Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Do we deserve a free press?

Ming Pao fired their executive chief editor, Mr. Keung Kwok-yuen.  Keung is well-respected in Hong Kong.  The firing was sudden and coming right after Ming Pao published articles on the offshore account scandal damaging to some rich and powerful people.  Ming Pao claimed the firing was for financial reasons.  Many people believe that it was just a thinly disguised attempt to suppress press freedom.  Some writers of columns in Ming Pao left their columns blank in protest.  Ming Pao inserted a statement  in the column to repeat its claim that the firing was for financial reasons.  Few people believe that.  

This is serious.  Ming Pao is one of the few newspapers in Hong Kong with some credibility.  It is considered relatively objective, and still courageous enough to publish articles unfavourable to the rich and powerful, and those well-connected to the establishment.  Although its standard is considered to have declined significantly in the past years, particularly since ownership has passed into the hands of pro-establishment businessmen.  

It is often said that the newspapers reflect the quality of the citizens.  To put it another way, the citizens of a place gets the newspapers that they deserve.  If there are enough people who demand objective and courageous news reporting, there will be people who are willing to work to produce them.  It is up to us to say what kind of newspapers we are willing to pay for.  If we are not willing to support, with our voice and money, objective and courageous reporting, then we do not deserve to get them in Hong Kong.  

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