Seven news unions throw their full support to more than 50 Television Broadcast (TVB) journalists who have signed a joint petition to question the management’s handling of a news video that allegedly showed police violence against a protestor.
Among the seven are the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association, the Independent Commentators Association, the Next Media Trade Union, the RTHK Programme Staff Union, the Ming Pao Staff Association and Journalism Educators for Press Freedom. They demanded an explanation from the TVB management on the handling, noting that self censorship is detrimental to the well-being of Hong Kong.
Filmed by a TVB news crew, the video showed a four-minute physical encounter between six policemen and an Occupy Movement protestor which they have moved to a dark corner from an area near the central government office.
In describing what can be seen on the footage, a voice over by a journalist said: “After putting him on the floor, the policemen began to punch and kick him. Two officers left. The rest continued to kick the protestors.”
This version, which was shown at 6 am Tuesday, cannot be seen by 7 am. The above line was removed from the voice cover while the chip remained unedited.
By noon, the voice over was revised again to say “the police has allegedly used physical force against the protestor”.
In their joint letter issued this evening, the TVB journalists expressed their deep regret on the editing. They said the deleted voice-over is an objective description of facts.
“For five hours, the public has been shown an incomplete story. The revision showed the management’s lack of trust on the journalists. We cannot agree with this,” said the letter.
In response to an HKJA enquiry, TVB newsroom head Keith Yuen Chi-wai said the original wording of “punch and kick” was “inappropriate” because the case has already been reported to the police. Any interference with justice should not be allowed, said Yuen.
He did not explain why the management has decided to delete the concerned bite out of legal concern more than four hours before the police announced that they have received a complaint.
The seven unions disagreed with Yuen’s explanation, noting that the reporting journalist was present at the scene and the description of “punch and kick” is a fair eye witness account.
The unions called on the media management to respect the judgement of frontline journalists who have been reporting on the unprecedented social movement with professionalism and courage.
They also warned that any attempt to punish the journalists for signing the petition would not be tolerated.
Hong Kong Journalists Association
Hong Kong Press Photographers Association
Independent Commentators Association
Next Media Trade Union
RTHK Programme Staff Union
Ming Pao Staff Association
Journalism Educators for Press Freedom
15 October 2014