Official records show that the number of Hong Kong students applying to journalism programs has declined, with Hong Kong University receiving only half the number of applications received five years ago last year.
The fall in the number of applications, examined by Young post, reflects a potential lack of interest in becoming a journalist in Hong Kong, casting a shadow over the future of the field.
âThe social and political environment does not encourage the development of journalism,â said Ronson Chan Ron-sing, president of the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA).
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He said that many journalists have left the industry due to low salaries and Hong Kong needs new journalists to maintain a free flow of information.
Statistics from the Joint University Programs Admissions System (JUPAS) show that the four state-funded universities that offer journalism and media programs – HKU, Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) and City University of Hong Kong (CityU) – have seen a drop in the number of applications for these disciplines.
Earlier this year, 865 people applied to HKU’s undergraduate journalism program through JUPAS, up from 1,184 last year and 1,301 in 2019. In 2016, 1,726 people applied, double the number of 2021 .
At HKBU, this year’s application numbers for the program covering journalism, digital media, public relations and advertising were not yet available, but those numbers were 4,019 last year, 6,411 in 2017. and 11,936 in 2013.
At CityU, the number was 3,799 this year, up from 4,576 last year and 6,310 in 2016. CUHK reported that 1,541 people applied for its undergraduate journalism and communications program this year, up from 1,832 last year and 2,071 in 2016.
In fact, the number of people taking JUPAS has also decreased over the years. The number stood at 40,012 this year, up from 46,346 three years ago.
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“Young reporters are needed … and (having) university students studying journalism is the most efficient way to make our industry work,” Chan said.
He cited the arrests of Apply daily newspaper reporters on national security offenses to explain the risk of being a journalist in Hong Kong. The newspaper, known for its pro-democracy stance, ceased operations in June.
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The Hong Kong Press Freedom Index – the results of a survey of 367 journalists by the HKJA and the Public Opinion Research Institute – fell to its lowest level this year.
99% of reporters who took part in the HKJA investigation said the National Security Law had violated press freedom, citing events such as the prosecution of Bao Choy, a former RTHK producer who was convicted of submitting “misleading information” to access the public archives of his documentary covering the Yuen Long attacks during the 2019 protests in the city.