My Take

Neutrality not in vocabulary of our journalists’ association

Partisanship is part and parcel of the body that represents the media, yet some feign surprise that the body backs the pan-democrats no matter what

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 June, 2017, 4:18am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 June, 2017, 6:06am

We teach journalism students that they are supposed to be objective and neutral. In practice, it’s a lot more complicated. We all know the more polarised a society is, the more partisan its news media industry becomes. That’s how it is in Hong Kong.

So it doesn’t bother me that a group like the Hong Kong Journalists Association is essentially a pan-democratic outfit, and not ideologically neutral at all, as its name and mandate imply. But it does clearly bother Andrew Fung Wai-kwong, the government’s information coordinator.

As a parting shot before he leaves office, he has just penned a column in Headline Daily rounding on the association and Lam Cheuk-ting, the Democratic Party legislator, for their double standards. He questions why they never make criticisms and accusations, about corruption or otherwise, against public figures from the non-establishment – read pan-democratic – camp.

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Well, it’s simple, Mr Fung. It’s because they are pan-democrats. Geez, I wonder why you never make accusations against government officials, including your own boss, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

It’s obvious why the association had nary a word of criticism against Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, boss of the pugnacious Apple Daily and Next Media when he was photographed confronting a reporter from a rival newspaper during the June 4 vigil. The reporter has filed a complaint to the police.

The association has not been silent, though. It was quick to issue a statement pointing to a fake news release with its logo on that criticised Lai’s action and promised never to take money from him in future. The release was actually less a fake statement than a parody, since we all know the HKJA would never say anything bad about Lai or his media group.

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It’s for the same reason that the HKJA fussed over the government not granting a TV licence to telecom businessman Ricky Wong Wai-kay’s HKTV in 2013 as a muzzling of the media but had nothing to say against those who demanded the subsequent closure of the Beijing-friendly ATV.

It once raised hell over the firing of anti-government talk show host Li Wei-ling from Commercial Radio but said nothing when anti-pan-dem columnist Chris Wat Wing-yin received death threats.

If another media boss had confronted one of Lai’s famously aggressive reporters, you can bet that the association would be all over it by now, in the name of press freedom.