HKJA condemns South China Media

The Hong Kong Journalists Association condemns the decision of South China Media’s Esquire magazine to lay off Daisy Chu, who worked on a feature story about the 4 June massacre. The decision underscores the spread of self-censorship within the Hong Kong media industry. Even worse was that the burden was left to be borne by a front-line journalist. We urge the South China Media to honour its duties as a media company and the decisions of professional journalists. We also urge the owner of the Esquire brand, the Hearst Corporation, to review its contract with South China Media.
Ms Chu has confirmed that she was laid off on 29 June 2009. The personnel department of South China Media had revealed to her that is it was related to the feature story about the 4 June massacre. The management of Esquire barred the 16 page feature story from publications with no discussion with front-line journalists. They told Ms Chu after the magazine was printed that the feature story was seditious. Ms Chu disagreed and publicised the event on the Internet.
We are concerned that this action against Daisy Chu will have a chilling effect on other Hong Kong journalists, resulting in their avoiding work on topics which are incompatible with the business interests of the owners of media companies. As a trade union for journalists and an NGO that upholds the values of the freedom of expression, we urge South China Media to apologise to Ms Chu without delay.
The HKJA sent a letter to the South China Media to seek their explanation on the issue. Regrettably, there has been no response from the group within two weeks.
We also urge South China Media to respect its duties as a media organisation and to explain the reasons why Ms Chu was laid off. South China Media should respect the work and the decisions of its editorial staff.
Esquire is one of the publications of the US-based Hearst Corporation. We urge Hearst Corporation to review its contract with South China Media, in order to ensure that its partners observe the principles of press freedom.
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