present the facts unvarnished, but the opinions expressed are my own. It cannot be otherwise.

Yes, I’m proud of the road we’ve traveled in the last six years: Hungarian Spectrum has become an important source of information on Hungary. It is more than I ever expected. Thank you, dear readers, for your support and your comments.

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Member

Le a kalapot, mert lerepül! Gratulálok és minden tiszteletem az Öné! Nincs olyan nap, hogy ne olvasnám el, amit feltett és egyetértek 100%-ban!!!! Szétküldöm feltehetően (de nem bizonyítottan) kissé lusta barátaimnak és a fidesznyik ellenzéknek is, mert sokan egyszerűen nem kattintanak rá linkre, érdektelenségből.
Sokaknak úgy kell beadni a jó szöveget is, mint a viktor és a koszos bagázs a hazugságait – egyenesen az arcukba (pofájukba) bele! Még egyszer nagyon köszönöm, minden demokratikus gondolkodású barátom nevében is. (Írásos felhatalmazásaik, a köszönet átadásáért, állításaik szerint, postázva lettek!)

nana
Guest

Congratulations Eva!!!! So proud of you and the blog! Wow! You know, I can’t leave work until you don’t post and then I am reading the blog on the way home and when I get home we discuss it with my family.

FransJ
Guest

Well dear Eva, you are really doing something very special and great here. I cannot express how much I like and appreciate your writings/blog! So thank you very very much for your efforts and of course, congratulations!

gdfxx
Guest

“Thank you, dear readers, for your support and your comments.”

You are the one that deserves our gratitude. Thank you!

Guest

Thank you very much, Eva, for keeping us so well informed – and giving us the chance to comment and discuss too!

I don’t remember when I came here (so it must be a few years already …) but your blog is the one place where I can get background info on what’s going on here in Hungary – so please keep up the good work!

And I want to thank also the regular contributors/commenters here who often add info which I couldn’t get anywhere else, so I also hope you will continue reading and commenting!

Nicky
Guest

Congratulations,Eva! You’ve worked very hard,and it has been well worth it,for the difference it has made in people’s lives. I was introduced to your blog by a friend who works for Human Rights Watch,a few months ago,and in turn,I have passed it on to Hungarian friends of mine,who had become very disillusioned by the current political state,and lack of (open)opposition voices. I love your posts,and I love the lively debates which they spark off,even when they get a little heated at times! I’m looking forward to all the future posts,and will continue to recommend them to anyone who wants to know what’s really happening here. Thanks a lot!

Guest

I am so grateful to you, Eva, and to all the commenters–ALL of you. I have been following for a little over 2 years; it is addicting (as Nana says). Again, much gratitude.

tappanch
Guest

I second it. Congratulations for your excellent articles!

————

Oligarchs close to Fidesz want the obtain the remaining non-Fidesz dailies in the countryside and possibly the largest daily in the country before the election campaign officially starts.

http://atlatszo.blog.hu/2013/05/22/guten_morgen_ungarn

petofi
Guest

Well done, Eva, but there’s a major next step and I hope you find a way to do it: translate the discussions into Hungarian. Perhaps a Blog M for Hungarians to respond in their language. It’s the best dissemination of western ideas for Hungarians–hardcore Fideszers or not.

Let’s shine the light into the dark corners of the Hungarian mind! (I couldn’t resist.)

Tamas
Guest

Dear Eva, you wrote “I’m proud of the road we’ve traveled in the last six years” – you really should.You are doing an excellent job. Thank you!

P.I.Hidas
Guest

Happy anniversary Eva!

Peter
Guest

Congratulations, and thanks for all the knowledge you’ve shared with us. Your work is very important for so many of us.

a3t
Guest

Congratulations, Eva!

Erika Siegfried-Tompson
Guest
Erika Siegfried-Tompson

Dear Eva, many many thanks to you for all your hard work! Your articles are fantastic, succinct, informative, authentic and enjoyable. Many of us, who can read Hungarian, still love to have your to-the-point summaries, we read them, pass them to friends, share them on Facebook. They are invaluable as information for non-Hungarian-speakers. Thank you again.

Ms KKA
Guest

On behalf of all of the Magyar-challenged of the world, I salute you, and thank from the bottom of my heart for your never-waivering efforts to explain and expose Hungary in all of its delicious facets. I became a lover of all things Hungarian when I visited Budapest in July of 1969, but didn’t really become involved politically until the new media “law” was passed. Having your English language information has been incredibly helpful in my efforts to singlehandedly save Hungary from the Nazis! 😉
Go valiantly on, dearest Éva!

Spectator
Guest

Thank you Eva being a steady intellectual beacon all these years!

Frog
Guest

Congratulations and please keep up the good work!!

Kim Lane Scheppele
Guest

Eva, you have provided “one-stop shopping” in English for all those who want to know what is happening in Hungary. Your excursions into history are immensely helpful, your summaries and engagement with the Hungarian press are inspirational, and your tireless work on behalf of your grateful readers is very much appreciated by all of us. And I wanted to give a special thanks for all of that hard work you did to move the WHOLE blog and not just the new posts to this new platform so that we can all use the handy search engine on the site to find articles long after you have written them. You are not only covering the present, but creating an archive – like the wonderful historian you are!

grantbg
Guest

It’s a great blog, and I find it indispensable reading, thank you for writing it, and big applause on reaching 2,000!

