New definition of ‘media representatives’ . . .
Hong Kong police have amended their definition of ‘media representatives’ to only recognize government-registered media outlets and “internationally recognized and renowned” agencies. The new policy impacts journalists with accreditation from local media associations, such as the Hong Kong Journalist Association (HKJA) and Hong Kong Press Photographers Associations (HKPPA). Under the policy, which came into effect Wednesday, freelance journalists and student reporters will no longer have access to police-held press conferences and will have less protection when covering protests. The police said that the move will allow frontline officers to “effectively and swiftly verify the identity of media representatives” without compromising ongoing operations.
Sparking an outcry in the journalism industry . . .
A coalition of eight journalist unions and associations, including HKJA and HKPPA, released a joint statement opposing the new police policy and decrying the new regulations as a serious threat to the city’s press freedoms. In a separate statement, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong (FCC Hong Kong) also opposed the new policy, describing the move as “a serious erosion of press freedom and independence.” Similarly, seven Hong Kong journalism schools expressed concern over the new policy and urged the authorities to revoke it.
Declining Press Freedom in the city . . .
According to Reporters without Borders, a Paris-based international non-profit organization, Hong Kong has dropped seven places in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index from last year. The organization cited concerns over violence against the media by the police and pro-Beijing criminal groups in last year’s Anti-Extradition Law protests. Following the National Security Law's implementation earlier this year, police arrested media tycoon Jimmy Lai and raided his company's offices, Apple Daily. The government’s new move undoubtedly deter student and freelance journalists from covering protests in the future.
- Hong Kong Free Press: 8 Key protest moments captured by freelance and student journalists
- The Japan Times: Hong Kong police sift the past to pursue new security law crimes
- South China Morning Post: As Hong Kong police shift media guidelines, who will they recognise as journalists and what does it mean for those they do not?