– What do you like writing about the most?
– About what is being left out of the news.
– Well, that is awesome, indeed. But beware, if you have a job, you might not have it for long.
This conversation took place a year ago in a journalism seminar held in the vicinity of the city of Brasov (Brassó), when as part of our introduction, each of us had to name what we liked most about journalism. And even though I wasn’t aware of it at the time, the idea of launching Átlátszó Erdély (Transparent Transylvania) project had started there.
Átlátszó Erdély (Transparent Transylvania) is a community which is aware that it has become increasingly difficult to investigate significant events and publish articles about them, while „communication specialists” deal with pseudo topics and events that are not worthy of being mentioned.
We are an open community made up of activists an journalists who are interested in topics that are barely mentioned in the Romanian or the Hungarian mainstream media of Transylvania and, when mentioned, it is with hesitation.
It concerns all of us what our taxes are spent on
Topics of interest include following how tax money is spent, examining the business interests of public figures and the way they acquire and accumulate wealth; investigating into the ownership of large investments that in most cases are breaching the law; keeping in sight topics and social contradictions, that in a traditional newspaper environment, due to the constant daily demands remain unexplored.
We think that this is an important aspect, because decisions related to public money and concerning the future of the Hungarian minority living in Transylvania should not be made behind closed doors in the context of informal talks; the community should be provided with factual information in order to enable its participation in the decision making process.
The kind of journalism that does not aim at being comfortable
Átlátszó Erdély wants to be that kind of journalism that does not aim at being comfortable. You shouldn’t expect us to refresh our website by publishing insignificant news, or to participate in the rush of being the first to publish a press release, or to reedit interesting news taken from other sources in order to maintain the level of views and the number of page visitors. We are not interested in publishing materials that are based on „He/she said, he/she declared”, and we are not concerned with being in the front row at press releases.
We dig deep
Instead of just scratching the surface or being cautious because of the various interests involved, we dig deep. And because we do not aim at participating in the cacophony of the news portals, we will only publish when we have something meaningful to share.
This does not mean that we do not have an opinion of our own, but we abstain from sharing it with our readers. There is already enough opinion sharing in the Transylvanian Hungarian Press.
Instead of promoting opinion-based journalism, we would like to introduce techniques that are unknown to the public or on the brink of disappearance.
Documents of public interest, fieldwork
Our methods include looking up documents of public interest, data processing, archival and field work, constant communication with sources, verifying contents of background discussions and of statements that appear in the media.
We will write about topics even when others have already forgotten about it. This is important because many investigations grind to a halt because on the long term, the media doesn’t dedicate enough attention to them.
We would also like to experiment with providing information in a new formats, data-driven journalism. We publish our articles in Hungarian, but many of our materials will be translated into English and Romanian, because we think that it is very important to represent ourselves in the national and international press, to collaborate with well known journalism workshops and to work and publish jointly.
Nowadays, stories with implication on a local level only are very rare
International collaboration is very important because nowadays stories that have implication only on a local level are very rare: money does not know frontiers and following their path towards international context might provide us with many suprising connections.
We believe that our locally grounded knowledge combined with the technical know-how and routine of great journalists will lead to publishing quality material.
Anyone can join
The team of Átlátszó Erdély is open to anyone interested in investigative journalism. We will share our knowledge and experience with you and will make our library and contacts accessible to all our journalist colleagues. We offer our assistance in case you might have any questions related to any given topic.
We do not aim at „maintaining good relations” with anybody
Átlátszó Erdély refuses any support from political parties, irrespective of the sides they belong to. We do not have and do not wish to have any secret supporters in exchange of serving their needs. We will not aim at revealing truths only about one of the sides and we do not aim at „maintaining good relations” with any of them.
The three founding members, Ufó Zoltán Egyed, László Mihály and Zoltán Sipos payed the registration fees and other costs required for the launching out of their own pockets. All three of them are well known journalists in the Transylvanian Hungarian media, having published several articles in investigative journalism.
The Átlátszó Erdély project is in a small part funded by the Hungarian investigative journalism website, Atlatszo.hu; but we apply for funding to international foundations that support investigative journalism.
We accept community donations
In order to raise funding for the project, community donations will have a significant part. We would like our readers to donate small amounts of money to the Átlátszó Erdély Egyesület (Transparent Transylvania Association).
Money can be donated via PayPal or wired directly to our bank account. You will find all necessary information at the end of each article, and we will also guide you through all necessary steps regarding how you can support us.
We guarantee the transparency of the use of donations
We will issue a yearly report on the incoming donations and the articles funded. Only by funding our project with donations of private individuals can we ensure our independence and guarantee that no interest groups, advertisers, other funding providers, or owners acquire influence over the published contents. This is the only way that Átlátszó Erdély can serve its community.
Zoltán Sipos, translation: Etelka Tamás-Blaha
Our bank account:
Asociatia “Atlatszo Erdely Egyesulet”
SUC. CLUJ OTP BANK ROMANIA
Cod BIC: OTPVROBU