In October, two journalists were assaulted in separate incidents in the course of carrying out their duties. One was Mr. Yung, the Oriental Daily’s Beijing correspondent. His nose was smashed while he was covering a story in the capital. In the other incident a celebrity clashed with a 3 Weekly reporter who was then taking picture of the celebrity. We disapprove of violence of any kind other than action necessitated by self-defense. On the first incident we sent letters to the Central and SAR governments expressing our concerns. We urged them to take appropriate action as early as possible. We also expressed to the 3 Weekly regarding our position towards the clash of its reporter.
The former Oriental Daily reporter Mr. Leung Ka Shun’s funeral was held on 21st October. We received 14 cheques sent by our colleagues to express their condolence. We have handed over these cheques to his relatives. They would like the HKJA to express gratitude on their behalf. We are also proud of the caring colleagues we have in the industry.
On the work hour issue, a survey conducted by the University of Hong Kong indicated that more than 60% of employees in Hong Kong work 51.3 hours on average. The work-life balance survey’s result was 25% more than the stipulated maximum work hours set by the International Labour Organization. The media industry ranked third in their findings of most overworked people. In our own survey of different newspapers’ and TV stations’ journalists, we found that on average journalists work over 50 hours per week. Some of them work even as long as 65 hours or more. It shows that the over time problem in the industry is severe. We sent letters to different media’s chief editors and editors urging them to look into the problem, in order to resolve the health problem and work inefficiency resulting from such overtime work. However, the news was only published in Sing Pao.
I went to the meeting conducted by the World Association of Women Journalists and Writers. During the meeting, Professor Chang Chin-Hwa from the Graduate Institute of Journalism at National Taiwan University stated that in the September this year, some Taiwanese scholars, women associations and all private broadcasting companies reached the first agreement ever on fair treatment of news regarding minorities, gender, sexual orientation and AIDS, etc. One of the reasons for their success is adoption of various legislations to protect equal rights in respect of education and employment. Moreover, Mr. Liu Yong Ping, who works in an online business, stated that a local survey in 2003 indicated for the first time that the number of people browsing the Internet was more than the readers of newspapers or magazines. In America, the number of people browsing the net is approaching the number of people who watch TV. So he believes that if the traditional newspapers keep on doing what they have always been doing, without improvement, they would become an endangered species.
Besides the meeting in Taiwan, I also visited the directors of the Department of Journalism in Shih Hsim University, College of Communication in the National Chenchi University, the Central News Agency and a public broadcasting television. I was told that in November the National Chenchi University is going to conduct a research and hold discussions on the way the media reported suicides. Interested members can contact the College directly for details. Some of the directors welcomed the suggestions for an exchange programme for our members either for work or study purposes. Members interested in this may contact the HKJA for further discussions.
Lastly, Starting from November we have on-job training workshops every Saturday. We received over a hundred applications. However, due to the limited space we can only take in half of these applicants. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused. We also would like to express our gratitude to the colleagues and students who supported the programme. We hope all of you would keep supporting the workshop next year. There would be a collection of veteran journalist Ching Cheong essays soon; members please pay attention to the publication date.
Press freedom is the cornerstone of a functioning media and as members of the industry we are responsible for the defence of this core value of our city.