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Annual Report 2016

Annual Report 2016: Contents

Page 3: Message from the Editor-in-Chief
Page 4-7: The best of HKFP
Page 8: HKFP in the media
Page 9: Hong Kongs media landscape
Page 10: HKFP citations
Page 11-12: Staff and structure
Page 13: Facebook impact
Page 14: Social media impact
Page 15: Website analytics
Page 16: Office space and press freedom status
Page 17: Transparency report
Page 18: Support HKFP into 2017
Tel: +852 22971911
Hong Kong Free Press Limited, c/o D100, Room 701-705,
7/F, Core B, Cyberport 3, 100 Cyberport Road.

Message from the Editor-in-Chief

Call us brave, or foolhardy, but many questioned whether a new, publicly-funded nonprofit news outlet for Hong Kong would make it past its first year. Things were indeed
chaotic during the early months of Hong Kong Free Press as we learnt - usually the
hard way - how to gather news, devise a workflow and allocate our limited resources.
But despite entering an unstable industry at a tumultuous time, our committed and
hard-working team defied the odds and helped create something extraordinary.
Fast-forward a year-and-a-half, and HKFP has published almost 6,000 news and
comment pieces, evolving into an important, critical platform for local political affairs.
We have expanded our original reporting, gained a huge following and quickly
matured into a recognisable, go-to news source for Hong Kong's English-speaking
community. It is only through the astounding dedication of our team, the generosity of
our volunteers and the faith invested in us by kind donors that we have been able to
survive and grow.
From under-reported social issues in Hong Kong to the crackdown on civil liberties in
the mainland, this Annual Report lays out some of HKFP's best coverage since our
launch in June 2015. Though media companies cannot register as charities, we are a
non-profit firm, so have included a Transparency Report to show supporters how well
we spend each cent entrusted to us. We are also sharing some data about our
audience, traffic and social media reach, to demonstrate the breadth of our impact,
locally and internationally.
Thanks to the unique way in which Hong Kong Free Press is structured and funded, we
have a vital and timely opportunity to defend independent journalism and safeguard
press freedom in the city. As a news outlet, we strive to be as objective as possible in
our reporting, but we are outspoken when it comes to Hong Kong's core values; press
freedom, rule of law and freedom of speech are imperative to our journalism and we
will act as a watchdog whenever they are threatened.
For democracy to thrive, citizens need access to independent and diverse sources of
information - this has been sorely lacking in Hong Kong's English-language news
landscape. HKFP is not beholden to any media tycoon, corporate entity or mainlandowned umbrella group. HKFP has no shareholders we are answerable only to our
readers. If you believe in our
mission, please consider making a
regular contribution to help us
continue our reporting into 2017.

Tom Grundy,
Hong Kong Free Press.

The Hong Kong Free Press website officially launched

in June 2015 amid a blaze of publicity, and after a
record-breaking round of fundraising. Thank you to
all of our readers, donors, staff and volunteers who
have made supported HKFP since its inception.
Our first year HKFP by the numbers:
HKFP has served up over 14.5 million web pages to
readers during its first 15 months.
We now reach over 55,000 Facebook fans
and 30,000 Twitter followers.
We have published over 5,700 news and comment
In 2015 alone, over 1,000 supporters donated
over HK$1m to safeguard our independence.

Publishing a mix of original reporting, pick-ups, features, interviews,

investigations and viral pieces, our reporters have been fulfilling
our mission to fill the gap between Chinese and English coverage of
local and national affairs. We have also, as promised, been
investing our limited resources into original reporting this year. 4

The best of HKFP

We carried features on topics such as the plight of refugees, transgender rights,
the Sea Shepherd activist ship, womens football, contraception, animal
cruelty, poverty, the Tiananmen crackdown, a Paralympian, local theatre, recycling,
the Philippine elections, Chinese start-ups, the role of religion in elections, the HKU
Council, the crackdown on sex workers, the underground music scene, human
rights in China, a strike by market stallholders, art in China, elderly designers, and
the plight of domestic workers.

