Posts Tagged ‘Hong Kong’

Summary of 2015 censorship efforts from China

China Digital News has a good summary of reports looking at censorship in China.

Censoring the Media at Home and Abroad

The part American reporters should pay attention to is the part on Beijing’s efforts to control media outside China.


Harnessing computers to get better journalism

First posted at, the website of the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The Hong Kong University Journalism and Media Center sponsored a talk by Rutgers University media researcher, Nick Diakopoulos late last month.

The topic: Innovation and Computing in Journalism.

“As information comes at us faster and faster, we have more and more data to deal with,” Diakopoulos said. “Social media is pumping out terabytes of this every day. We need computers to help us deal with that scale.”

Diakopoulos defined computational journalism as “using computing to facilitate, enable and reinvigorate the practices and processes of journalism, including collecting, organising, making sense of, communicating and disseminating news information, while upholding the values of journalism such as fairness and accuracy.”

As part of the presentation Diakopoulos presented two programs to help wade through all that data.

  • Videolyzer” is a fact checking application designed for online videos.
  • Vox Event Analytics,” that asks, “What would a journalist ask from social media, what could be interesting?”

JMSC Media Talk: Innovation and Computing in Journalism from JMSC HKU on Vimeo.

View from Hong Kong: Norm Pearlstine speaks to Foreign Correspondents’ Club

Thanks to Matt Driskill for posting this speech by Norman Pearlstine, chief content officer for Bloomberg at the FCC in Hong Kong January 3, 2011 on the U.S. political scene and its implications for Asia.

Norman Pearlstine in Hong Kong.

Job opportunities in Hong Kong

Tom Crampton, an old Hong Kong buddy, just posted an announcement about two job openings at the South China Morning Post.

Thought there might be one of two people out there who might be interested.

Jobs: South China Morning Post Editorial Jobs

Chinese censors move on language debate

For the uninitiated, the spoken Chinese language is divided into a number of dialects that are as distinctive as the differences between Cockney English and Deep South USA English.

Mandarin is the “official” language because it is the Chinese of Beijing.

Cantonese is the Chinese of southern China and the version more familiar to many Americans. (Bok Choy is Cantonese for white cabbage. The Mandarin version is Bai Cai.)

And I can speak from personal experience that the two dialects are so different as to be incomprehensible to each other. My Mandarin barely worked in Hong Kong.

Other dialects in Western China are as distinct but, because of limited exposure to the rest of the world, are not as well-known.

For a number of years now Beijing has been trying to force all parts of the country use Mandarin. And for just as long, the Cantonese speakers have been fighting those efforts.

Cantonese is the Chinese dialect of Guangzhou province and Hong Kong — the economic powerhouses of China.

People in those areas looking to do serious business in China learn Mandarin but as a second language. (Actually, more often as a third language. English is often the second language.)

So when a Guangzhou politician made an official proposal to force a major local television network to stop using Cantonese and switch to Mandarin, more than 1,000 people demonstrated against it.

Move to Limit Cantonese on Chinese TV Is Assailed

Police broke up the unauthorized demonstration peacefully.

And, in true Communist, control all information style, all mention any mention of the demonstration was removed from Chinese Internet forums on Monday. Only one national newspaper — one aimed at the foreign community — carried a report. The report did not so much cover the popular uprising as it indicated the discussion of language is a politically delicate matter.

And, as we know, anything that is a “politically delicate matter” will come under the direct control of the propaganda ministry. And that means in the hands of the “hardliners” who want more control over information and means of communication.

This is going to be another interesting issue to follow.

Hong Kong press freedoms still under siege

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World

Each year the Hong Kong Journalist Association issues a report on the state of media and civil freedom in Hong Kong. Each year, the report is a little more pessimistic than the previous year.

The 2010 report — “The Vice Tightens: Pressure Grows on Free Expression in Hong Kong” — continues in that depressing pattern.

The report looks at issues where the Hong Kong political and legal establishment are deferring more and more to Beijing or their proxies in Hong Kong.

An issue of direct concern to Hong Kong journalists is the status of government-owned Radio Television Hong Kong.

The government decided RTHK will remain a government department, despite petitions from the public and non-governmental organizations, that it should become an independent public service broadcaster.

The status of RTHK has long been an issue for free-press advocates.

Under its current status as a government department RTHK has limited editorial freedom –although the government said it will issue a charter guaranteeing RTHK full editorial independence.

For many veterans in the battle for RTHK independence, the issuance of a charter is not a victory.

When the Voice of America aired an interview with Taliban leader Mullah Omar September 21, 2001 the U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell intervened to kill the story.

He failed.

The attempt by the U.S. government to step in and censor a legitimate news story sent chills of fear among supporters of editorial independence for RTHK. VOA has long been known as a fair reporting news organization. Partly because its charter — signed into law by Pres. Ford in 1976 — protects it.

Point One of the charter states, “VOA will serve as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news.” That means no slanting the news to fit a political agenda.

The folks at RTHK got nervous because if the U.S. government could get away with intimidating VOA, what chance did RTHK have against the Hong Kong or Chinese governments.

In the end VOA won and story ran.

RTHK has always faced massive pressure by the Hong Kong government — British or Chinese — to “be more positive.” Since the handover in 1997 pressure on the Chinese language side increased so much that many journalists feared for their jobs unless they tread gently around stories critical of China.

The HKJA also pointed out the government is unwilling to adopt a more open approach towards government information. The report cites an investigation by the Ombudsman that found misunderstandings of the government code on access to information.

The cure, said the HKJA is enactment of a freedom of information law.

Again, this has been an ongoing issue that has involved journalism groups from around the world in support of the HKJA position. In 2002 or 2003 the U.S. SPJ president spoke on RTHK about the importance of freedom of information laws.

The HKJA also noted an increased lack of interest by the Hong Kong government to defend its citizens from harassment in China. Two major incidents last year involved the detention of a journalist and a cameraman in Chengdu on trumped-up drug charges as they tried to report on the aftermath of the 2008 earthquake.

In another case Hong Kong journalists were beaten and detained by local officials in Urumqi. The journalists were covering the ethnic riots in that region.

The Hong Kong government promised to follow up on these cases but nothing concrete emerged.

The HKJA said in its report that the government is not living up to its international commitments – under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – to uphold freedom of expression and press freedom.

The Hong Kong government has also been lax in protesting arbitrary rules set up by Beijing to keep out journalists from news organizations, such as Apple Daily.

All in all the past year was another one of concern for supporters of civil liberties and free press in Hong Kong.

China holds firm, Google moves search engine

It looks as if Google and China were not able to come to an agreement.

The Chinese government maintains that unless Google exercises self-censorship — or as Beijing says, “adhere to the laws of China” — it would not be allowed to continue to operate in China.

Google said it would only operate in China if it could operate freely.

So now Google is sending all searches on to its Hong Kong site. (And please remember that Hong Kong, while part of China, has civil right and liberties, including freedom of speech and press.)

Google moves China search service to Hong Kong


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