Professionallsm, Political Orientation, and Perceived Self-Censorship: A Survey Study of Hong Kong Journalists

Lee, Francis L. F.; Chan, Joseph M.
March 2008
Issues & Studies;Mar2008, Vol. 44 Issue 1, p205
Academic Journal
This article discusses self-censorship in the Hong Kong media. After a brief overview of the problem, the study specifically examines the factors underlying professional journalists' perceptions of self-censorship. It is argued that journalists would perceive an action in a specific situation as self-censorship only if they have their own independent judgments of how a journalist should act in that situation. The independent judgments are, in turn, based on both journalists' sense of professionalism and their personal political views. Hence this study posits that Hong Kong journalists' perceptions of self-censorship are grounded partly in their professional norms, partly in their own personal political attitudes, and partly in the distance between their own political attitudes and the editorial stances of the news organizations that they work for Data derived from a representative survey of professional journalists in Hong Kong show that they perceived self-censorship as widespread, were generally liberal in their own political outlook, and perceived themselves as more liberal than the news organizations they were working for More importantly, the findings support the hypothesized relationships among perceived self-censorship, professional norms, and political attitudes. The results thus suggest that, for the Hong Kong media, both professional norms and journalists' largely liberal political outlook are important forces counteracting the pressure to conform to the power center Other implications of the findings are also discussed.


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