University of British Columbia School of Journalism director Peter Klein has written an open letter to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, as published today by The Globe and Mail. In it, he lambasts Orbán for changes to the Hungarian constitution he recently made, which effectively squelch free press

University of British Columbia School of Journalism director Peter Klein has written an open letter to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, as published today by The Globe and Mail. In it, he lambasts Orbán for changes to the Hungarian constitution he recently made, which give media control to the government, effectively squelch free press:

I know you’re a student of history, and you surely know that a vibrant media is a vital component of the kind of free and open society you championed in your early days. But when, on New Year’s weekend, 100,000 Hungarians took to the streets to protest against your controversial new constitution, Hungarian state TV didn’t bother covering the story – a stark reminder of how that broadcaster functioned in the bad old days of Communism.

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Klein cites Orbán’s willingness to pull the license of media supporting opposition points of viewas well as the complete lack of coverage by state media of hunger strikes and sweeping demonstrations against the constitutional changes, saying “As a journalism professor, I would send those state reporters back to the classroom. Either they don’t know a good story when they see one, or they’ve lost their journalistic moral compass.” That, or they have been deterred from covering it.

According to the 2011-2012 Press Freedom Index, released yesterday by Reporters Without Borders, Hungary is ranked 40th — down from 23rd in 2010. Its fall is based on these constitutional changes that have given government control over the media. “The precedent set by this legislation, adopted with little comment from other EU member states, has further dented the European model’s credibility,” the Press Freedom report states.