This year alone, we followed the bookseller disappearances closely with special
features, history pieces, translations and explainers. We reported on the HKU
Council debacle in detail, sparked a debate about gentrification in Sham Shui
Po and gave special coverage to press freedom and censorship issues locally
and nationally. We reported closely on Chinas lawyer crackdown, the lead water
scandal, LGBTQ and gender issues, the Wang Chau land controversy,
the Mapopo farm clearance and Zhang Dejiangs Hong Kong visit.

The HKFP team live-blogged the Policy Address and budget, the 2015 district
elections, the Tianjin blasts, the July 1st march, the 2016 elections, the Beijing
WWII parade, Taiwans elections, the Tiananmen massacre vigil, and the
anniversary of the Occupy protests.

HKFP also launched a new original video section with mini-documentaries

on a farm threatened by developers, a village threatened by the new Macau
bridge, a pay-as-you-wish restaurant and a womens-only market in India. 5

The best of HKFP

We broke news on subjects such as government misspending,
crime, identity, censorship, security issues at the airport, Chinese social
media, the IT awards controversy, leaked tapes involving the LegCo
president, and offered the best rolling coverage in English of the Taiwan
elections and Hong Kong legislative elections.

We have hosted exclusive interviews with activists Joshua Wong, Nathan

Law, Agnes Chow, Law Yuk-kai, Anastasia Lin and David
Webb, academic Timothy OLeary, politicians Tanya Chan, Anson
Chan and Paul Zimmerman, businessman Allan Zeman, singer Denise Ho,
whistleblower Billy Fung, filmmaker Christopher Doyle, as well as a
journalist ejected from China, activists Amos Yee and Chen
Guangcheng, authors Leta Hong Fincher, David Bandurski, Jason Y.
Ng and Louisa Lim, plus many others (including a famous cat).

HKFPs Kris Cheng was on the frontlines, providing multimedia coverage,

throughout Februarys unrest in Mong Kok. He also gave timely and
detailed coverage and analysis of the Panama Papers leaks and their
relevance to Hong Kong as well as breaking news reporting on the return
of bookseller Lam Wing-kee to the city. In October, he delved into the
National Archives in Britain, publishing revelations related to the colonial
governments interactions with Beijing.

The best of HKFP

In May, we were recognised at the Human Rights Press Awards for our piece
about sexual harassment on university campuses.

We have published explainers on the Small House Policy, One Belt, One
Road, parallel traders, the controversial copyright bill, the district elections,
the missing booksellers, Taiwans elections, the lead water crisis, TVMost,
the HKU Council debacle, and published comprehensive guides to mental
health and sexual health.

Over the past year, we have hosted hundreds of comment and analysis pieces
from Tim Hamlett, Howard Winn, Kent Ewing, Stephen Vines, A. Jacobus, Stuart
Wolfendale, Richard Scotford, Joyce Man, Frank Siu, Nury Vittachi, Jason Y.
Ng, Tom Holland, Surya Deva and dozens of others.

HKFP in the media

The Hong Kong Free Press story has been covered
widely by local and international news outlets.

ABC News Radio

Apple Daily
Al-Jazeera English
Asia Media International
ATV World
BBC World
Coconuts (1), Coconuts (2), Coconuts (3)
EJInsight (1), EJInsight (2)
FCC Magazine
Initium (1), Initium (2)
Inspire With Me
Krautreporter (German)
Marketing Interactive
Ming Pao Sunday, Ming Pao (1), Ming Pao
(2), iMoney Magazine (Ming Pao)

Mumbrella Asia (1), Mumbrella Asia

(2), Mumbrella Asia (3)
Next Magazine, Next Magazine video
Nikkei Asia Review
Open Democracy
RTHK Radio 3
RTHK TV (1), RTHK TV (2)
Stand News (1), Stand News (2)
Thats Online
The Australian
The Guardian
The Week
Time Out
TVB Pearl
Young SCMP

HKFP has also been featured on the BBC, Al-Jazeera, MSNBC and others.

Our positioning
Hong Kong Free Press is among the only independent
English language digital news outlets in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong independent Englishlanguage news (digital/print)

Hong Kong independent

news wire (digital)

Hong Kong Chinese-language news (digital)

Hong Kong English-language traditional news (digital/print)

Hong Kong Chinese-language traditional news (print)

The impact of Hong Kong Free Press goes far beyond the city. Our reports have
been cited and picked up by international outlets such as the BBC, Guardian and LA
Times. We are also monitored by global news agencies and are cited often by blogs
and academic papers.

