Hong Kong journalist groups on Thursday condemned extradition bill protesters for harassing a television news cameraman who was covering their rally outside the justice minister’s office compound.
The TVB cameraman was filming the protest outside Justice Place in Central on Thursday afternoon when footage seemed to show a young protester – wearing black clothing and a mask – shining a flashlight in his eyes and into the camera lens.
Footage by another online news outlet, showed a protester using a yellow umbrella to block the cameraman’s lens while other protesters heckled him with verbal abuse.
As the cameraman was led away, some protesters were heard chanting: “Get away, rubbish. Why film us?” When the cameraman finally left the rally, many protesters booed.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association criticised the protesters for a “serious infringement of press freedom”.
“We appeal to the people to express views in a rational manner and not to obstruct media reporting, and also to respect the reporting rights of journalists,” the association said in a statement.
The TVB network has been unpopular with some activists because the station’s news coverage was perceived to be too conservative – and not critical enough of the government.
In a statement, the TVB news department expressed “extreme regret” over the treatment of its cameraman and urged Hongkongers not to “obstruct the normal reporting by frontline reporters”.
The station said its news reporting had been impartial, professional and objective.
The journalists association said protesters should complain to TVB if they were unhappy with its reports rather than vent their anger at frontline reporters.
The Hong Kong News Executives’ Association “strongly condemned” the incident.
“Reporting news is the unshirkable duty of journalists, and protesters should not treat reporters roughly when they are performing their duty,” the group said in a statement.
Later on Thursday, some protesters at the rally reportedly offered an apology to the cameraman.