The right of reporters to do their job and the fundamental importance of the work they do are guiding principles of Caffeinated Politics. It is not enough for anyone to pick up the newspaper off the front steps of their home and think they are doing enough to promote the work of journalists. We all need to be mindful that the trend of intimidation against journalists is gaining steam.
Today that fact is reported from Hong Kong.
Citizen News, a small online news site in Hong Kong known for its in-depth coverage of courts and local politics, said it would stop publishing on Monday night, deepening concerns about the collapse of the city’s once-robust media.
Just days earlier, another independent online media outlet, Stand News, closed after hundreds of police raided its offices and arrested seven people. Two former senior editors at Stand News and the publication itself were charged with conspiracy to publish seditious materials.
The latest closures are the final chapters in the demise of independent media in Hong Kong, a city that once had some of the freest and most aggressive news media in Asia. Now, as Beijing continues a sweeping crackdown on the city, the journalists who once covered the city’s protests and politics are increasingly either under arrest or out of work, without anywhere to publish.
“What’s happening is not just another closure of a media outlet,” said Lokman Tsui, a former journalism professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “This is part of a larger project by the government of dismantling all critical media, of all independent media in Hong Kong.”
Let us be clear about what is at stake. The reporters and press in Hong Kong are able to help maintain the city’s endowed civil liberties, including rule of law and free speech. That is in very sharp contrast to China’s tightly controlled press and lack of open and accessible reporting and distribution of information to the citizenry.
That fight has been a losing one over the past year, but that does not mean the international resolve should cease at pressing China on their totalitarian actions and dismal record on press freedom.
And so it goes.