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Annual Report

Annual Report 2017

Page 2: Message from the Editor-in-Chief Page 10: Staff & Structure
Page 3: Our Mission & Impact Page 11-12: Transparency Report
Page 4-6: The Best of HKFP 2017 Page 13: Press Freedom Status &
Page 7-8: 2017 Achievements HKFP’s Priorities in 2018
Page 9: Placement & Partnerships Page 14: Support HKFP

It has been another turbulent year for Hong Kong, with opposition at the
legislature neutered, the independence of the judiciary in question,
national security legislation back on the table and Beijing's hand in the city
becoming ever more visible. Whilst citizens remain unable to hold the
powerful to account at the ballot box, it is critical that an independent press
is able to operate freely and keep Hongkongers informed.
In 2017, our platform matured into a vital and influential part of the local
media landscape, having now published over 10,000 news and comment
pieces. We made big investments last year in our team, reporting tools,
original features and a new opinion section. In the autumn, our digital
outlet was finally recognised as a newspaper by the government, allowing
us proper access to press events. Despite a limited budget and resources,
we were able to punch above our weight and give greater focus to social,
human rights and minority issues missed elsewhere.
HKFP is run by journalists, backed by the public and is answerable only to
readers. No media tycoon can tell us to change, drop or bury a story. No
shareholders or umbrella company can influence our reporting. In an ever-
evolving media environment - rife with political pressures, commercial
difficulties, and well-funded state-sponsored players - our not-for-profit,
reader-backed model is standing up to the test.
We would like to thank our supporters for backing us over the past 12
months, and invite you to review our team's work as we prepare to report
on what may be another roller-coaster
year for the city.

Tom Grundy,
Hong Kong Free Press.

hongkongfp.com info@hongkongfp.com
Tel: +852 9447-3443
Hong Kong Free Press, The Hive Spring, 3/F Remex Centre,
42 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong. 2
Our Mission & Impact
Our mission: We aim to be the most independent and credible English-
language news source in Greater China. We seek to amplify the voices of
the voiceless, not the powerful. And our platform will act as a monitor
should Hong Kong’s core values and freedoms be threatened. The HKFP
team is fully committed to reporting the facts, without fear, favour or

• HKFP has served up over 26.5 million
pageviews since our 2015 launch.
• We now reach over 76,800 Facebook
fans and 81,400 Twitter followers.
• No.2 on social media among all Hong
Kong English-language news outlets.
• Our team have published over 10,000
news and comment pieces in
under three years, hosting writing
from 242 authors and organisations.
• We are reaching thousands of
readers though our newsletter, apps, LinkedIn, YouTube,
Instagram, G+, Telegram and other channels.
• HKFP attracts 30% more social traffic and 70% more direct traffic
than 20 other similarly sized local news sites.
• In 2016 alone, HKFP raised over HK$1m directly from donors to
fund our operations and safeguard our independence.

81,400 Twitter followers. 19,000 tweets. 35.00%
72.4 million tweet impressions in 2017. 30.00%
76,800 Facebook fans. Widest reach in 15.00%
Hong Kong, followed by the US and UK. 10.00%
1,800 YouTube subscribers. 15-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+
519 videos. 2.1 million views. Gender
Mobile Desktop Tablet

• 72% of HKFP readers use English as
a first language. Most are aged 37.90%

between 25-34, followed by 35-44. 62.10% 62.1% 31.6% 6.3%
• 61% are Hong Kong-based. 62% are
male; 38% are female. Website audience
Male Female stats since 2015. 3
The Best of HKFP 2017
Following our pledge to invest in original reporting, the number of homegrown
features we published this year almost doubled. We also gave greater emphasis to
social, human rights and minority issues and launched a new opinion section.

We published 300 stories on the 2017 Hong Kong leadership election, gaining
worldwide traffic to our live blog after we fought to access the vote count. We won
exclusive interviews with the city’s last governor Chris Patten; Hong Kong’s ‘public
enemy no.1’ pro-independence figure Andy Chan; the democracy activist beaten
by police in 2014, Ken Tsang; the anonymous British lesbian at the heart of Hong
Kong’s LGBTQ legal fight, “QT”; senior counsel Philip Dykes; and the city’s youngest
lawmaker who was ousted by a court.

