Critical Issue—Objectiveness

By Alice Du See Kee

Being objective is the utmost important element for good journalism. Reporters should be objective in writing and also in reporting so that readers would trust the report. However, I found that not all reporters are as objective as their writings.

I covered the first day of class boycott in The Chinese University of Hong Kong. The day before I went there, I had already chosen my outfits. Since all the supporters of the class boycott would wear white, I intentionally wore other colors (green and brown) to differentiate myself from the participants. But from what I saw on that day, many reporters wore white as well and some even had yellow ribbons on their hands. Those reporters even joined the protesters after their reporting was finished. What’s more, some of their news organizations were pro-Beijing and anti-class boycott. I also checked their Facebook after I finished the writing and most of them wrote their feelings about the class boycott on Facebook as well.

Personally, I think they were not objective at all even though they wrote in a non-biased way. For reporters, they can certainly have their own views but it’s better to keep it private instead of posting to social media websites. It’s not professional to do so. When readers read the news that reporter produced, they will immediately associated with the reporter’s views on various social media. It would be awkward when these two views coming from the same person contradicted with one another. This would not only discredit the reporter but also the news organization.

Moreover, reporters should be observers instead of participants. They should not participant in the event during or after reporting. I think it would be unlikely that reporters could stay neutral if they were one of the participants. People would certainly question the reporting work.

Apart from staying neutral during and after reporting, it is equally important to write in an impartial way. In my writing, I interviewed both supporters and critiques of class boycott to balance the story and enabled people from different sides of the story to express their views on that matter. I was lucky to find the interviewees in a short period of time.

Below is my previous work:

Hong Kong Students Boycott Classes to Fight for Democracy
Tens of thousands of students from more than 20 tertiary institutions gathered today at Chinese University of Hong Kong to kick off a week-long class boycott in protest of Beijing’s restrictions on the procedures for electing the chief executive in 2017.

The organizer, Hong Kong Federation of Students, said more than 13,000 protesters, wearing white shirts and yellow ribbons, assembled for a peaceful sit-in in the afternoon.

“I would say this is a positive signal to have such a number of students participating in the assembly today. We are expecting more students to come and join, not only students but also citizens of Hong Kong,” said Chow Wing-hong, secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, in the declaration for students’ strike.

Students from different universities with various academic backgrounds joined together in the hope of achieving a full democracy in Hong Kong.

“There is no other way to respond as a student. I hope for a true universal suffrage and I want our voices to be heard by the Chinese and the Hong Kong government through class boycott,” said Elisa Chan, a third-year student studying Philosophy in Hong Kong Baptist University.

Besides college and secondary students, teachers, workers and civil servants also came to support the class boycott movement. They concurred with the banners in Chinese characters that read “We decide our own fate” and “Fight for justice, Demand for democracy”.

“This marks the beginning of another wave of democratic movement in Hong Kong. I want to be part of history and I want to see history in its making,” said Civic Party’s leader Leong Kah-kit.

The movement has gained massive worldwide support on social media. Supporters created Facebook groups and Twitter pages to encourage more students to participate in the class boycott and to spread the news to the world. For example, Facebook page named United for Democracy: Global Solidarity with Hong Kong attracted people from cities like Sydney, New York and London to organize events and talks to support Hong Kong students.

Local celebrities also showed their support for the class boycott through posting comments on Facebook.

“We might succeed and we might fail but we will not give up,” said actor Stephen Au Kam-tong.

“A meaningful class boycott is better than skipping classes for no reason,” said DJ Sammy Leung

But not everyone agreed with the protesters. Members of the Hong Kong Women Union showed up at the Chinese University to protest against the movement.

“We urge students to go back to the classroom. There are many ways to fight for democracy besides class boycott. We are afraid that the events following the boycott might be dangerous to students,” said Amy Chan, chairwoman of the Union.

The HKSAR government issued a press release tonight saying that it “respects the aspirations and perseverance of students in upholding democracy” and that it will consult the public again soon. In the meantime, it will work with the Legislative Council to carry out universal suffrage according to plan.

The class boycott was part of the larger democratic movement of Occupy Central, in which participants will sit-in at Central, probably next month, the busiest financial district in Hong Kong, to continue fighting for democracy.

More than 100 scholars from various disciplines have signed up to give public lectures on politics to students joining the class boycott for the next few days at Tamar Park.