An alliance of 70 online media outlets on Sunday vowed to continue to send reporters out onto the city's streets, despite the police's refusal to recognise them as bona fide journalists.
At a press conference, the Alliance of Hong Kong Online Media Practitioners said some of its members had tried and failed to register with the Government News and Media Information System – with registration now a prerequisite for local reporters to be recognised as genuine journalists, according to the police.
The alliance said the various reasons given to outlets who were refused registration included that they hadn't published enough stories, or that they had received too few "likes" on social media.
"All of us are facing the same problem. The Hong Kong government or the Hong Kong police are trying to stop us from carrying out on-the-spot interviews. This is unacceptable," said spokesman Bruce Lam.
The alliance accused the police of trying to divide the territory's media, noting that even though some online outlets may only have small-scale operations, they have been responsible for capturing some of the most dramatic and important footage during the SAR's months of unrest.
Pro-democracy lawmaker and former journalist Claudia Mo, who joined the alliance at its press conference, said reporters for online outlets in the territory are genuine media workers. She also dismissed any suggestion that some online reporters are not up to scratch.
"Most of our online journalists are reporting on-the-spot...live. What we see, there and then, you see it online. So there is no 'fake news' reporting," she said.
In response to the alliance's comments on registering with the government media system, the Information Services Department said it does not look at the number of "likes" an outlet has on social media when considering applications.
It said as long as an online outlet can prove it publishes news at least five days per week and has an editor and at least one reporter, it will be able to register.