Based on a survey of 169 people in the media industry and 1,016 members of the public, the HKJA recorded a 6-point drop in Hong Kong’s press freedom index, the sharpest decline since the index was introduced in 2013.
In a statement, the HKJA said that the closure of Apple Daily and Stand News in June and December last year respectively, as well as the persecution of the association’s staff, were key factors contributing to the decline.
“As a direct consequence of a shrinking news industry, less information of public interest is now available, and those that remain accessible become more homogenous than diverse,” the statement said.
The results of the index come shortly after Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee said “patriotic” journalists should be delivering the “right Hong Kong message” and reporting “the truth in the spirit of objectivity, fairness and impartiality.”
The IFJ has documented the frequent harassment, intimidation and detainment of journalists in Hong Kong, and the use of orchestrated campaigns to shutter media outlets and civil society organisations.
On September 7, HKJA chairman Ronson Chan was arrested while covering a homeowner committee meeting at the MacPherson Stadium in Mong Kok and subsequently charged with obstructing police. Late last month, a High Court upheld a warrant allowing authorities to access confidential information on two phones owned by media tycoon Jimmy Lai as part of an ongoing investigation into the media tycoon’s alleged national security offences.
The IFJ said: “The Hong Kong Journalists Association’s press freedom index has exposed, yet again, the grim conditions facing Hong Kong’s journalists and the increasingly restricted environment for press freedom. The IFJ calls on the Hong Kong government to maintain the independence and freedom of the media and act to safeguard the rights of all media workers.”