Atlatszo.hu is a watchdog NGO and a center for investigative journalism to promote transparency, accountability, and freedom of information in Hungary. Established in 2011, atlatszo.hu – “atlatszo” means transparent in Hungarian – produces investigative reports, accepts information from whistleblowers, files freedom of information requests, and commences freedom of information lawsuits in cases where its requests are refused.
In 2016 our websites reached a regular readership of 300-500,000 unique visitors monthly, or 5% of the total Hungarian population at least once a week (Google Analytics, Medián Research). Our Facebook page reached more than 85,000 followers by the end of the year.
Other Hungarian media: online, print and electronic outlets referenced our articles a total of 3,636 times in 2016. Átlátszó was present in the Hungarian media through more than 500 current or previous issues in 2016 – reports the media analysis prepared by IMEDIA Kft. The brand was mentioned a total of 698 times in the print media and 252 times in radio and television programmes.
The most active print newspapers included Magyar Nemzet and Népszava, while the radio and television channels showing the most interest were Klub Rádió, HírTV and RTL Klub.
Quaterly media monitoring reports proved, that in terms of impact, referring to newsworthy atlatszo.hu stories is not only popular with traditionally left-leaning and liberal media outlets (like Népszava, Klub Rádió or ATV), but the right-leaning channels and papers of former pro-government oligarch and Fidesz party treasurer, Lajos Simicska (Hír TV, Lánchíd Rádió, Magyar Nemzet) are among the most frequent referrers of atlatszo.hu articles.
At the same time media outlets created or controlled by or supporting the Hungarian Government are rarely referring to atlatszo.hu at all, or are doing so in a negative, condemnatory way, for example denouncing OSF sponsorship, or accusing atlatszo.hu of „serving foreign interests”.
In the last year Atlatszo.hu has created an interactive open source map that shows where the EU-funding has gone in Hungary. The color-coded feature highlights which areas received the most money during which periods, based on publicly available tender records. Those interested can search by region, township or time period, to determine average funding amounts per capita, or totals for governed cycles.
The database serving as the basis of the feature is available at adat.atlatszo.hu/eu-kereso/ while the map itself can be visited at adat.atlatszo.hu/eu-terkep/. One of the interesting features of the map is the function showing whether government or opposition-led townships fared the best in any given government cycle. The project got shortlisted for the European Press Prize in 2017.
KiMitTud, the online tool implemented by Atlatszo.hu to provide easier access to important public information has also been internationally acknowledged. The system received Austria’s €10,000 Sozial Marie award in recognition of the initiative’s innovative nature and social impact. The Sozial Marie award was granted in recognition of KiMitTud’s innovative nature as well as its social impact.
In 2016 atlatszo.hu was honored to receive the prestigious Pulitzer Memorial Award, the Hungarian prize for quality journalism named after Hungarian-born journalist Joseph Pulitzer. The Hungarian Pulitzer is the only such award outside the United States. Lajos Sipos, head of the foundation responsible for selecting award recipients, commented at the presentation ceremony that the main criterion for the award is to choose outlets and professionals which observe Pulitzer’s guiding principles – that the truth is more important than political loyalties.
In 2016 Atlatszo.hu also received the 2015 Hégető Honorka Video Award founded and curated by the RTL-KLUB television for an investigative video feature on land lease controversies in the Hortobagy region of Hungary, where government redistribution of farmland leases has crippled the livelihoods of established farmers, alongside what appear to be generous pay outs to political allies.
The NGO is financed by nonpartisan and non-governmental sources; we do not accept money from Hungarian state institutions, political parties and affiliates. Individual donors – more than 3000 private citizens – have contributed significantly. Crowdfunding is very important to us, we regularly campaign our readership to donate.
Microdonations and income tax 1 percents offered accounted more than 50% in the 2016 budget. Institutional donors include various programs of the Open Society Foundations, a grant from Fritt Ord, and Visegrad Fund projects. Our 2016 budget was 92 million HUF (cca. 295,000 EUR or 340,000 USD).