Report of 2011/12 Executive Committee of the HKJA

The 2011/12 Executive Committee - Hong Kong Journalists Association

[中文] [Jul 2012 - The Journalist] The last 12 months was a difficult and busy year for press. The journalists’ work was greatly suppressed by the Police’s arrangement of Vice Premier Li Keqiang’s Hong Kong visit last August, Fire Services Department followed the Police to control the release of instant information by digital communication, the Liaison Office put pressure on the media during the CE Election and Sing Pao tampered LAU Yui-siu’s column which means self-destruction of the press freedom… these successive events have reminded us that we should not take press freedom for granted.

Safeguard the Press Freedom

The Excom members led the members and the industry to stand firm on their position, stand at the front line of defending press freedom: more than 300 reporters joined the demonstration of “No humiliation to Journalists. Give me back the right to report news”; A record high 1,602 reporters as well as journalism teachers and students jointly signed the “Protect People's Right to Information, Publicise Crime News in Real-time” signature campaign; Organizing “Meeting CE Candidates” forum, the Chief Executive-elect, Leung Chun-ying had signed a charter to commit to defend press freedom under the witness of 200 journalists and students.

In the past year, HKJA had organized one demonstration, staging two Black Dress Days, released 11 statements, held one press conference, lettered twice to the Police, lettered twice to Administration Wing and Chief Secretary for Administration; lettered to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State Council. They were mainly about the suppression of the Police and the government on the media's right of reporting and erosion of RTHK's editorial independence.

The AGM of HKJA was held on 23 June. (HKJA Photo)
Others were about LegCo’s vetoed a motion on defending freedom of the press, to improve the arrangement of issuing press card for reporters in Beijing and demanded The Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee to withdraw the restriction of reporting Wenzhou train collision, etc..

The Excom, with the support of the industry, had met several times with the Chief Secretary for Administration, Director of Administration, officials of Fire Services Department and Police Force and had attended several LegCo meetings to debate the release of real-time information and lifting of restrictions by the Police and the government on reporting news.

In the aspect of legislation, HKJA had referred submission and meet with officials to object the legislation of stalking. We have also requested the government to legislate the Freedom of Information Act, to ensure the public and journalists are entitled the statutory right to access public information. The Excom believes that it is necessary and imminent to systematically demand the government to publicize information in the face of government acting more secretively.

Striving for Welfare of Members

HKJA, as professional organization, has worked for enhancing the professional standards of journalists, equipped with new knowledge to the face of this challenge. In addition to the regular three press awards which assist in strengthening the professionalism, the Excom had organized 12 seminars and visits in the past year. The Medical News Workshop with four sessions which held for the first time, had attracted more than 30 journalists to participate and enhance the professional knowledge of the industry.

Another popular activity was Hong Kong Economic Journal’s columnist Joseph Lian analysis of the  political situation after CE Election, which about 70 people attended; unfortunately, the number of participants of Disaster Reporting Preparation Workshop and Privacy and News Reporting was not much. In the case of limited human resources, the Excom will sum ​​up the experience, to use resources better as to benefit the members.

HKJA as a trade union certainly concerns about the labour welfare issues. After the release of the turnover rate of the industry in last May, we continued to investigate the remuneration of journalists. With our efforts, the remuneration was slightly increased, but the increment rate of many media organizations is below the inflation rate. The Excom will keep fighting the reasonable remuneration for the journalists to reduce the turnover rate and ensure the quality of news, and wish the members will advise more to us.

Strong Links with International Organization

In the past year, HKJA has had a strong links with international press freedom and professional organizations. We supported the suppressed foreign peers, besides, the Vice Chairperson Zoe Hung and the Excom member Jackie Sam had participated the meeting of IFJ and Associação de Imprensa de Língua Portuguesa e Inglesa de Macau respectively, to understand the latest trends of overseas press.

Representatives from international organisations and diplomats also often met HKJA for understanding the situation of press freedom and freedom of expression in Hong Kong. In this regard the annual report on freedom of expression is regarded by the international community as important reference material in understanding Hong Kong.

Another important task is the publication of The Journalist. Three issues had been published this year, the last one will be issued in July. The Journalist can be published on schedule because of the great effort of Editorial Board and the fellow journalists. The Journalist would be hard to voice out if without their voluntary dedication. The Excom special thanks to them.

Membership Slightly Declines

There were 482 members when the current Excom took over in late June last year. The membership climbed up to 596 in this March, an increase of about 25%. However, subsequently some members had left the industry and failed to pay dues on time, the latest number of members is 467, which dropped 3% compared to last year. (Table 2)
Even though there had been recruited more than hundred new members this year, it was unable to fill the loss of the members because of the high turnover rate, and relatively low student membership renewal rate. The influence of HKJA depends on the support and participation of members. The more the members, the more strength of HKJA has. The next Excom has to figure out how to maintain membership, urge the busy expired members to pay membership fees as soon as possible as to reduce the loss of member.