Newspaper companies should consider paying their journalists more to reduce staff turnover and ensure the quality of their products, acting chief executive Henry Tang Ying-yen said yesterday. Tang, the chief secretary, was speaking at the annual Newspaper Society of Hong Kong awards presentation ceremony. The society's chairman, Keith Kam Woon-ting, expressed optimism about the future of the print media despite closures and redundancies worldwide, although he said the industry would have to change. Tang said that although journalists' earnings were 'not so low that they are close to the minimum wage', they were not particularly enticing. 'That's why veterans of the media leave their jobs, while promising young people may not stay. 'At a time when information has so much influence over the economy and social development, we have to probe into the issues of losing experienced workers while new blood has yet to settle down, and how much it affects the quality of our news.' Tang also urged journalists not to make personal attacks on one another, saying this was the same as attacking freedom of the press. He was referring to a recent stir in local internet forums over journalists' remarks about their treatment at work. 'Some journalists have been disturbed and treated in an unfriendly manner during work and expressed their personal opinions afterwards. I think this practice mustn't prevail,' he said. 'To berate or make personal attacks on journalists is to abuse freedom of expression and to trample freedom of the press.' The South China Morning Post won a record 16 prizes at the Hong Kong News Awards 2009 - as compared with 13 last year. The Post won top prizes for best scoop and best business writing, news writing in English, page design and news photography.