Examples of pick-ups/citations sourced from HKFP:

Apple Daily (1), Apple Daily (2), Apple Daily (3), Apple Daily (4), Apple
Daily (5), Apple Daily (6).
BBC News (1), BBC News (2), BBC News (3), BBC News (4), BBC
News (5), BBC News (6),BBC News (7), BBC News (8).
China Digital Times (46 instances).
Ming Pao.
Quartz (1), Quartz (2).
The Daily Mail (1), The Daily Mail (2).
The Guardian (1), The Guardian (2), The Guardian (3), The Guardian (4).
The Independent (1), The Independent (2).
The Los Angeles Times.
The New York Times.
Time Out.
USA Today.
Wall Street Journal (1), Wall Street Journal (2).
Also: Russia Today, Cosmopolitan, The Register, Rappler, Global Voices (15
instances), TheWeek, Straits Times, Poynter, Metro, Stand News (multiple
instances), Shanghaiist (multiple instances), InMedia (multiple
instances), Coconuts (multiple instances),, Post852,The
Diplomat, Hindustan Times and others. Also: Live intl TV/radio reports from
HKFP HQ for BBC World Service Radio, TRT World & others.


Staff & Structure

Hong Kong Free Press is structured as a not-for-profit company,
limited by guarantee, not shares.



Editor-in-chief / Co-director


Deputy editor

Company members

Editorial Director
Senior Reporters








Editor-in-chief and co-director Tom Grundy is a British

multimedia journalist based in Hong Kong for 11 years. He has a
BA in Communications & New Media from Leeds University and is
completing an MA in Journalism at the University of Hong Kong.
His writing and photography have been featured in Quartz, Global
Post, Huffington Post, Time Out, Vocativ, New Internationalist,
Ming Pao, DPA, EPA and others. He has also contributed to BBC
World TV, BBC Radio, Democracy Now, CTV, Arise TV, Russia Today,
RTHK Radio, Sky News and Channel News Asia.
In 2012, he founded the popular Hong Kong news and culture
platform, In 2013, he co-founded a multimedia
advocacy and legal campaign for domestic workers.
Co-director Evan Fowler has run several research projects
exploring local identity issues. He has written about social,
identity and generational issues for the South China Morning
Post, China Daily, Asia Sentinel, Suddeutsche, the Indo-Pacific
Review and others. He was also a regular contributor to House
News. Evan is a columnist and co-director of Hong Kong Free
Press, which he co-founded in 2015.

Staff & Structure

Editorial Director Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an
interest in local politics. His work has been featured in
Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong
Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from
the Chinese University of Hong Kong. At HKFP, Kris guides the
team on Hong Kong political coverage.

Deputy Editor Catherine Lai is a Canadian journalist and

photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years,
working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and
mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and
feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the
University of British Columbia. Catherine became Deputy Editor
in September.

Reporter Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in

issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in
German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton

Reporter Ellie Ng is a Hong Kong journalist interested in

human rights and the environment. She has contributed to Al
Jazeera English, The Daily Telegraph, Foreign Policy, The
Guardian and other media outlets. She studied Anthropology
and Political Science at Middlebury College.

Volunteer Editor Tim Hamlett came to Hong Kong in 1980 to

work for the Hong Kong Standard and has contributed to, or
worked for, most of Hong Kong's English-language media
outlets, notably as the editor of the Standard's award-winning
investigative team, as a columnist in the SCMP and as a
presenter of RTHK's Mediawatch. In 1988 he became a full-time
journalism teacher. Since officially retiring nine years ago, he
has concentrated on music, dance and blogging.
Hong Kong Free Press would not be possible without the support and
assistance of our countless tech, accounting and editorial volunteers.

Facebook impact
Hong Kong has the highest Facebook engagement in the world, and the platform
has been integral to HKFPs success and fundraising efforts. We have witnessed
unprecedented growth in our Facebook audience in a short amount of time.