Frog
Guest

Tappanch: yes, and Fidesz will soon buy TV2, Origo (when MT will sell it once it is a bit more profitable), Nepszabadsag and regional internet sites as well.

There remains effectively no mass media that would be independent and would cover current and controversial events. (Whereas Fidesz controlled media are not just “right leaning” but diseaminate outright Fidesz propaganda, compared to Fidesz mediia Fox News is run by godless communists).

Remember, Index and Origo only reach between them less than 1m people (out of 8m voters), so they cannot be considered as mass media like commercial TV or radio (all of them owned by Fidesz or the government or forced to cover only car crashes and the likes but not politics).

But the Hungarian left is the most neutered, visionless bunch ever to walk on the face of the earth.

Fidesz meanwhile never misses an opportunity to increase their market share (but of course, all deals will comply with competition and media laws, as they are focused, smart lawyers and have pals at the relevant authorities, but again they had vision and discipline).

Bowen
Guest

Thank you very very much for this consistently invaluable source of news and information.

Sandor
Guest

Felicitations, congratulations and lots of thanks.
I sit here in Budapest, see the whole sad and macabre comedy up close and the evening I open your blog to see what is happening in truth.
Your creation is invaluable and does more to Hungary’s credit than the entire “communication department” of the government.
Somebody must keep to the facts, keep a sober outlook and tell truth to the ever more belligerent power. And Eva, you are it.
Thanks

Kirsten
Guest

Thank you Éva for the constant dedication and the high standard of the blog. I started to read it in 2009, around the time Ferenc Gyurcsany was replaced as prime minister because it was such a good source in English about the events. And as you see, I am still reading your blog. So I hope that you will enjoy writing about Hungary and maintaining this forum in the future also!

cheshire cat
Guest

Congratulations, Eva!

I started reading the blog when I noticed my (English) husband reading it, to catch up on what’s happening in Hungary.

I love your incredible thoroughness and attention to detail. I’m Hungarian and I can read Hungarian press, but none of it seems this objective and compact.

The blog also stands out with the civilized style of comments. Yes, heated sometimes, but it doesn’t turn into the obscene generalization, character assassination and stereotyping that is so familiar from other Hungary-related blogs and articles. Also, the comments often provide exciting extra information.
This is all your achievement, because you set the standards, the quality and the tone of the discussions – and it is quite rare that you have to discipline someone for being offensive (or swearing).

Thank you very much, and keep up the good work!

Wondercat
Guest

A practical question from an admirer: You have emotional support in good measure — pressed down, and shaken together, and running over / jó mértéket, megnyomottat és megrázottat. So: How can one support the finances of HS?

Minusio
Guest

Smack, Éva! As a father of a historian, I know what it takes. And to read Sandor’s comment really touches me. On the other hand, one might ask why there aren’t more like you around?

This is the really frightening thing.

As you know, I really wish you very, very well.

Steven Fenves
Guest

Thank you for your effort. I read your column almost every day; it is truly my only source of information on Hungary.
To put myself in context: I was born in Subotica (to my generation the name Szabadka applies only to the occupation years 1941-1944) where my father was editor of the Hungarian-language newspaper Napló. We were deported in 1944 with the help of the Hungarian csedőrők to Auschwitz, where my mother perished. After the liberation, my sister and I returned to Yugoslavia and left in 1947, after our father’s death; we came to the US in 1950. I spent my professional career in academia.

Minusio
Guest

Afterthought. Someone mentioned that having this blog translated into Hungarian might have a huge influence on Hungarian readers. We, ‘normal’ participants won’t profit from it, and it would be a huge effort. But wouldn’t it be worthwhile – as long as Orbán hasn’t cut the Internet connection?

And then there was the idea of sponsoring HS. My means are limited, but If I could have a standing order to sponsor such an effort, I would do so. Preferably bu PayPal. [My girlfriend sponsors Klubrradio.]

petofi
Guest

I would help sponsor a shadow Hungarian Spectrum in translation….

Frog
Guest

The potential Hungarian readers of this blog already read HVG/444.hu/origo/index and often can speak English, in other words, they are rather well informed to begin with. They are exactly the small minority (törpe minoritás, for those who remember this term) who are independent-minded and curious. The Fideszniks won’t read this blog whatever you do.

I mean although often I think the recap of events is much better on this blog than what one can find anywhere in Hungarian, the marginal value of getting a handful of extra readers (who otherwise don’t read the above listed, more or less independent internet media outlets) would still be small, compared to the efforts of translation.

I guess the number of followers who get automatic updates increased nicely anyway and this is a forum for intellectuals mostly, it will never be mass media.

Minusio
Guest

@ Frog.

My feeling is, it’s rather the other way round. Most readers here are interested in Hungarian current affairs but don’t understand enough Hungarian – or are not proficient enough to write in Hungarian (like me).. I, for one, don’t, although I have a Hungarian, educated girlfriend, I adore. But we have to speak English.

Whether the “Fideszniks” are reading this, we really don’t know. We do have the occasional trolls here who quickly feel uncomfortable, because the tone of conversation seems to be a little above their educational level. In addition, they are not generally able to follow an intellectual discourse. A discourse needs a give and take – and most importantly: mutual respect.

Fidesz utterings are not a discourse – and they lack any sense of respect. This offers no basis for any cohabitation. In contrast, it fosters this deadly polarisation we find only in a few countries nowadays.

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