The opinions that we reproduce throughout this special report almost always translate into a negative evaluation of the local media, especially those communicating in Chinese.
Will this be one of those cases in which there is a published opinion (the commentators and experts) and a public opinion – the people, anonymous, with different ideas?
So, if there is a newspaper that is said to have a print run of 120,000 copies * the degree of dissatisfaction cannot be too great.
There is, however, a tool that allows us to gauge this a little more accurately: since 2003, The University of Hong Kong, through the Public Opinion Programme, annually asks the residents of Macau for their opinion on local news media in general, thus assessing its ‘credibility’ (last data form 2016).
As the chart in these pages shows, there has not been much oscillation in the 13 years of validation.
It is true that the first numbers were the highest ever and since 2013 the value of 6.47 has never been reached; in fat, it has always been below 6 points.
From 2015 to 2016, however, there has even been a significant recovery.
2013, 2014 and 2015 represent the years in which Macau’s population has critically assessed the quality of local media – which may be associated with street protests at that time.
The survey conducted at the end of 2007 also rates the media low – having been conducted just weeks after the arrest of Ao Man Long.
“The ‘Ao Man Long’ case and the ‘Alexandre Ho case’ [another case of corruption known at that time] revealed the fragility of the supervisory system, undermined the government’s prestige, and aroused the attention of the Macau people to the issues of corrupt officials and businessmen.
“A survey shows that only 40% of people are satisfied with the Macau SAR Government, that pride in freedom of expression dropped by 10% over 1991, showing dissatisfaction with the predominant favour of the local press to the government,” according to Feng Bangyan and He Xiaojing, two researchers from the Faculty of Economics, Jinan University (Guangzhou).
* There is and probably never will be in Macau a control mechanism of runs, whether official or as a result of self-regulation. Talking of numbers is therefore almost impossible: since the printing press where newspapers are printed does not disclose information, it is up to each publisher to declare what they want and how they want it.
Hong Kong: Highs and lows
The Public Opinion Programme also measures the credibility rating of Hong Kong media in general – not from 2003 but from 1997.
And the results are not as different as we might expect.
As the chart on this page shows, the best results achieved so far were also the first following the handover of the Administration (6.44 points), climbing in 2010 but from there always descending.
To see the similarities with the Macau survey, while in Hong Kong the maximum and minimum values vary between 6.44 and 5.66, in the MSAR maximum credibility reached 6.47, while the lowest value was 5.2.