Hong Kong boasts one of the highest levels of newspaper readerships in the world. And the province’s mainstream media as a whole is regarded as highly trustworthy.
So it was disappointing to wake up this morning to the report below in the venerable South China Morning Post.
The headline speaks for itself. Yet a closer reading of the article shows that the survey in question was not about newspaper credibility but about media credibility. In fact, public sector broadcaster RTHK tops the charts.
Some might call the headline disingenuous. Others would call it spin.
(The online version of today’s headline is more revealing: “Post tops survey on newspaper credibility as trust in Hong Kong media sinks to all-time low“.)
While trust in the mainstream media does indeed remain high, a majority of Hong Kong-ers reckon news in Hong Kong is censored, with too much criticism of the local government and too little of Beijing.
As we have seen across the border in mainland China (and elsewhere in Asia), the more people figure the mainstream news is slanted or doctored, the more they resort to social media and word of mouth to get the ‘real’ facts.
In a battle to retain its credibility (and circulation) against ever steeper competition, the Post is surely doing itself no favours by cherry-picking the facts.
UPDATE: January 05, 2014: Rumours behind Kim Jong Un allegedly feeding his uncle to 120 starved dogs emanated from Hong Kong paper Wen Wei Po. The story really got legs when it was run by Gawker, which has now partially retracted it, excusing itself by mentioning that Wen Wei Po is one of the least credible newspapers in Hong Kong as per the Chinese University survey cited above.