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The Hong Kong Journalists' Association ruled on a complaint about the Oriental Daily Times. (Credit: HKJA.org, screenshot)

The Oriental Daily News’  Nov. 1, 2011 online article and photo of a “suicide of a primary school pupil” was accused of being inaccurate and invasive, according to an October 3, 2012  ruling from the Hong Kong Journalists Association.

According to the association, the complaint was filed shortly after the article’s publication. The association’s Hiu-yeung Chong told iMediaEthics by email that the association contacted the Daily News in January about the complaint and hasn’t received “any reply.”

The Journalists’ Association wrote that it decided the complaints were “partially substantiated” and outlined relevant ethics codes.

According to the association’s report and ruling, the Oriental Daily News violated the association’s standards by publishing the photo of the child.  The association’s “Guidelines on Coverage of Suicides” dictates outlets don’t publish “the victim’s full name and photograph” unless it’s in “significant public interest,” which it wasn’t.  And, the Oriental Daily News went against the “generally-accepted practice” in Hong Kong to “cover or blur the face of a child or children in order to protect the minors, or not to intrude into the grief of the family of a child victim.”

The association also found that the Oriental Daily News “failed to comply with the Guidelines” by reporting the victim was “suspected to have been scolded by his father,” therefore possibly causing “readers to suggest or associate his father with the tragedy.”

However, the association did find that the Oriental Daily News didn’t “seem to have intruded into the deceased or his family’s privacy” by naming his school.

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We asked the association what authorities it has.  The association’s Hiu-yeung Chong explained to iMediaEthics that it is “just a NGO but not a statutory body” but it does “promote self-regulatory in order to defend press freedom.”  He noted that the association’s “ruling is a non-binding opinion” and that the association cannot fine the Oriental Daily News. “They even don’t have to respond,” Hiu-yeung Chong wrote, adding:

“If the problem is very serious and some media may follow the story, they may put pressure on the complained media outlet. But this case, no Hong Kong media have followed.”

China News 24 reported that the Hong Kong Press Council “found no violations of their code” related to this case.

Check out the Hong Kong Journalists Association’s ethics code.

iMediaEthics has written to the Hong Kong Press Council, and Oriental Daily News for more information and will update with any response.

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Hong Kong Journalists Association: Oriental Daily News Shouldn’t Have Published Photo of Child’s Suicide

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