立場新聞 Stand News

I'm the HKFP editor — Let me explain why we didn't delete this photo

2019/7/4 — 17:18

圖片來源:HKFP facebook 截圖

圖片來源:HKFP facebook 截圖

I'm the HKFP editor -- let me explain why we didn't delete it.


While covering the historic protests, wildcat civil disobedience and dramatic clashes of recent weeks, Hong Kong journalists have also had to navigate ethical questions of photographing demonstrators. This week, HKFP faced some pressure over the use of certain images. All of our team understand the paranoia and suspicion that has affected the anti-extradition law movement – ultimately, the authorities must take responsibility for creating such an atmosphere. However, as journalists, we will also defend our right to report the news and exercise our press freedom when covering public events.



That is not to say that we do not act sensitively when it comes to minimising harm. There have been many cases lately where we have interviewed activists off-camera, or agreed to only publish their surname upon request. There are also many past cases where we have chosen not to run stories, or have granted anonymity to a source, because the person involved could be in physical danger. Case-by-case, we seek to curtail any risk to sources we interact with, and will make tough judgement calls on topics such as sexual abuse or stories involving minors.



Whilst some outlets have blurred the faces of anti-extradition law protesters, or avoided publishing identifying images, we adopt common standards when it comes to the ethics of photographing people in public or those committing high-profile acts of dissent.


At the height of Monday's occupation of the legislature by demonstrators – as the world looked on in disbelief – a well-known activist stood on a desk in the main chamber and made a choice. Surrounded by local and international reporters, he removed his facemask, saying: “I took off my mask because I want to let everyone know that we Hongkongers have nothing more to lose… Our faces have all been recorded. If we leave, Hong Kong’s civil society will go backwards ten years and we will never be back here.”

星期一晚示威者在全球注目下霸佔了立法會大樓,而一位知名的抗爭者在立法會會議廳站了在一張檯上並作出了抉擇。在本地和外國媒體記者的包圍下,他除去了自己的面罩,說到:「我除去了面罩,因為我希望所有人知道,香港人已沒有甚麼東西可以再失去……我們的臉都已被拍下來了。如果我們離開,香港的公民社會將會倒退十年,我們再也不能回到此地。」 (此段按英文翻譯,原話請參考其他中文報導。)

HKFP published two stories about the incident and one of our photographers captured the dramatic moment in the legislative chamber. We later received hundreds of comments demanding we remove the picture, causing the image to gain viral traction on Facebook.

HKFP 就事件刊登了兩份報導,而我們的一位攝影師拍下了這個在立法會議事廳的戲劇性場面。我們其後收到了數以百計的留言希望我們刪去照片,使照片在Facebook平台廣泛熱傳。

As neutral observers, we cannot retrospectively remove photos of activists to protect them from potential legal action. They can make a choice as to whether to disguise themselves or speak to the media, but it would set a worrying precedent if we gave into pressure and began deleting content from our archives. We, like most news outlets, have applied this basic principle since our inception as we cannot open the floodgates to people insisting that we delete certain stories or pictures when we are writing the first draft of history. This includes officials who try to retract on-the-record comments, or the Hong Kong police force who - in 2016 - tried to obtain video footage from HKFP for use in prosecutions. We refused to cooperate with the police, just as we have refused to remove the LegCo photo.


If we begin casting our gaze or cameras away from something inconvenient, we risk becoming activists, losing emotional distance or self-censoring, and this may have consequences for others in our profession. We hope our readers understand that, as Hongkongers press for freedom, we have a duty to safeguard press freedom and ensure the facts are reported fully.