Nine Hong Kong reporters were forced to leave the APEC summit on Sunday after they ‘crossed the line’ by shouting questions to Philippine president Benigno Aquino. The reporters’ removal has sparked debate about the balance between aggressive reporting and heckling, and between good manners and freedom of speech.
This video from Now TV, edited by the AFP, shows the journalists’ actions around president Aquino and their subsequent ejection from the conference:
The Wall Street Journal reports:
“Have you met C.Y. Leung?” one male reporter screamed during a gathering of CEOs on the sidelines of the main APEC meeting. “Do you apologize to the Hong Kong people for the Manila tragedy?” another female reporter asks Mr. Aquino while aiming their microphones at him as he and his entourage were walking in a corridor, according to footage from local television network Now TV. […]
Sham Yee-lan, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association, said the Hong Kong reporters were just doing their jobs. “It’s normal for the reporters to shout questions loudly or take an aggressive approach because they care about the news” related to the Manila hostage crisis, she said.
She said the banning of the reporters “for asking critical questions is an outright infringement of press freedom that is totally unacceptable.”
South China Morning Post also reported on the reporters’ removal:
“We deemed it improper for media to act that way, as they didn’t talk normally but they were very demonstrative, like they were protesting,” Indonesian communications ministry official Gatot Dewa Broto, who is in charge of the Apec media centre, said. “So we did this due to security concerns.”
[President] Aquino’s spokesman, Ricky Carandang, meanwhile said the Now TV journalists had “crossed the line” by aggressively questioning the president about the Manila hostage siege in which eight Hongkongers were killed in a hijacked tour bus three years ago. […]
Carandang said the journalists had crossed an ethical boundary.
“As a former journalist I know what it’s like to aggressively question a subject,” he said. “The behaviour of these reporters crossed the line from mere questioning to heckling.” […]
The Hong Kong News Executives’ Association filed a complaint letter to Apec executive director Alan Bollard yesterday to express shock and regret.
“The confiscation of the reporters’ press passes is deeply regrettable, unacceptable and unnecessary,” association chairman Ronald Chiu Ying-chun said in the letter.