The factual reporting by TVB News on the beating of social worker Ken Tsang by seven police officers in a corner of Tamar Park made waves in our society. Yet, TVB has moved Assistant News Editor Ho Wing-hong, who was responsible for the report, from frontline news gathering to the position of Chief Researcher. Journalism Educators for Press Freedom (JEPF) is deeply angered by this move.
We do not think there was anything wrong with the way Ho handled the news. Rather, it is TVB’s subsequent removal of the terms “kicked and punched” and “secluded corner” that bear the suspicion of self-censorship. Close to 100 TVB employees from the News and other departments have publicly voiced their disatisfaction and unease at management’s distrust of the original report.
We strongly condemn TVB News management’s shirking of its responsibility and failure to confront its mistakes. Instead, it is trying to clean up the mess and suppress doubts publicly aired by the majority of staff by “killing the chicken to warn the monkeys”. In so doing, it is also ignoring the general public’s concern about possible self-censorship exercised by the TVB News Director.
What is wrong with journalists carrying out their duties according to professional judgement and conscience? Why must they be moved from their jobs as a result? We invite senior management at TVB News to give the public an explanation as to why Ho has been moved. We are also concerned about those members of staff who signed petitions over this incident and in support of colleagues who were attacked by anti-Occupy protesters. We will watch closely to see if they will be in any way punished.
In these difficult times, we need steadfast journalists standing at the frontline of news. The retribution carried out by TVB News is one more knife stabbed into our already imperiled press freedom. In view of such actions, will our young reporters still have the courage to report with conscience? As journalism educators, we cannot stand by and do nothing. We call on senior management at TVB News to make a public response!