NEWS – HK Journalists Association Forms ‘Name & Shame’ Self-Censorship Watchdog


Little Eye on Big Media, Hong Kong

A multi-part series

‘Little Eye on Big Media’ Special Series: The Hong Kong Journalists Association has declared the past year in Hong Kong to be the “darkest for press freedom for several decades“. Their 2014 annual report, entitled ‘Press Freedom Under Siege’, was released today. It laments the deteriorating situation in Hong Kong as political tension increases between Beijing and the territory.

It also announced the formation of a ‘Self-censorship Monitoring Committee’ to act as a watchdog and investigate complaints of editorial interference by local media managers. The panel, composed of journalists, academics and lawyers, will name-and-shame outlets where incidents have been confirmed in order to increase public awareness of such cases.

Complaints may be submitted by reporters, editors, photographers, commentators or columnists within 12 months of an incident arising.

The report notes the brutal attack on ex-Ming Pao editor Kevin Lau, the sacking of an outspoken talk-show cost Li Wei-Ling, advertising boycotts of pro-democracy titles and the government’s refusal to issue HKTV with a free-to-air licence.

It also notes how Beijing has lectured media representatives on the need to increase their coverage of the anti-Occupy Central movement.

Hong Kong Journalists Association

In April, a HKJA survey showed how the public and journalists believe press freedom is being eroded. It called upon the government to “maintain a high degree of transparency and to lift restraints on the media”. 

A special report from Reuters earlier this week stated that editors in the city often received warnings from officials at the China Liaison Office – Beijing’s representation in Hong Kong.

What is self-censorship?

The committee uses an academic definition of ‘self-censorship’:

The South China Morning Post reported on April’s HKJA survey which revealed how media managers exert editorial pressure in the news room. However, weeks later, senior staff at the same paper attempted to censor an acclaimed multimedia project about the Tiananmen Square massacre, as uncovered by the blog this weekend. Editor Wang Xiangwei, and senior staff, have ignored requests for comment.

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