eDemokrácia Műhely Egyesület
The Print-it-Yourself project was launched in response to the Hungarian government's near-total control over the media. Our goal is to provide fact-based, non-partisan news for the Roma and non-Roma population living in rural areas. Inspired by guerrilla communication strategies, our newspaper can be downloaded, printed and circulated by volunteer activists. Before the last election in 2018, we managed to distribute more than a million copies across the country.
100 small towns and villages in Hungary
Even if using the internet, residents in small towns and villages do not read or watch political content online. Strong fear and political inactivity characterizes these places, where civil society is virtually nonexistent. Publishing an independent weekly which covers local as well as national issues, and involving local residents into the distribution will strengthen local democracy, press freedom and active citizenship.
Our target audience includes citizens living in small Hungarian towns and villages (with a population less than 5,000 inhabitants), isolated from fact-based information. Besides other marginalized groups (low income, no internet access, senior citizens), we will focus on the Roma community living in segregated neighborhoods. Due to their particular socio-economic status (their lower level of income, education and participation in political activities), special issues for Roma will contain information of special interest.
● Step 1: Project planning
This project will have special importance in the preparations of the up-coming primary elections in 2021 and then in the the general election of 2022 April.
● Step 2: Extending our volunteer activist network
Based on our experience from the last few years, one of the most efficient methods to strengthen and extend our activist network has been the launch of locally embedded Print-it-Yourself collectives. In fact, most of the headquarters became self-sustaining, organizing the printing tasks and distribution by themselves. In order to form these groups, however, we have to identify community leaders in every single county and major city in Hungary.
● Step 3: Preparation of 26 issues in 6 months
We will continue to edit and circulate our weekly summarizing news deliberately ignored by state-controlled outlets. The issues are prepared by the editorial team of the association.
● Step 4: On-site education in 100 villages
We will visit the new activist in the new settlements and do together the first distribution routes.
● Step 5: In-person monitoring in 100 villages
During the half-year project, we will visit the new activist in the new settlements and analyze/evaluate together the results and problems.
● Step 6: Evaluation and final reports
Our goals are clear and quantifiable: to circulate copies of Print-it-Yourself in at least 100 new small towns and villages, reaching 250,000 citizens across Hungary. Shifts in attitudes will start in these circles which are flooded by state-controlled fake news on a daily basis.
According to a survey by the Median Institute, as early as in six weeks, 8-10 percent of people changed their opinion on certain issues reading our paper. These results can prove to the entire society that it is indeed possible to combat pro-government propaganda outlets.
Moreover, communities established around the distribution will provide an experience of active citizenship at the local level. We are confident that we will be able to initiate change in these 100 settlements, including 5 Romani communities
Distributing our weekly requires a large number of volunteers. Issues edited by the central staff must be printed in thousands of copies and delivered to every single post box in small settlements. In a village of 1000 residents, this can be done by two people. But in a town of 5000, it needs at least ten. Working together, members of such distribution groups not only get formed into small communities but also gain experience in stepping up for the freedom of press and democracy.
Janos L. Laszlo, the co-founder and chief editor of Print-it-Yourself, has more than thirty years of experience in journalism and political communication. Between 1992 and 2000, he was the editor of the Hungarian politics section of the largest progressive newspaper known as Magyar Hirlap. He is a member of the National Association of Hungarian Journalists. In the last three years, he personally visited hundreds of small settlements in the country, and he had the opportunity to talk to thousands of people.
Tibor Sas, marketing-manager, with 20+ yeas of marketing, and content distribution. Former secretary general of AJE, the Hungarian Database Copyright Association.
Erika Orban, distribution manager, with 5+ years experience of activist network building.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
13 600 Travel and accommodation
15 600 Printing
4 320 Marketing
We are interested in all of the comments and notes, especially the experiences of similar initiatives. We are interested in the ideas how to fight for press freedom and democracy.