HKJA response to Chief Secretary for Administration John Lee on ‘combating Fake News’

HKJA recognizes that Chief Secretary for Administration John Lee mentioned the Government’s investigation in ‘combating the spread of fake news’ on a radio show, with administrative and legislative measures both not being ruled out. He also mentioned that maneuverability will be greater if the press industry made regulations themselves.

HKJA will like to response the following to CS John Lee:

The local press industry already has self-regulation, with journalistic organizations to media outlets all providing code of ethics to press workers and requiring them to abide by it.

Public can read the relevant regulations on HKJA website. Aside from ‘Code of Ethics of HKJA’, ‘Joint Code of Ethics of the 4 Journalistic Organizations’ was formulated by Hong Kong Journalists Association, Hong Kong News Executives’ Association, Hong Kong Federation of Journalists, Hong Kong Press Photographers’ Association. HKJA also welcomes different sectors to review journalists’ work with the above regulation.

Complaint mechanisms were also implemented in press organizations, including HKJA. Our ‘Ethics Committee’ received complaints from public for years, and invited independent investigators to review the cases following the 11 codes in the ‘Code of Ethics of HKJA’, with the verdict being open and transparent.

If the Government and other sectors of society are dissatisfied with any media reports, HKJA would welcome their using the current mechanism to reflect their views or complaints to us.

HKJA reiterates that ‘Professionalism and Independence’ have been effective in Hong Kong, while also allowing numerous professions to flourish.

HKJA would also like to remind the Government that Press as the Fourth Estate is only viable if the citizens believe in our ability to supervise the Government, meaning our power comes entirely from the citizens. Only the press being entrusted by a large portion of citizens earns the right of supervision. HKJA would like the Government to understand the forceful intervention of ‘social contract’ through ‘administrative and legislative measures’ will only lead to the opposite of what was intended.

HKJA expects the Government to learn more about the press industry before they raise notions such as ‘Fake News’ or criticize the industry.

However, HKJA agrees that journalists should constantly reflect themselves to earn the trust from the public. HKJA promises the public that we will work with our colleagues together to defend press freedom and quality in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Journalists Association
10 July 2021

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