The death of Run Run Shaw last month has prompted countless tributes to the grand old man of Hong Kong cinema. Generally, commentators heaped uncritical praise on the movie and TV mogul for his achievements, his 'almost heroic, single-handed effort to build the movie industry', and his charity efforts after he made his billions. They lauded him as a man of vision and a pioneer who established HK as the Hollywood of the east.
Few, if any, chose to examine the not-so-positive impact Shaw made on the culture of film-making and the role he had played in the decline of the local movie industry. They ignore how Shaw had turned his studio into a production-line factory mass-producing low-quality 'products'. Nearly all newspaper articles preferred to focus on his 'contributions'. Shaw was commercially so successful that no one can knock him, or so it seems.
For a press that prides itself for unbiased reporting, this is very strange. It is even stranger when you consider that the free press issue arouses so much passion and controversy.
I am all for the freedom of the press. The importance of a free media, like clean air, is an issue no sensible person can disagree about. Often overlooked is the fact that free press alone is no guarantee of good journalism. The partial reporting of Shaw's death serves as a reminder of that.
For a full discussion, read the following blog article: