A new independent digital news source is launching in Hong Kong to give critical voices a new platform amid fears that press freedom is waning in the territory.
Called Hong Kong Free Press, the not-for-profit site is set to launch next month with the aim of “bridging the gap between Chinese and English reporting while providing a platform to raise global understanding of Hong Kong and China issues.”
“Free and independent, HKFP arrives amid rising concerns over declining press freedom in Hong Kong and during an important time in the city’s constitutional development,” a briefing on the website reads.
The site is promoted as the only news outlet in Hong Kong with an encrypted channel for whistle-blowers.
“The Umbrella Movement protests exposed a gap between the Chinese and English media,” the site reads. “Some stories, themes and angles featured in the Chinese media were missed or ignored by the English press – other stories took days to be reported on. A free, unfiltered online English news source that bridges this gap is overdue.”
Hong Kong Free Press is led by independent journalist Tom Grundy, the founder of local blog Hongwrong.com. Grundy was one of the most high-profile international journalists covering the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong and is a free press advocate. During the protests that started in September last year, Grundy was hit by an anti-Occupy Central protester amid numerous reports of intimidation of the press.
A report from the International Federation of Journalists in January found that press freedom in China and Hong Kong suffered one of its worst years in recent memory in 2014.
The report, which was based on accounts from reporters operating in China, Hong Kong and Macau, suggested that ‘invisible black hands’ had been manipulating the media during the Occupy Central movement.
In a recent Reporters without Borders press freedom index, Hong Kong fell nine places to 70th, while China fell one place to 176th, just three places above North Korea.
HKFP intends to make money through membership, advertising, events, donations and content provision. It is starting out with a crowd-funding drive through FringeBacker.com and aims to raise HK$150,000 in 30 days.