Survey finds nearly one in three in the media censor themselves A call for higher media standards has been issued by the Hong Kong Journalists Association after a survey it carried out found 30 per cent of journalists had censored themselves during the past year. Forty per cent said they knew either their colleagues or supervisors did so, while nearly 60 per cent of journalists believed press freedom had declined since the handover and self-censorship among the media had got worse, according to the survey released yesterday at a panel discussion on press freedom. Of that 60 per cent, almost three-quarters considered self-censorship to be the most important reason for the decline, while 13 per cent blamed tighter information control. The three most serious forms of self-censorship, cited by 506 journalists who responded to the survey, were downplaying issues and information unfavourable to the central government or believed to be unfavourable, and downplaying those unfavourable to media owners and their interests. Yet self-censorship came only fourth in journalists' views of the most serious problems facing the industry, after frivolous news, depressed wages and benefits, and sensationalism. Chairwoman Serenade Woo Lai-wan said: 'The Hong Kong Journalists Association is shocked by these findings. As self-censorship is not a socially desirable activity, we can justifiably believe that the real situation might even be worse. 'The association urges members of the trade to stay unwavering in their duty to be fair, impartial and fearless in performing their role. News reporting and editing should be done purely according to professional standards.' Joseph Chan, of Chinese University's school of journalism and communication, said: 'Self-censorship is still haunting the media sector, but it would be wrong to say that there is no press freedom. 'There is still an open market and anyone who has the mind can still open and run a newspaper, but they can't run a TV station because TV has been subject to more restrictive control since day one. 'We are concerned about the relationship between the media and the centres of power: the Hong Kong government, the central government and the big corporations.' The Frontier legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing, a former chairwoman of the association, asked why the South China Morning Post was the only newspaper to report ATV's Newsline had pulled a programme about the lack of a referendum on the election of the chief executive. A public opinion poll meanwhile found 31.2 per cent of people believe that Hong Kong enjoys more press freedom than a decade ago; 27.4 per cent say it has less and 31.2 per cent say it has the same freedom. More than half the members of the public polled - 53.7 per cent - felt the government influenced the press more than at the time of the handover, compared to 46.2 per cent of journalists.