Journalism with handicap

Thinking about my internship in Hungary I realized one thing: You can’t be a journalist in a country where you don’t speak the national language, as journalism relies on nothing more than words. Very simple, but I didn’t think about it before. I mean, I was aware of the problem. But I did not really THINK about what it implies. Here’s a few disadvantages I have because I don’t speak Hungarian.

Without being able to talk to locals how can you understand the people? English is a world language now, but here only the educated people can properly communicate on it. So speaking to the elite of a country does not show you what the thousands of others think.

If you aren’t able to read the stuff they publish on the national media – how can you form an opinion? To understand a different nation it’s not enough to know what is reported about this country abroad. There is a tendency of the media to only report about “others” if there is something going wrong. It’s natural. But of course these negative news are not everything. There is more and I think it’s always interesting to hear how locals judge things, how they justify certain actions, how they criticize things (if they do it at all)… Afterwards I may decide to have a different opinion, but I want to hear what they say!

Also I can’t judge the Hungarian media themselves. I am really interested in topics like press freedom and I heard a lot of negative things about the Hungarian media politics and the media being not independent, following the doctrines of their “preferred” political parties. But I would like to assure myself about it. I would like to read the Hungarian newspapers and I would like to understand what they say on the radio. It is frustrating that I’m not able to do my job – at least not good enough. I talk to Germans, I write about art exhibitions and advice for tourists in Budapest. I came here to just gather some experience abroad, and that was successful. But I want more now and I can’t get it.

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