This July, HKFP ran special features, interviews, columns and reflections on the 20th
anniversary of the Handover, Carrie Lam’s inauguration and President Xi Jinping’s
visit to the city. We hosted opinion pieces from figures such as activist Joshua Wong,
as well as interviews with lawyers and opposition leaders. We assessed outgoing
leader Leung Chun-ying’s legacy on civil liberties and profiled the city’s new leader.
HKFP was the only English-language outlet to publish full, live rolling video and blogs
of the pro-democracy resistance efforts and police crackdown during Xi’s state visit.

We also translated another televised “confession” by a detained China rights
lawyer as part of our ongoing coverage.
The Best of HKFP 2017
HKFP published original features on land rights issues in the New Territories and
villagers’ resistance efforts; pro-LGBTQ Christians working to reform the church; the
issues faced by Hong Kong sex workers; land rights issues in the heart of the city;
police targeting of ethnic minorities; activist fans defending their sports centre; a
new generation of young, politicised filmmakers and a band composed of asylum

We covered a community group creating public spaces for independent film;
highlighted the unchecked power of local developers; reported on the growing
phenomenon of compensated dating; the race to preserve rural minority “mountain
songs’’ the grassroots democratic efforts by a ‘shadow district council’; a group
seeking to support jailed democracy activists; discrimination faced by the
transgender community; sexual harassment in China; the continuing activism and
grassroots community work of Hong Kong’s ousted lawmakers and free speech and
selective law enforcement.

We also covered the city’s new upcoming national anthem law; controversies
surrounding the Zhuhai-Macau bridge; Howard Lam "abduction" case; the
anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre; the jailing of pro-democracy activists; the
border checkpoint row; and chaos in the legislature, among other topics.

As part of our aim to be “first in English,” we broke dozens of stories this year. We
were the first to report in English on the post-election crackdown on pro-
democracy activists; the resignation of Hong Kong University's Vice-Chancellor;
the jailing of Mong Kok protesters and activist Joshua Wong; and the conviction of
seven policemen for beating a pro-democracy activist. 5
The Best of HKFP 2017
In 2017, HKFP took a comprehensive look at street harassment in the city; published a
story about disenfranchised ethnic minorities, profiled a citizen who spent decades
suing the government and interviewed a journalist who was ousted from China. We
interviewed one of Hong Kong’s leading human rights lawyers; a veteran pro-
democracy politician; an Afghan journalist who survived a massacre and one of
Macau’s only pro-democracy activists.

We published two original features about homelessness in Hong Kong, as well as
features about environmentally disastrous packaging at supermarkets; poverty among
minorities in To Kwa Wan; government misspending; Buddhists seeking a greater
political voice; the pushback against controversial high-pressure exams in schools; a
Sikh temple which promotes equality though food; street food hawkers returning to a
local district and the death of a public housing estate at the hands of big business.

We hosted live coverage of the biggest ever protest by police officers, Typhoon Hato,
and the government’s Policy Address. We also employed a freelance researcher in
London to scour recently declassified UK files on Hong Kong, producing ten original
stories relating to the colonial authorities.

By investing in video, mobile and photographic gear this year, we were able to
provide richer multimedia reporting from the ground. 6
2017 Achievements
• This year, we launched an HKFP Opinion section for much-needed commentary
and analysis missing elsewhere in English. It features renowned writers such as
Steve Vines, Sharon Hom, David Bandurski, Ilaria Maria Sala, Tim Hamlett, Yuen
Chan, Jason Y. Ng, Vaudine England, Kent Ewing, Sai Pradhan and Evan Fowler.

• We launched new, dedicated sections for Macau and Taiwan coverage and
welcomed cartoonist Badiucao to our platform.

