A friend in Hong Kong just did a review of the highest bar in the world, the OZONE on the 118th floor of the Ritz in Hong Kong. (At Hong Kong Hotel, the World’s Highest Bar)
A couple of things…
- She noted that the three highest bars are in Shanghai and Hong Kong, two cities getting more infamous for the high levels of air pollution. (For a reaction to the pollution issue see: Tweets about Bad Air.)
- At the end of her extended comments about the bar Joyce noted: “I’ve heard some people here grumbling about the service. We were actually well served and treated. And, no — it wasn’t a press thingie. We went as normal diners and paid our own bill.”
Let’s talk about last item.
For American journalists there never would be any need to mention that a reviewer bad his/her own way. (Or at least had the news organization pay.) That is not the case around the world. And that is something American journalists have to understand.
During a panel discussion on ethics in journalism I chaired many years ago in Hong Kong for the Foreign Correspondents Club the differences between the American and European and Hong Kong journalists about what was ethical behavior was interesting. One Hong Kong journalist noted that if reporters did not get free tickets to movies or free meals at restaurants, there would be very few reviews in the Hong Kong media. American panelists expressed dismay at this position but recognized that — let’s face it there is no other way to say it — Hong Kong publishers are cheap.
The American panelists replied that if the only options were to accept a free ticket/meal or do no review, there would not be a review. For the Americans there was a clear bright line about what was allowed and what wasn’t. For the Hong Kongers the line was more muddled.
So to a U.S. eye, there are serious ethical problems with Hong Kong journalism. Yet, at the same time, Hong Kong journalists are the ONLY journalists in land controlled by Beijing that are not reined in by the government. The journalists in the Special Administrative Region are fiercely independent and (for the most part) willing to take on anyone and any government.
Joyce’s comment about who paid for the dinner is a good place to start for globally minded journalists to look for ways to discuss differences and similarities in how we do our jobs around the world.
(BTW, every journalist I knew in Hong Kong while I was there adhered strictly to the U.S. rule of accept no freebies. And at sometimes it was a shock to our European and Asian colleagues.)