Protesters marched in 2014 to support press freedom in Hong Kong following an attack on former Ming Pao editor Kevin Lau. File photo: Shutterstock
Just weeks after a local index suggested press freedom in Hong Kong has improved slightly, an international media watchdog said on Wednesday that the situation has actually deteriorated.
Reporters Without Borders said the media’s independence is eroding and Hong Kong has slipped down its international rankings.
The territory’s now in 73rd place out of 180 in the World Press Freedom Index, down from 69 last year.
The Paris-based organisation, which is also known by its French name Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), said there is an “increasingly noticeable” need for Hong Kong reporters to protect their editorial positions from Beijing’s influence.
It also said it was concerned about violence against journalists in Hong Kong, and described the acquisition of the South China Morning Post by mainland company Alibaba as “extremely disturbing”.
In 176th place, the mainland remains just four places above the country at the bottom of the press freedom index, North Korea, while Norway comes top.
Earlier this month, Reporters Without Borders said the SAR’s deteriorating press freedom had prompted it to choose Taiwan for its first office in Asia, rather than Hong Kong as originally planned.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association said at the beginning of April that its latest Press Freedom Index for the city showed a slight improvement, which it put down to a growing number of online outlets increasing diversity in the territory’s media scene.