Yuen Chan receives honourable mention for article challenging ‘dominant paradigm’ of Hong Kong press freedom coverage.

By Hamish Armstrong (Senior Communications Officer), Published

Yuen Chan, Senior Lecturer of Journalism at City, University of London, has been honoured at the recent Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) Awards for her work to reflect the efforts of Hong Kong’s journalists in the face of numerous obstacles.

Yuen’s article ‘Press Freedom Day: As long as there are journalists in Hong Kong, there will be journalism’ for the Hong Kong Free Press, received second place in the ‘Excellence in Opinion Writing’ category. In her piece, she argues that press freedom is not ‘dead’ – as many have proclaimed it be – and urges journalists to continue the ‘rigorous process of telling stories and presenting facts’ to show campaigns against restrictions are not futile.

Yuen Chan

The SOPA Awards were founded in 1982 to champion freedom of the press and promote excellence and industry best practices in the Asia-Pacific region. The Awards are an annual celebration of those who work to uphold high standards in the fields of journalism and publishing, with judges drawn from senior journalists, editors and academics from around the world.

Yuen said she owed her recognition to the work of committed and brave journalists of Hong Kong.

“I'm incredibly honoured by the recognition for this piece – which is bestowed by respected peers in the industry,” she said.

“This is more than a personal recognition, and I regard it as recognition for the work of Hong Kong's committed, resilient and tenacious journalists who I salute in my article.

The threat to press freedom is very real. I was a working journalist in Hong Kong in 2002 when the Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF)'s inaugural World Press Freedom Index ranked the city at 18th in the world. This year it ranks as low as 140th

“There have been many challenges to press freedom in Hong Kong in the 20 years between these rankings, but nothing like the implementation of the National Security Law in 2020 that completely altered the landscape. As a result, there are now journalists in jail awaiting trial on sedition and national security charges.” 

At a time of such threats, Yuen urged caution for democracies across the world.

“I think the lesson for journalists and citizens is that this can happen anywhere,” she continued.

“We all have to be vigilant in the defence of press freedom whenever and wherever threats occur. 

“In democracies, I think we need to oppose measures and legislation that threaten press freedom while making sure that we uphold high standards and accountability for the media as well.  

“There has been an increase in distrust of the media and we need to address the causes of that as well.” 

The judging panel for the regional opinion writing category echoed Yuen’s pleas:

"Yuen’s piece is an important corrective to the dominant paradigm of coverage of press freedom in HK.

“Sure, press freedom may be terrible now and worse than before, but she highlights how journalists in the city are still committed to doing work of value for readers, come what may and forcefully makes the case that their efforts should not be overlooked."  

Current members of SOPA include international publishers like New York Times, The Economist, Bloomberg, Reuters and Financial Times, as well as regional titles such as Nikkei Asia and South China Morning Post.

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