網上媒體近年在香港如雨後春筍般興 起，特首林鄭月娥最近正式提出，開放予符合條件的網媒採訪。香港社會講求資訊自由流通，政府及相關機構近年 亦研究如 何安排網媒參與採訪，如何能做到機制公平合理，並維持原有的採訪機制有效運作，正是其 中關鍵。
政府現行舉行新聞發布會的做法，一 般是邀請已經登記成為政府新聞處新聞發布系統的大眾新聞傳媒機構， 這些機構包括根據《本地報刊註冊條例》、《電訊條例》或《廣播條例》註冊或取得相關牌照的報刋雜誌、通訊社、電台和電視台，各自 因應投資要求和影響力，各自遵守不同門檻的規管框架，做法行之有效，既能確保採訪過程的秩序，同時做到訊息準確有效發 布。在網媒 採訪上，無論從公平性或實際操作考慮，如何設定相關門檻非常重要。
綜觀世界各地其他政府處理網媒的採 訪，暫時還未有較統一的做法，一般都會規定網媒要經註冊、有一定數 量的編採人員或證明機構從事新聞報道工作，才會獲邀參加政府的新聞發布會。普遍認為，相關規定是合理的最低要求，否則完全無法想 像發布會將有多混亂，而相關規定應同時兼顧實際狀況作出修訂。
香港的網媒不少都以新聞命名，數以 十計，網媒的實際數量至今無法說準。假如政府就一些大眾關注的議題 舉行新聞發布會，對參加的傳媒機構沒有任何規限，可以想像得到出席的採訪人員的數量會非常驚人！縱然特首提出在場地和訪問時間上 會作出配合，相關安排在細節上仍令人不無疑問。除了現場採訪外，更重要的是如何可以有秩序的發放資訊，當局似乎暫未有提 出處理方 法。
傳統傳媒的定位相對簡單，做法有長 期表現作為參考，持牌電子傳媒更受當局監管，在新聞報導上需依照嚴 謹的新聞守則。日後開放網媒採訪，如何甄別出以採訪報道為主打，確保傳統媒體與網媒是在同一新聞水平進行操作，以使現存機制包括 新聞發布方式維持有效運作，是另一考慮的實際問題
香港向來推崇新聞自由及言論自由， 網媒的大行其道亦是社會發展催生的現象。在政府考慮開放網媒採訪之 時，必須仔細認真思索隨之而來的各式各樣問題，當中尤以如何界定網媒的身份最為逼切和關鍵。新聞自由可貴，如何在開放資訊渠道的 同時，又不至因為採訪報道失控間接影響新聞質素，實有賴完善的登記制度。制訂一個能兼顧秩序和開放自由的完善方案，是決 定開放網 媒採訪前的當務之急。
Concerns about Opening Up to Online Media
Hong Kong sees a booming industry of “online media” in recent years. The Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, has formally proposed to open to news coverage by qualified online media. As free circulation of information is highly respected in the Hong Kong society, the government and the relevant organizations have started looking into the issue, ensuring that the participation of online media will be arranged in a fair and reasonable way and will cause no compromise in the effectiveness of the existing mechanism.
In accord with the government’s current practice, invitations to press briefings are often given to mass media entities registered with the Government News & Media Information System of the Information Services Department, including newspapers and magazines, news agencies and radio and television stations registered or licensed under the Registration of Local Newspapers Ordinance, the Telecommunications Ordinance or the Broadcasting Ordinance. Such media bodies act upon the requirements of their investors and their influence to the society and stay behind their respective regulatory thresholds. So far so good is such a situation that both the discipline of news reporting and the accurate and effective release of information are maintained. As for news reporting by online media, it is of utmost importance that thresholds must be established to ensure the fairness as well as effectiveness in operation.
Governments around the world so far do not have a shared view on handling online media coverage. Common requirements for invitations to government news briefings include regulatory registration, a certain size of the editorial staff and proved engagement in news reporting business. It is generally accepted that such requirements are reasonable and minimum, in the absence of which news briefings will fall into chaos unimaginable, and the requirements should be revised according to changes in reality.
In Hong Kong, dozens of online media include the word “news” in their names, and the size of the entire industry is hard to estimate. In the case when the government is going to hold a news briefing on a publicly concerned issue but imposes no requirements on media attendance, it can be foretold the number of attending reporters will be dramatically high. Though the Chief Executive claims appropriate arrangements will be made regarding venue and Q&A session, the details of which are yet to be clarified. Besides the on-site issues, an even more important question is how to release the information in an orderly way, which the government has yet to put forward solutions.
The positioning of traditional media is relatively simple, with long-term performance serving as a reference. Licensed electronic media are more strictly regulated by the authorities and need to follow rigorous press code in news reporting. In the future when coverage is open to online media, another practical consideration is regarding the screening of media focusing on news reporting, so as to ensure traditional and online media will operate on level ground and the effectiveness of the existing mechanism, including the procedure of news briefing, will be maintained.
Freedom of press and speech has always been held in high esteem in Hong Kong, and the online media boom is a phenomenon arising from social development. Prior to opening up to online media, the government must make serious considerations to the various problems due to take place consequentially, amongst which the identification of online media is of the foremost and critical concern. So cherishable is the freedom of press, to open up the information channels on condition that news reporting remains under control, so that the quality of news remains intact and the freedom preserved, a well-considered system of registration is indispensable. Prior to the eventual opening up to online media, it is imperative for the government to make a plan that takes into account both order and openness.
Chairman, the Newspaper Society of Hong Kong