Hong Kong Free Press

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Hong Kong Free Press
Non-profit
Industry Online newspaper
Founded 29 June 2015; 3 years ago (2015-06-29)
Founder Tom Grundy & Evan Fowler
Headquarters Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong
Website www.hongkongfp.com

Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) is a free, non-profit online newspaper based in Hong Kong. It was founded by independent journalists in response to concerns over declining press freedom in the territory; to provide an alternative to the dominant English language news source, China's Alibaba-controlled South China Morning Post; and to provide quicker English coverage of local news.[1][2]

Beginning in late 2015, access to the site from Mainland China was blocked by the Chinese authorities.[3]

Background[edit]

Hong Kong Free Press was established amid conditions of rising concerns about the availability of balanced independent news reporting in Hong Kong. Organisations such as Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Hong Kong Journalists Association and PEN America have all decried the state of press freedom in the city, which is often affected by self-censorship as publications avoid criticising Beijing in order to maintain advertising revenues.[1][4]

The South China Morning Post, long considered the city's English-language newspaper of record, was accused of political self-censorship after the paper was purchased in 1993 by Robert Kuok's Kerry Group, which had extensive investments in Mainland China,[5] and this criticism intensified after its takeover by Alibaba in 2016. Numerous senior staff have been purged from the Post since the 1990s, allegedly for political reasons.[6] In 2014, four more prominent columnists were sacked by the Post, writers who were "sometimes critical of Beijing and Hong Kong", with some analysts suspecting involvement by the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government.[5][7]

Newspapers and journalists have also increasingly been subject to physical attacks, including the firebombing of the home of publisher Jimmy Lai, an earlier offal attack on Lai, the firebombing of the Next Media headquarters, the chopping attack on former Ming Pao chief editor Kevin Lau, and assaults on various reporters by pro-government, anti-Umbrella Movement protesters in 2014.[8][9][10][11] In October 2014, a group of pro-Beijing protesters physically blocked distribution of Apple Daily for nearly a week by obstructing the driveway of the printing facility.[12][13]

Inception[edit]

Crowdfunding for the venture took place on Fringebacker and aimed to raise HK$150,000 during a one-month period to support two journalists. The $150,000 was raised in only two days and so the goal was raised to $500,000.[14] The fundraising campaign concluded in June 2015 with more than $600,000 raised. HKFP took on more journalists and contributors and established headquarters in the offices of D100 in Cyberport. The full website was formally launched on 29 June 2015.

In the long term, HKFP plans to achieve financial sustainability through "continued crowdfunding efforts, advertising and sponsorship events" and by operating with minimal overhead costs.[14] Tom Grundy, a freelance journalist who co-founded the website, stated that the site would "start with simple local news, and investigative pieces about Hong Kong" and that "we have no political agenda. We simply aim to be credible".[14]

In the first year after its inception, HKFP published 4400 journalistic pieces attracting over 3.5 million unique visitors.[15] In late 2017 the offices of HKFP were moved from Cyberport to Kennedy Town.[16]

See also[edit]

  • FactWire – a crowdfunded Hong Kong news agency
  • The Standard – a Hong Kong English language newspaper

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Hong Kong Free Press launches crowdfunding campaign". Time Out Hong Kong. 10 May 2015. Archived from the original on 14 July 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  2. ^ Baiocchi, Francisco (30 June 2015). "Activist turned editor who tried to arrest Tony Blair launches crowdfunded Hong Kong news website". Press Gazette. 
  3. ^ "Hong Kong Free Press falls foul of Great Firewall, blocked in China". Hong Kong Free Press. 6 November 2015. 
  4. ^ Chen, Frank (12 January 2015). "How press freedom in HK is being destroyed". Hong Kong Economic Journal. 
  5. ^ a b Moriarty, Francis (27 May 2015). "Hong Kong paper loses four top voices: A pro-China 'putsch'?". Christian Science Monitor. 
  6. ^ Gould, Vanessa; Lee, Nelson; Lee, Bryan (28 February 2001). "SAR defends rights record". The Standard. Archived from the original on 6 February 2015. 
  7. ^ "Leading Columnists Purged at Hong Kong's Paper of Record". Asia Sentinel. 20 May 2015. 
  8. ^ Mok, Danny; Lo, Clifford; Cheung, Tony (12 January 2015). "Firebombs hurled at home of Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai were 'attack on press freedom'". South China Morning Post. 
  9. ^ "Offal attack on Lai as trio pelt tycoon with pig guts". The Standard. 13 November 2014. Archived from the original on 20 July 2015. 
  10. ^ Lo, Wei; Chan, Samuel; Kao, Ernest; Lai, Ying-kit (27 February 2014). "Kevin Lau, ex-Ming Pao editor injured in savage chopper attack, stable after surgery". South China Morning Post. 
  11. ^ Jim, Claire (25 October 2014). "Anti-Occupy mob roughs up Hong Kong journalists". Reuters. 
  12. ^ Yeung, SC (14 October 2014). "What the Apple Daily siege means for press freedom". Hong Kong Economic Journal. 
  13. ^ Lee, Eddie; So, Peter (14 October 2014). "Anti-Occupy protesters defy court order, block Apple Daily delivery". South China Morning Post. 
  14. ^ a b c Sala, Ilaria Maria (20 May 2015). "Hong Kong to get new crowdfunded independent newspaper". The Guardian. 
  15. ^ "A year of Hong Kong Free Press: On our first anniversary, a look back at our best coverage". Hong Kong Free Press. 29 June 2016. 
  16. ^ "Hong Kong Free Press moves to The Hive co-working space in Kennedy Town". Hong Kong Free Press. 19 October 2017. 

External links[edit]