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中英社评/釐清真假记者 维护新闻自由

2020-10-12 04:23:53大公报
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  Distinguishing genuine journalists from counterfeit ones to safeguard freedom of the press

  警方昨日宣布,将修订《警察通例》中关於“传媒代表”的定义。新修订下,本地传媒机构需在政府新闻处发布系统登记,其记者资格才被认可。这一决定,实际上是堵住了香港记协对假记者发证的漏洞,有利於辨别出真假记者。警方此举拨乱反正,是维护新闻自由的及时、必要之举,值得点讚。

  持续大半年的黑暴,将香港社会的深层次矛盾暴露无遗,假记者氾滥成灾是其中之一。在香港,做“记者”太容易了,只要花几十元在某组织那裏买一张记者证,再从商店买一件黄背心披在身上,无论是学生、神父或者一脸稚气的孩子、来历不明的网媒从业者,都可以自称“记者”,大模斯样地出入暴乱现场“採访”。新闻素有“第四权”之谓,记者本来是令人尊重的行业,需要接受专业的训练,但一大群毫无专业背景的人成为“记者”,这是对真正记者的侮辱,对新闻行业的践踏。

  假记者滥竽充数还在其次,最可恶是他们在黑暴中扮演的可耻角色。那些假记者置身警方及暴徒之间,其工作不是採访,而是阻挠警方执法,为暴徒争取逃亡时间,亦为被捕者通风报信。有些人穿上黑衣就打砸抢烧,套上黄背心又变回“记者”,两种角色不停转换。说穿了,假记者与暴徒是蛇鼠一窝,记者证及黄背心不过是道具或护身符而已。

  有一张相片令人印象深刻,画面中,一名警察擎枪指向暴徒,警察本人则被一大群“记者”用“长枪短炮”围困,真实地反映了警方执法的困境:不仅要对付穷兇极恶的暴徒,还要应付这群假记者。事实上,这群假记者的镜头一直聚焦於警方的一举一动,从不对準暴徒,根本没有客观平衡可言。在这群人的操弄下,执法的警方变“犯法”,而犯法的暴徒成“英雄”,大量谣言如“831太子站打死人”、“知专少女被抛尸”、“新屋岭强姦案”等,经过这群假记者绘声绘色的编撰及传播,影响恶劣,严重损害警方形象。

  新闻自由是香港核心价值之一,但滥用新闻自由就与犯罪不远。记协与假记者是一根藤上结出的两颗毒果,问题到了不能不正视、不能不解决的地步。警方今次果断出手,为“记者”正名,也间接斩断了记协滥权纵容假记者的黑手。事实再次证明,只要精神不滑坡,办法总比困难多,只要政府官员敢於作为,就一定能扫除污泥浊水,还香港安宁。

  2020-09-23

  Hong Kong police announced yesterday that the definition of “Media Representatives” in the Police General Orders would be revised. According to the new revision, press accreditation of a journalist issued by a local media group or journalist association will no longer be recognised unless it is registered with the Government News and Media Information System (GNMIS) of the Information Services Department’s (ISD). This decision in fact plugs the loophole in the issuance of press accreditation to fake reporters by the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), and is of help to tell apart genuine journalists from fake ones. This timely and necessary move taken by the police rights a wrong to safeguard the freedom of the press. Such a move is praiseworthy.

  The rioting by black-clad mobsters, lasting for over half a year intermittently, has thoroughly exposed the deep-rooted problems in Hong Kong society, one of which being that counterfeit journalists run wild. In Hong Kong, it is extremely easy for one to become a reporter. Any person - no matter whether he or she is a student, a priest, a babyish teenager or a practitioner in an on-line media outlet of unknown origin – can claim him/herself to be a “reporter” and swagger to “cover news” at a scene of rioting, so long as he or she has purchased a press card from a certain organisation with dozens of dollar and put on a yellow vest bought from a store. The news media is known as “the fourth estate (power)”, and journalism itself is a respectable profession and journalists must receive professional training. The fact that a big bunch of people without any professional background now can easily become “journalists”, however, is an insult to genuine journalists and a trample on the profession of journalism.

  It is one thing that so many people could easily pass themselves off as reporters, but the most disgusting thing is that they play a shameful role in the riots by black-clad mobsters. Those fake reporters would place themselves between police officers and rioters, their job not to cover news but to obstruct police officers in the execution of duty and gain time for the rioters to escape, and also to tip off information about the arrested suspects. Some of them, clad in black, would assault, smash, loot and set fire, and in an instant change to become “reporters” again by putting on a yellow vest, thus shifting from one role to another alternatively.  To put it bluntly, counterfeit reporters act in collusion with the rioters, while press cards and yellow vests are nothing but their “stage props” and protective talismans.

  There is a photo that makes a deep impression on viewers. In the photo, a police officer holds his gun pointing at rioters, but he himself is besieged by a large group of “reporters” armed with “long and short guns (cameras with long-focus or wide-angle lenses)”. This picture truthfully depicts the predicament faced by the police force in the execution of duty: they have to deal with not only the atrocious mobsters but also such a group of fake reporters at the same time. As a matter of fact, the cameras of this group of fake reporters are trained always on every act and every move of police officers but never on any of the thugs. As such, how could there be any objectivity and balance in their reports? Manipulated by this group of people, police officers enforcing the law appear to be “breaking the law”, while law-breaking thugs become “heroes”. A large number of rumours - such as “some citizens were beaten to death by police officers in the MTR Prince Edward Station on August 31”, “the body of a killed girl student with the Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI) was dumped into the sea”, and “there were rapes in San Uk Ling Holding Centre”,etc.–were vividly fabricated, edited and spread by this group of fake reporters to make a baneful influence, which has seriously damaged the image of the police force.

  Freedom of the press is one of Hong Kong’s core values. But abusing the press freedom is not far away from committing a crime. The HKJA and fake journalists are two poisonous fruits growing on the same vine. By now the problem can no longer be ignored and remain unsolved. The police resolutely take action this time to rectify the name of “journalists”, which also indirectly chops a black hand off the HKJA which abuses its power to indulge fake reporters. The fact once again proves: “there are always more ways out than difficulties as long as one maintains a positive mentality.” So long as government officials dare to do something to make a difference, it is certain that all the sludge and filth in society will be washed away and peace will come back to Hong Kong.

  23 September 2020

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