It is incredible that the Department of Justice's decision not to prosecute the local branch of Xinhua (the New China News Agency) for an apparent breach of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance attracted so little media coverage. While the South China Morning Post reported the case prominently on its front page and Apple Daily referred to it in its inside page on Saturday, other local dailies seemed to have quietly ignored the incident that concerned ousted legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing's demand to see her personal file. Instead, prominent coverage was accorded to the departure of two vice-directors of the local Xinhua, Zhang Junsheng and Qin Wenjun. Based on the news judgment of the dailies, it seems to suggest their retirement is more relevant to the wider public here than Ms Lau's case. Editors may ask: why is it a big deal if the Government decides against prosecuting the agency? Should it be worthy of reporting only if a prosecution was brought? These considerations may have been taken by some editors before they decided against publishing the incident, but this argument missed the point - that the local Xinhua is a prominent body in Hong Kong and its behaviour and actions, especially those that have an implication on the enforcement of laws, have a public interest angle and the community deserves to be informed. There are a whole host of questions that need to be asked. How did the Department of Justice come to its decision? Was it because of a lack of evidence, or because of the department's assessment that it was not in the public interest? The department may feel it should not explain its decision for fear the evidence would have to be revealed and trigger public debate about Xinhua's guilt or innocence. But that argument does not work; it has already been revealed that Xinhua failed to comply with the ordinance's 40-day reply rule. And with the Privacy Commission's judgment that it considered Xinhua had breached the ordinance, it was always likely the decision against prosecution would trigger public debate. Moreover, Xinhua waited 10 months before telling Ms Lau it had held no file on her; did it offer any explanation to the Privacy Commission? If so, was the Department of Justice satisfied that Xinhua's reasons were credible enough to excuse the agency of legal charges? If no explanation was offered, how did the Government justify its decision? Of course, the department can exercise its discretion on whether it wants to answer these questions. But even if it refuses to offer any explanation, that should not be a reason to stop the media from questioning its actions because the case touched on an important, though sensitive, question: whether the local Xinhua office can act above the laws of Hong Kong and whether the Government's decision against prosecution was prompted by political considerations. Finding out what happened and holding the Government accountable is the media's duty. Nothing should stop the media putting questions to Xinhua and other sources. This is important because Xinhua is no ordinary organisation. Speculation about the agency's activities, such as whether it keeps files on local businessmen, political figures and civil servants, and reports to Beijing, has not stopped even though the agency has deliberately taken a much lower profile after the handover. It is precisely because of Xinhua's unusual status that it is important the media should be more alert to its deeds. By ignoring this episode, the media run the risk of showing poor news judgment or exercising self-censorship. In either case, it does not reflect well on certain editors.