BUZe kontrovers
Studentische Initiativen
Im Gespräch mit...
Aus den Fakultäten
Buschlinger ist sauer
Der Nestbeschmutzer
Kategorie Internationales
Ausgabe Exklusiv Online
Autor Fabio Reinhardt

Interview with Péter Radics, the editor of UnivPécs

ungarische FlaggeThe city of Pécs, lying in the south-western part of Hungary, is host of the biggest university of Hungary and will be the cultural capital of Europe in the year 2010. A title whose German couterpart was given to Essen over Braunschweig. Each year the city finds itself invaded by many foreign languages and people, when the annually International Culture Week in Pécs is being held.

The student festival ICWiP (for more infos about the topic also see this article), taking place from July 19th to 29th, is not only known as an international meeting place for Singles - it also offers a broad variety of cultural and informative aspects. After arriving there this year, I soon found out that the whole event is covered live by the local student newspaper UnivPécs, that acted under the alias ICWiP Journal. I sat down with Péter Radics, one of the editors, to talk about the origins of UnivPécs and its connection to the festival.

General questions

How old is UnivPécs and why was it founded?

UnivPécs was founded in the year 2000. It is no coincidence that in the same year the University of Pécs came officially into existence by merging the former two universities of Pécs. Now Pécs is host of the largest university in Hungary by number of students. The foundation of a student newspaper was part of the new market strategy the vice rector for marketing had developed at that time.

How often is the newspaper published?

UnivPécs is published every second week (except for the period of the summer break) in a print run of 12.000 copies. The newspaper is distributed for free in all unversity buildings which is very difficult to manage because the university is so old and has a complex structure in both Pécs and the surrounding cities. In addition it is also laid out in public places like cafés, cinemas or theaters, discos and bars.


Who´s working for UnivPécs?

Our staff is constantly changing and so does the number of its members. For some issues we have around 10, for some around 20 people contributing. We have four or five photographers, who are also students. The staff consists of 95% students who are non-professionals. They do the newspaper work either to gain experience or just for fun. I am responsible for the content. Éva Harkán is the editor in chief. She works as a professional for the newspaper and is paid by the university. She is involved in strategic affairs like contacts to other media, dealing with the publisher, financing and other things. We have our own room with some decent equipment including five computers.


How do you finance the newspaper?

About half of the budget is used to print the issues. This is the part the university pays for. The rest is covered by advertisments.

I´m sure that´s helping a lot. With our own student newspaper in Braunschweig, the "BUZe", we need to save around 90 % of our budget for the costs of the printing process because our university does not support us in a financial way.

It used to be more expensive but we outsorced the printing process and now we print in the Eastern part of Hungary where it´s much cheaper. We organized an open tender for it and this printer in the Eastern part won the competition. We achieved a further cost reduction by printing on the same cheap paper that tabloid newspapers like Berliner Zeitung or Hamburger Morgenpost use.

Target audience

What would you consider your target audience?

Obviously we want the students of our university to read the newspaper, but it is also for pupils that might soon have to choose a university. Right from the start one of our main aims was to present the multicultural and diverse student life at the university of Pécs. We want to show how students contribute to the scientific and techonological progress in this region, how they work, how they live, what problems they have and what they like or dislike about the city. And with Pécs becoming Cultural Capital of Europe in 2010 it has also become more important to focus on the city's cultural life, which is in many ways connected to the university - especially to the faculty of arts.

So mainly your goal is to convince young people to study at all and further on to convince them of the qualities their local university has to offer?

Yes, but it is also about any kind of people that might become interested in dealing with the university in any way. For example as a sponsor or a partner. Moreover, the hospitals in Hungary are owned by the universities and their medical faculties. The audience in this sense could also be the doctors and nurses. It really is a large university. The spectrum of sciences and arts is wide and so is the spectrum of our readers.

Freedom of the press

You put the university, which is also the main sponsor, into a very positive light. Is there some room left for criticism of things you don´t like at your university?

We are not shy to criticise. In every issue we are dealing with several topics that in our view need to be changed and improved. It is also a very good instrument of internal communication. For the heads of our university, it is very hard to get feedback, especially from the students. So the newspaper can really close a gap there.

And how far can you go if you don't agree with your university´s course until your rector decides to cut your funding?

I´m sure that this kind of system sets us up with certain limits. These limits are not official of course, but it´s obvious that there are some. And we always try to stretch these limits. We are arguing a lot with the heads about their plans for our university. But in the end I think it is a question of culture and of mentality. There have been cases where people have rang our editor in chief or our rector and complained about one of the articles. I don´t want to be too idealistic – of course there cannot be direct attacks to the heads of the university. But in comparison we are pretty independent in writing and printing what we want. This holds especially true if you look at the other newspapers in the region. We are not dependent on companies, not dependent on politics.

What if somebody in your staff wants to criticise a party for their recent actions?

We have a policy of not dealing with political issues. We wouldn´t do rallies or campaigning, but if there is a political issue that concerns our students´ lifes, then we can write about it. For example we have taken a clear stand against the recent raise of the tuition fees. And in this case the cooperation with the rector is very good.

How do you get people interested in working for the newspaper?

Mainly people are being attracted by the experience they can collect. Working at our newspaper is also useful to get new and better connections. We organize events and parties to get in contact with people that are interested, and we also place advertisements in every one of our issues. It also helps that we have received several awards for our past works.

What kind of awards?

Here in Hungary we have an organization that is called the association for student media. Certain categories like „best picture“ or „best interview“ are being awarded by the association each year. One or two people work full-time there – the rest of the work is done voluntarily. The student newspapers of all of Hungary meet once a year on a conference in which the prizes are being awarded, experiences exchanged and so on. In 2006 UnivPécs has been awarded with prizes in three categories.

Cooperation with ICWiP

UnivPécs is cooperating with the ICWiP for the time of the festival. In 2000 when media was the theme of choice for ICWiP there had already been some kind of cooperation. But until 2006 there hasn´t been anymore contact between the organizers and the university, which is also a sponsor of the festival. For the ICWiP issues I am technically in charge as long as Éva is not here. Five people work full-time on the ICWiP journal to be able to publish the issues every second day and cover as much of the event as possible. There are only 400 issues that are distributed among the participants of the festival.

Thanks a lot, Péter, for finding the time for this interview. On behalf of the whole team I wish you good luck with your studies and your work with the newspaper.