Hong Kong Free Press editor-in-chief Tom Grundy: Our speed will make the SCMP better

HKFP editor-in-chief Tom Grundy

HKFP editor-in-chief Tom Grundy

The founder of Hong Kong Free Press, a soon-to-launch independent news site, has said that its speed in publishing stories in English will push market-leading newspaper the South China Morning Post to raise it game.

Talking to Mumbrella in an interview this week, Grundy said that while he does not think Hong Kong’s publishing giant is “losing any sleep over us,” his website will “make the SCMP better, because they will have to move faster.”

“Our speed and volume may cause some ripples. And we have no pay wall,” he said in a Q&A that detailed how HKFP plans to launch in a fortnight’s time.

As well as the worrying decline in press freedom in Hong Kong that the site aims to address, Grundy said that speed was an area of weakness in English-language journalism in Hong Kong.

“To get an understanding of breaking news in English in Hong Kong, we have to wait for up to six hours or sometimes two days to truly understand what’s going on. We plan to get stories out in English faster than Hong Kong is used to.”

Grundy said he did not see the SCMP as a competitor.

“They have a much larger infrastructure, more experience and more money. We see ourselves as complementary, an alternative source to turn to,” he said.

HKFP will also cover the mainland, which Grundy said was not well reported by the English-language press. The site is to introduce a special section called SinoBeat for the “surplus of China stories that never make it into English.”

HKFP is looking to bring in launch advertisers before the site goes live, with run-of-site display advertising opportunities available.

Sponsorship and native advertising will be on offer later, and the site – which has raised HK$600,000 from a crowdfunding initiative to get off the ground –  plans to introduce a merchandising arm to supplement ad revenue and donations. Items such as t-shirts, badges, pens, tote bags and mugs branded “Freedom of the Press” are to go on sale through the website.

On what sort of advertisers the site was open to, Grundy said “those who value a platform for open and independent expression in Hong Kong, and really value and want to support a platform that gives a voice to all sides of a story.”


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