• HKFP won recognition as a newspaper this
autumn after a years-long fight against the
government. Previously, the authorities barred
HKFP and other digital media from attending
government press conferences to question
officials. We succeeded with the support of
the Committee to Protect Journalists, Amnesty
International, the Journalists Association,
Reporters Without Borders and others.

• In February, we “redacted” our
website as part of a campaign for
Amnesty International. By censoring
our homepage for a day, we helped to
raise awareness about the increasing
threat to free expression in the city.

• We openly advocated for LGBTQ and gender
equality, sponsoring Pride 2017 and publishing over
120 stories and features on the topic in 2017 alone.

• The HKFP story was covered by the BBC,
Al-Jazeera, Southside Magazine, Hong Kong
Tatler, Deutschlandfunk, NOS and RTHK
this year. Meanwhile, our staff reported for
an international audience on BBC World,
ABC Australia and others.

• HKFP moved its operations
from Cyberport to The Hive
following a public appeal. As
the team lost access to desktop
PCs, a kind donor provided four
new Dell computers. 7
2017 Achievements
• We rolled out Facebook Live
video coverage at events, and
published our first 360 sphere
image. We also launched and
automated our Flickr,
Pushbullet, Psiphon and
Instagram feeds.

• HKFP staff spoke at four local universities
and at conferences in the US, India and
Hong Kong. We hosted several groups of
local and foreign journalism students
and school groups at our office.

• In 2017, HKFP improved staff conditions to meet or exceed industry
standards, and held five professional development workshops.

• HKFP’s chief editor joined the Rory Peck Trust committee.

• In March, we launched a weekly HKFP Dim
Sum newsletter to showcase our best
coverage. As of December, we are reaching
over 3,000 subscribers.

• In June, we rolled out a new Stripe payment system for
monthly donations, making it easier and faster for readers to
make a one-off or regular donation. The self-hosted system
also saved us thousands of dollars in administrative fees.

• In September, we partnered with No Air-Con Night to
help promote green habits.

• In November, we linked with RTHK and PEN Hong
Kong to run a short story-writing competition, Top
Story 2017. It received a record number of entries.

• Also in November, we signed a contract with Dow Jones Factiva
to ensure our news is accessible through their databases across
the world. The deal also provided a new income stream.

• HKFP Voices aims to provide
a free platform for NGOs,
charities, academics, minority
voices and the powerless.
Several new partners joined
the platform in 2017.
Placement & Partnerships
Hong Kong’s media landscape:
Chinese-language news (digital):
Independent English
language news:

[independent bilingual news wire]

Chinese-language traditional news (print):

English-language traditional
news (digital/print):

Our impact goes far beyond the city: HKFP’s reporting has
been cited and picked up by numerous international outlets.

This year, our coverage was cited by the BBC, the New York Times, the Telegraph, Press TV,
TIME, the Daily Mail, multiple local and regional outlets and in several gov’t/NGO reports.

Advertising and media partnerships are a growing part of
HKFP’s income stream. Our partners have included:

Staff & Structure
Hong Kong Free Press is structured as a not-for-profit company, limited by
guarantee, not shares. We are answerable only to ourselves and our readers.

In-house Management

Editor-in-chief / Co-director Co-director

Deputy editor Company members

Editorial Director

Senior Reporters Contributors Columnists

Reporters & interns Volunteers Freelancers

In 2018, HKFP will form a board to enhance our accountability and corporate governance.
Our current full-time staff include:

Editor-in-Chief & Co-Director Tom Grundy is a British multimedia
journalist based in Hong Kong for 12 years. He has a BA in
Communications & New Media from Leeds University and an MA in
Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to
BBC World TV and radio, Huffington Post, Quartz, Global Post, Time Out,
Democracy Now, Sky News and Channel News Asia. In 2012, he founded
the popular local news/culture platform, hongwrong.com. In 2013,
he co-founded a multimedia and legal campaign for domestic workers.

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’s daily 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 was quickly
promoted to Deputy Editor after joining HKFP in 2016.

