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  • Dec 27, 2014
  • Updated: 3:22am
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Darkest year 'in decades' for Hong Kong press: Journalists Association

Violence, financial pressure and anonymous government sources thwart reporters; but journalists have plan to combat self-censorship

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 July, 2014, 7:11pm
UPDATED : Monday, 07 July, 2014, 4:41pm

Press freedom has reached its lowest level in decades, according to the Journalists Association.

Violence, financial pressure and an increasing reliance by the government on anonymous sources have all taken their toll, according to the association's annual report. And it expects things to get worse.

"We reckon that Hong Kong's press freedom had its darkest year in several decades," association chairwoman Sham Yee-lan said yesterday. "As political pressure between Hong Kong and Beijing increases, we expect further deterioration in press freedom."

A meat cleaver attack on the former Ming Pao chief editor Kevin Lau Chun-to, the sacking of Commercial Radio talk-show host Li Wei-ling, and advertising boycotts against newspapers such as Apple Daily and am730 were all cited by Sham as troubling incidents over the past year.

Police had also obstructed journalists from covering arrests at the July 2 sit-in in Central, and told them to leave.

"When journalists agreed to go into the press area, layers of police officers formed a human wall in front of them and they couldn't get a clear view of what was happening. We found that unnecessary," said association vice-chairwoman Shirley Yam.

The association has written to Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung and its representatives will meet the police public relations branch today to demand future protests are not handled in the same way.

The report found self-censorship was also a problem. The association announced it was setting up a monitoring committee, made up of eight journalists, academics and lawyers, to investigate self-censorship complaints.

Some news editors had already expressed their support of the committee, said Sham, as it would give them a bargaining chip with managers when faced with censorship.

The report noted an increase in the government's use of anonymous sources to release information - a method that meant officials could not be held accountable for what they said.

The increase was particularly evident in English newspapers - such sources featured in an average 3.8 articles a day in 2010; this had increased to five a day between March and May this year.

Mak Yin-ting, of the association's press freedom subcommittee, criticised officials such as Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah for using blogs to release information. Details of public policies should be explained at press conferences, where questions could be asked, said Mak, who said there had been no improvement despite complaints to the Information Services Department three years ago.

The government replied that it respected and treasured press freedom, and that officials held press conferences frequently.

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43

This article is now closed to comments

Will.I.Am
Complete nonsense! Look at the s hit that's being written by every joe in the name of journalism, it's very rare to find good and well written article nowadays. Everything is being sensationalised so that they sell more.
cleareye
Indeed it has been the darkest for journalism. I fail to find any newsworthy journalism in Hong Kong. The ecosystem is filled with bias writers or anchors delivering their opinions to the public. Would you find terms like "Broom Head" or "Evil Leung" in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, or CNN? When SCMP statistically estimated only 150,000 marched on July 1, the politicians and news insist it to be 510,000, which is about 7 World Cup stadium seats in Rio or 13 in Hong Kong stadium. News is supposedly delivered as neutral as possible, otherwise it is called tabloids.
ngsw
No matter which countries and no mattter what times, journalists all over the world in all circumstances keep on and on complain they are losing freedoms. Have you ever heard any one of them saying that they are free? Never. See how the anti-CCP media lies, creates news, distorts news. See how a 150k figure can be lied to 510k?
chaz_hen
To all the genius 50 centers that consistently comment on how the media need to be restrained because they're sensationalist "cowboys" or that they'll be glad to see the PLA come in to crush the spoiled Occupy Central people and think HKPD should get more aggressive and abusive against marchers, well, I really hope you are the ones that'll have to live day-in and day-out in the new, improved, 100% CCP controlled "ASIA'S WORLD CITY"...
(oh...and by then those that you shout out to "leave if you don't like it" will wisely already have, leaving you the joys of dealing with human sh*t and p*ss on the sidewalks)
scmpgt
People who don't appreciate the HK journalist association should move to the mainland. PRC news lie to you like you have zero IQ, and tell wonderful fairy tales every day.
sng7444
Most journalists nowadays exergerated news too much, sone even make up misleading stories and some unethical and lack of intregrity. Many tries to make a name in this field no other purpose than for financial gain.
What the public want is the truthful reporting, nuetral and no biases newspaper. The news you reported can help and also can destroy an entity or society.
pliu
Journalists are talking a load of ****! There is now too much press freedom that journalists and news editors have forgotten about maintaining high standards of professionalism, editorial balance and giving both sides of the argument equal news time. The Government is being attacked left, right and centre by the free press and yet these idiots are saying there is a lack of press freedom in Hong Kong.
Just look at the totally biased news coverage received by young activists and so-called democratic legislators concerning the new towns development, July 1st demonstrations, and Occupy Central vote. I think TVB News, RTHK, and most of the free press have sunk to a new low in news reporting and editorial standards. And Sunday's City Forum organized by RTHK was the worse I have seen - what has happened to bi-partisan representation?!!!
To all the journalists in Hong Kong - STOP COMPLAINING AND GET YOUR OWN HOUSE IN ORDER!
lib_prc

For them journalism is not news reporting...it's their show...
CatInAFlap
This is through the looking glass territory. What if the self-censoring journalist self-censors his or her complaint to the HKJA journalism over-lords? And anyway, what self-respecting, self-censoring hack is going to admit, on-the-record, that they are guilty of having no balls or the female equivalent? All of this renders this 'monitoring committee' - suspiciously Orwellian name - meaningless. Looks to me like a self-serving gesture by an incestuous group of people who talk a good game but who find the actual job of on-the-ground journalism a bit too tiresome and difficult. Stop wasting time playing the oh so brave heroes of freedom and get back to the coalface of truth where it really matters, struggling to break stories, grappling day-to-day with officialdom and business PR **** and often having to settle for a story that isn't perfect but is the best you can do. If you really cared about press freedom HKJA, your campaigns should be for higher wages, proper journalistic contracts and truly professional training. There lies the bedrock of press freedom. But they don't get your face on the telly, do they?
raymondspchu
No faith in Hong Kong journalists. Reports are mostly biased. This posting will probably be removed within minutes!

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