(A) News Sub-division
The News Sub-division is responsible for issuing government announcements to the media, ranging from information on matters of government policy to routine notices and weather reports. It channels information to newspapers, news agencies, radio and television stations, deals with press enquiries 24 hours a day and, in times of emergency, becomes the nerve centre for all government communications.
During typhoons, severe rainstorms or any other emergency, the News Sub-division is quickly transformed into a communications control centre manned round-the-clock by teams of officers working in shifts. Liaison officers are also deployed to any key departments directly involved to ensure that up-to-the-minute information on the situation reaches headquarters for dissemination to the media and the public.
The Sub-division uses a computer system to speedily transmit news items in English and Chinese to media organisations.
Government photographs are issued through a Digital Photo System that allows media organisations to conveniently carry out on-line searching and downloading of photographs.
The News Sub-division operates a 24-hour press enquiry service every day throughout the year.
It is also responsible for organising and conducting press conferences and meet-the-media sessions given by policy secretaries and heads of government departments. A media services team is responsible for planning and providing press facilities for public functions attended by top government officials and VIP visitors from overseas.
The News Sub-division issues press releases on government policies, reports and announcements. Since April 1, 1998, all major items are uploaded onto the Government Homepage on the Internet after their dissemination to the media. This arrangement ensures that the public have direct and quick access to press releases issued by the Government through the Information Superhighway.
(B) Media Research Sub-division
The Media Research Sub-division keeps the Government informed of public opinion as expressed in the print and electronic media. It produces daily reports summarising news and editorial comments as well as special reports on subjects of interest to the Government.
(C) Press Secretaries to Principal Officials, Secretariat Press Offices and Departmental Information Units
12 Information Officers have been posted to the private offices of Principal Officials to act as their Press Secretaries. In addition, information and public relations units have been set up in 34 Government bureaux and departments to enhance the flow of information to the news media and promote a closer relationship between the Government and the public.
These units are manned by Information Grade Officers seconded from the Information Services Department (ISD). They are responsible for -
- advising bureau/department heads on public relations matters
- answering media enquiries and questions from the public
- writing press releases for issue through the ISD News Sub-division
- organising press conferences and special promotional activities for their respective department
Among these units are 12 teams of Information Officers serving bureaux of the Government Secretariat. These officers advise and assist policy bureaux in the formulation and implementation of public relations and publicity matters.
The Press Secretaries to Principal Officials, Secretariat Press Offices and Departmental Information Units work closely with ISD headquarters on information, public relations and publicity aspects of the work of bureaux and departments.
In some cases, ISD officers accompany bureau/department heads on trips to major overseas conferences and exhibitions to facilitate media coverage.