The Hong Kong government has lifted restrictions that prevented online-only media from accessing government press conferences and events.
The Information Services Department (ISD) on Tuesday introduced a new arrangement which allows eligible internet-based media to gain admission to government media events.
Announcing the new policy, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the previous rules barring online-only media from attending government press conferences and events have become outdated in view of the rapid development and popularity of online news sites.
Following a study, the ISD has come up with a reasonable and fair mechanism that allows digital media outlets to attend government press functions, she said.
The government has communicated with five major local journalists’ organizations, including the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), Lam said, noting that most of the organizations agree on the need to allow digital-only media to cover government media events.
Online-only media which are bona fide mass news media organizations (MNMOs) and whose principal business is to report regularly original news for dissemination to the public can apply for registration with the Government News and Media Information System of the ISD, for receiving government press releases and media invitations.
Under the new arrangement, in order to be identified as bona fide online-only MNMO, the applicant organization should satisfy the four requirements:
(1) It must provide proof of regular online news reports for the past three months preceding the date of application.(2) The site should be updating its news platform at least five days a week.(3) It is staffed by at least an editor and a reporter.(4) The entity must be registered under the Registration of Local Newspapers Ordinance.
The ISD will review the new arrangement about six months after its implementation.
If representatives of any media organization conduct activities other than news reporting or engage in misconduct, for example, by using foul language, causing disruption to orderly conduct of media events, or if they stage protests at the venue of a government event, the qualification given in covering government events may be suspended or revoked.
This is to ensure that the reporting work of other media organizations will not be affected.
HKJA said in a statement on Tuesday that it welcomes the government’s decision to lift the ban on online-only media from official events.
The journalists group said it will monitor the implementation of the accreditation policy of the government to ensure that all media entities are treated fairly.
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