Growth in Facebook engagement compared to EJInsight, The Standard and the

South China Morning Post. Via, 16th Aug. till 15th Oct. 2016

Engagement refers to
the average amount of
how often a fan
interacts with the posts
of a page over time. It is
calculated by dividing
the daily amount of
reactions (likes, love,
wow, haha etc.),
comments and shares
by the number of fans.

Total number of
Facebook reactions,
comments and
shares compared to
other English media
Facebook pages over
the same period.

Social media impact

We have a sizable Twitter audience with
33,700 fans as of the start of November.
This is compared to the South China
Morning Post's 314,000 followers and
The Standard's 1,242 followers.

8,897 Tweets
20 per day on average

As HKFP invests more in video, we are

rapidly growing our YouTube audience. We
have seen half-a-million hits on our
uploads and are reaching 652 subscribers.

As of September 2016:



37 subscribers.




Website analytics
Since its launch in 2015, our website has seen:

14.5 million pageviews.

40% are returning visitors.
42% of visitors are from Hong Kong, followed by the
US at 18%.
Around 80% of readers use a browser set to English.
52% of readers visit us on a desktop computer, the
remainder use a mobile or tablet device.

HKFP mobile apps, as of September 2016:

Windows store

Apple App store


Google Play store



Office space
Hong Kong Free Press is grateful to D100 Cantonese digital radio for donating office
space to us with no strings attached. The generosity of the management at their
Cyberport office ensures we can keep our costs low in high-rent Hong Kong.
The space gives HKFP a
base and allows us to work
and train together as a
team, conduct interviews
and meet sources.

Press freedom status

HKFP is structured to minimize threats to
its operational freedom. However, there
have been several notable incidents and
since our inception:
May 29th 2015: A cyber-squatter registered
a domain similar to our own, later
redirecting it to state media outlet Xinhua.
June 1st 2015: The HKFP website suffered a
denial of service cyberattack prompting us
to bolster our server security.
October 2015: The website becomes blocked in mainland China.
October 27th 2015: An HKFP reporter is barred from entering a government press
conference. The government says that digital media outlets without a print edition are
banned from accessing the Government Information System and from press
conferences, hampering our ability to pose questions of officials.

Transparency Report
Our income and expenses between our date of incorporation to the end of 2015.
February 28th, 2015 to December 31st, 2015
1. Income
Among which

Others (advertising, events, etc)

2. Expenses
Among which


Office and sundry expenses


83% of all spending goes directly

towards supporting our hard-working team.
During 2015, HKFP employed around 5-6 staff members. Whilst staff were paid the
same rate during much of our first year, salaries are now more in line with industry
Aside from direct donations mentioned above (via FringeBacker, cheque, Flattr,
Bitcoin, transfer), other income streams since our inception include:
Google/YouTube/PIXELS display ads, directly purchased rate card ads, 3x official
events and merch sales.
Aside from those mentioned above, other expenses since our inception include: AFP
news wire, accountancy costs, audit and tax services, company secretarial services,
accountancy and security software, Google Suite tools, web hosting and domains,
employee insurance, travel/transport and postage/stationery.
HKFP is run as efficiently as possible in order to maximise the impact of our donors
generosity. We make savings by partnering with other media outlets and use free
software wherever possible. We also enjoy free rent at our office courtesy of D100 Radio.

Support HKFP into 2017

Cheque or transfer:

Our preferred donation method is cheque as this saves us on fees. Cheques may
be made payable to Hong Kong Free Press Limited and posted along with your
name and address to HKFP, c/o D100, Room 701-705, 7/F, Core B, Cyberport 3,
100 Cyberport Road.
Contact us if you would like contribute by bank transfer to our CITIC account.

Donate online via FringeBacker by credit card or PayPal.

You can make a one-off donation or monthly commitment online at Mastercard, Visa, Maestro, American Express, UnionPay,
PayPal, cheque or bank transfer accepted.

Advertise with us.

Support us and promote your business or cause at the same time. Request our
rate card and consider our affordable range of digital marketing solutions.

Donate equipment.

We welcome donations of new or used computer or audio-visual equipment.

Recent models are of most use to us at the office. We also welcome sponsorship
of our ongoing operational costs please get in touch if you can support us. See

Spread the word.

Help us grow invite your friends to follow us on social media. We can be found
on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Telegram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+.

Tip us with a micro-donation.

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