The dying media of Hong Kong

Sweaty journalists had to run to keep ahead of the protesters. The best photo opportunities were in the fornt.

Sweaty journalists had to run to keep ahead of the protesters. The best photo opportunities were in the fornt.

English version of my last post.

Thousands of protesters marched to the administration buildings in Hong Kong this fall. The people protested against Beijing’s brainwashing of the region’s children.

One of the demonstrations started just outside the hotel me and Gunnstein stayed at when we were in town to celebrate his 30th birthaday in early August. A friend of his told us which route the protesters would follow. Sitting in the room suddenly became wery boring.

Enraged youths participated with banners and slogans. I know none of the Chinese languages, but the reason for the protest was explained to me. Beijing wants to fill school curriculum in Hong Kong with, among other things, propaganda about Mao’s works.

I walked and jogged along with the demonstrators, The heat hampered both me and my equipment. Dew stuck to the lenses, so I had to use mye mobile camera for the first minutes.

Sunshine, humidity and a pants way too thick made the photoshoot cumbersome. My clothes stuck to the back and my thighs while I jogged along the demonstration and tried to climb up high to get  view.

The idea was to write and sell a small article on this. Back in Norway, I struggled to get hold of sources, and eventually dropped the project. So now I’m writing a blog post instead.

The masked man with chains around his wrists shows his contempt for Beijings increasing control over Hong Kong. A TV crew recorded his statements.

The masked man with chains around his wrists shows his contempt for Beijings increasing control over Hong Kong. A TV crew is recording his statements.

Media covered the march. Reporters interviewed protesters and it was cramped in the good lookout points. The demonstration made front-page news, and the pressure worked. Hong Kong’s Beijing-friendly government backed down.

Therefore, the low status of journalists and photographers in Hong Kong is a paradox.

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets. The heat made it exhausting to run around to take pictures.

Gunnstein introduced me to a local, experienced journalist. He took me to a cafe, and we talked about people’s relationship with the media while eating some cheap local food.

Television and printed papers is dominated by uncritical Beijing-coverage because the state owns a lot of the media. Hong Kong is part of China, but maintains democracy and freedom of speech. So far.

The independent press is tabloid. People think journalists just dig in trivialities and celebrities. Along with a strong government, this makes it difficult to enlighten and inspire people through serious news and feature journalism. Enough people do not care about a free press.

Hong Kong is pretty. In the background, one can see the Big Buddha; the starting point for a nice and tiring Photo Tour.

Hong Kong is pretty. In the background, one can see the Big Buddha; the starting point for a nice and tiring Photo Tour.

Massive protests are not uncommon. Youth roar out their anger against the government, and value their freedom. But it is difficult to maintain political freedom without a strong and independent press that tells the people what policymakers do.

Unless the trend reverses, Hong Kong will suffer for it as the region culturally and politically integrates into mainland China.

Stian Hansen.

Advertisements