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Wang Chau housing saga

Poll reveals trust in Hong Kong’s news media has hit 10-year low, HKU study shows

Overall credibility falls with almost half believing the main outlets are involved in self-censorship

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 October, 2016, 10:56pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 October, 2016, 10:06am

Trust in the city’s media has dropped to a 10-year low according to a poll by the University of Hong Kong released on Tuesday.

The overall credibility rating for local news media was 5.66 out of 10 – a drop from 5.87 in the last poll in April and the lowest since October 2006, when an overall score of 5.6 was recorded.

The survey interviewed 1,012 people and was conducted ­between September 19 and 22 – ­coinciding with a controversy over government proposals for a ­housing project in Wang Chau making the headlines.

Respondents were asked to rate the credibility of local media on a scale of zero to 10, and about their views on the media’s performance.

Of the respondents, 32 per cent believed the news media had been “responsible in their reporting”, down from 35 per cent in April. And 35 per cent thought the media had been “irresponsible”, up from 29 per cent last time.

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Some 52 per cent said ­local media had “abused the freedom of the press”, but 49 per cent said the media had “scruples” when criticising the government. Some 49 per cent also believed the ­media practised “self-censorship”. Television remained the main source of news, with almost 75 per cent saying they mainly obtained news information from TV. It was followed by the internet (59 per cent), newspapers (47 per cent), and ­radio (26 per cent).

But only 33 per cent of respondents regarded television as “the most trustworthy source”. Only 17 per cent saw the internet as the most trustworthy, while newspapers and radio scored 15 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.

Professor Francis Lee Lap-fung, of Chinese University’s school of journalism and communication, said: “The score of 5.66 cannot be said to be very poor and there was not a sharp drop, ­although it is a 10-year low.

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“It is probably a general ­impression gradually formed after a series of events over a period of time. Most people watch TVB for news. So, the station’s performances in handling news may affect people’s impression of the medium’s credibility.”

TVB drew public criticism over its handling of some news items recently. In one of the latest cases last month, the station was criticised for omitting an item about several pan-democratic candidates pulling out from the Legislative Council elections.