February 21, 2005

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Police hold-up

As predicted in October, Hong Kong's media is unhappy with the new digital and secure police communications system. The SCMP reported:

Police have been accused of holding up major breaking news for more than 6 hours on average since blocking media access to police radio calls...Reporters are no longer able to hack into the police communication system to race to a crime scene and must rely on the public and police controlled information.
The happy consequence of this policy is no more horrific front page photos. Reporters are being forced to find stories rather than tap (illegally) into the police radio and beat the cops to the scene. However there's a worrying flipside to all of this, which the same article touches on:
The journalist association's chairwoman, Cheung Ping-ling, said Hong Kong should follow the practice of major cities such as New York and allow media to be station at major police stations to access communication systems jointly with police.

But Chief Superintendent Alred Ma Wai-luk said there was no justification for police adopting Ms Cheung's suggestion. "There is no Utopia on Earth. It is impossible for any department or government to be 100 per cent transparent. We will release news which involves public interest."

Why do the police decide what news is in the public interest? Ms Cheung's suggestion is reasonable. The police should either implement it or institute a system where all reports are made public after a set amount of time e.g. 2 hours. The police shouldn't be in the news game. Let the public decide what's in the public interest.

posted by Simon on 02.21.05 at 11:19 AM in the


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