ISD: We attach great importance to the need for media coverage

Information Services Department

[Oct 2012 - The Journalist] The Journalist asked the GIS to respond to the worrying trend of replacing free and open interview with ‘pool coverage’. The following is the full reply from ISD on 12 September.

The pool team(local media) kept by Information Services Department(ISD) is formed by various media organisations. The list comprises five TV stations – Asia Television Limited, Cable TV, now Broadband TV, Television Broadcasts Limited and Phoenix TV; and nine local newspapers – Appledaily, China Daily, Hong Kong Daily News, Hong Kong Economic Times, Ming Pao Daily News, Oriental Daily News, South China Morning Post, Sing Tao Daily and The Sun. Based on a roster, ISD will contact relevant media organisations on the pool list whenever pool coverage is required.

For overseas media in Hong Kong, Associated Press Television News and Thomson Reuters TV take turn to do pool coverage while Reuters’ photographers act as a contact point in co-ordinating photographers of other key news agencies(including Associated Press and Agence France- Presse) to take photos at pool press events. ISD will email correspondents in Hong Kong informing them which media organisations to be approached for pool footages or photos.

When preparing the overall arrangement for press events, ISD will take into account various factors including condition of venues, security, safety, order at the scene and the types of events in question before coming up with the most suitable press arrangements.

Pool coverage of 37 press events has been arranged by ISD since July 1. 27 of them have open press sessions, making up to 73 precent of all events. This shows we attach great importance to the need for media coverage.

Pool coverage is mainly to facilitate media organisations in taking photographs or videotaping the proceedings of events. Photographers and TV filming crew so far follow such approach when carrying out pool assignments.

The Journalist emailed these six questions to ISD on pool coverage.
1. What media outlets (local media, international and news agencies) are on ISD's pool list?
2. How does ISD select media to make up a pool team, by lucky draw, rotation or some other method?
3. Why are some newsworthy activities covered by a pool team, while other activities are disseminated through official film footages? What rule or criteria is used?
4. Why are some activities held in spacious areas, such as the Shau Kei Wan bus terminus for the Chief Executive C.Y. Leung's visit and Tin Shui Wai for Chief Secretary Carrie Lam's visit have to come under pool coverage?
5. Are photographers allowed to ask question during pooled interviews?
6. Does ISD agree that the 'pool arrangement' is being abused?