Hong Kong Journalists Indicate Deterioration of Press Freedom

By Lin Yuguo, Central News Agency
February 12, 2007 12:00 am Last Updated: February 12, 2007 12:00 am

HONG KONG—On February 10, 2007, the Hong Kong Journalist Association (HKJA) released a survey showing that 58.4 percent of journalists surveyed believe that freedom of press has deteriorated over the decade since Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule in 1997, mainly because of serious self-censorship in the Hong Kong media.

The HKJA appointed Lingnan University to conduct the survey in January. It successfully interviewed 506 Hong Kong journalists.

The survey showed that nearly 60 percent of the journalists queried believe self-censorship within the media in Hong Kong is worse now than 10 years ago. Of the news that the media decide to play down, some 20 percent they believe to be negative or unfavorable to the Chinese authorities; another 20 percent they regard as sensitive subjects by the Chinese authorities, or less than 20 percent think to be detrimental to their bosses and correlated interests.

According to the survey, 30 percent of the respondents admit that they have performed self-censorship in the past year, while 40 percent have colleagues or superiors who have conducted self-censorship.

The HKJA was shocked by the survey results. They think the actual situation could be even worse than the survey shows.

The HKJA urges the press to fearlessly report news with justice and fairness.

On the other hand, the journalists interviewed said that self-censorship is not the most major issue the press is facing. Instead, 27.6 percent believe news is reported superficially, 16.5 percent are more concerned about low salaries and insufficient benefits, and 16.3 percent believe there is a serious problem of reporting news of pornography and violence.