Press freedom in Hong Kong after July 1 was among the most widely- reported issues of the handover by the 6,500 foreign journalists who covered the event. In the West, political pressure for newspapers to put a spin on stories was considered the norm, but it would make headlines if the call came from post-handover Hong Kong authorities, said South China Morning Post editor Jonathan Fenby. 'I can say hand-on-heart that since July 1, as far as I'm concerned, there has been no political attempts by the new administration to stop us doing anything. I was lobbied in the past from Government House, but nobody has rung me up from the Chief Executive's office to say 'do this, do that',' he said. Post journalists not only wrote the news, but became part of it around July 1. Camera crews from around the world nosed massive microphones at telephones during interviews, and foreign correspondents streamed into Fenby's office with the usual questions. The editor estimates he gave around 100 interviews about Hong Kong's press scene and the Post. Four months later, there have been no follow-up calls to see what happened. However, allegations of self-censorship among journalists and criticism by political parties and activists are still as intense. 'The media have created a culture of silence and impotence,' ousted legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing, who writes a column in the Post, said last month. Fenby acknowledges he did get annoyed at the way some people were using the press and the Post as a 'political football'. 'When you get [Democratic Party chairman] Martin Lee Chu-ming saying there was nothing interesting and independent in the Post except the bridge column, it's wounding for me and the paper. 'He is saying that all our columnists - including allies of his party - are not interesting or independent. Since he has refused even to acknowledge two letters from me on the subject, he also, presumably, includes the 1,200-word, main, op-ed page article we ran by him on June 30. It's the kind of cheap shot that detracts from a serious argument.' On the other hand, political editor Chris Yeung, a reporter and editor for 13 years, said the paper was often accused of giving the Democrats too much publicity. 'Although the Democrats are not in the provisional legislature, that doesn't mean their views are irrelevant,' he said. 'Of course, every government and politician will try to manipulate the media, and win over public opinion. We have to be alert not to be seen as a paper of the Government. We have to give comprehensive and balanced coverage.' Striking that balance in a human organisation with stories breaking late and deadlines minutes away is the reality of a daily newspaper. 'I think the fact that many people here and overseas ask if we have self-censorship is a problem in itself,' Yeung said. 'The whole question of self-censorship is too complicated to simply be answered by a yes or no.' Fenby said: 'We do have a role to ensure a free and impartial flow of information. Of course, we make mistakes. Of course, we are subject to the pressures that apply to most newspapers round the world. 'What is important is that a free and reliable flow of information is maintained. That is important not only in itself, but also as part of the general freedoms which make Hong Kong what it is - and what I hope it will remain.'