Senior Reporter Karen Cheung is a journalist and writer. She is the
co-founder and managing editor of Still / Loud, a new music &
culture online magazine in Hong Kong. She has written for Al
Jazeera, openDemocracy, ArtAsiaPacific, The Underground HK, and
HKELD, amongst others. In her past life as a law student, Karen
worked at Daly & Associates, DLA Piper, and Eastern Chambers. She
is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong, leading
HKFP’s legal coverage.

Hong Kong Free Press would not be possible without the support and
assistance of our countless tech, accounting and editorial volunteers.
Transparency Report 2016
As a non-profit company, HKFP is externally audited every year. Our income and
expenditure for the period between 1/1/2016 and 31/12/2016 was as follows:

Income Amount Donations [91%]
Advertising [8%]
Donations HK$1,063,125 Events [1%]
Bank interest [0%]
Advertising HK$92,276
Events HK$8,352
Bank interest HK$12
Total: HK$1,163,765

Expenditure Amount
Staff payroll HK$1,035,523
Mandatory Provident Fund (pensions) HK$50,942
Website, newswire text/photo, software HK$33,083
Office, sundry and recruitment expenses HK$25,801
Meals/drinks for volunteers and staff HK$25,531

Legal, professional and audit fees HK$10,845
Merchandise and delivery expenses HK$10,500
Travel HK$8,267
Stationery and printing HK$6,624
Bank charges HK$2,218
Total: HK$1,209,334

Staff Payroll [86%]
Mandatory Provident Fund (pensions) [4%]
Website, newswire text/photo, software [3%]
Office, sundry and recruitment expenses [2%]
Meals, drinks, entertainment [2%]
Legal, professional and audit fees [1%]
Selling and delivery expenses [1%]
Travel [0%]
Stationery and printing [0%]
Bank charges [0%]

Our balance as of the end of the year:

2016 total deficit: -HK$45,569

• In comparison, HKFP ended 2015 with a surplus of HK91,654 after tax.
• We are on target to end 2017 with a surplus.
• As a non-profit, any surplus is recycled back into the company.
Transparency Report 2016
• HKFP is run as efficiently and prudently
as possible, in order to maximise the
impact of our donors’ generosity. We
make savings by partnering with other
media outlets, using free software
wherever possible and making full use
of automation to save on labour costs.
In 2016, we also enjoyed free rent at
our office courtesy of D100 Radio.

• During 2016, HKFP employed 5-6 full-
time staff members.

86% of all spending goes directly towards
supporting our hard-working 24/7 news team
• Our income streams in 2016 included:
Donations, Google/YouTube display ads;
directly purchased rate card ads; events;
content sales; and merchandise sales.

• Our expenses in 2016 included: AFP news
wire service; accountancy costs; reporting
equipment; audit and tax services; company
secretarial services; accountancy and
security software; Google Suite tools; web
hosting and domains; employee insurance;
travel and transport; postage/stationery;
and meals/drinks for staff and volunteers.

HKFP will shift towards a monthly donor model after our 2018 annual
fundraiser. As of the end of 2017, we already have a total of 99 HKFP Patrons.
We need around 500 patrons in order to become fully self-sustaining.

• Through Fringebacker/PayPal, 59 monthly donors give an average of
HK$268 - totaling HK$13,535/month. Through our self-hosted Stripe payment
system, we have 40 patrons giving an average of HK$152 - totalling

• We receive HK$19,767 from patrons each month, excluding those who donate
by cheque/transfer. Donors are overwhelmingly from Hong Kong, though we
also have backers in the US, UK, Australia and China.
Press Freedom Update
A summary of major press freedom incidents in Hong Kong during 2017:
• A former editor at pro-Beijing Hong Kong
newspaper Commercial Daily resigns to seek
asylum in the US.
• Pro-Beijing newspaper Sing Pao says its
management received threats in the lead-up
to the chief executive election.
• The Hong Kong Journalists' Association files
a court challenge against the government's
non-recognition of digital media.
• Major news broadcaster i-Cable is sold to
property tycoons amid financial distress.
• A cybersquatter renews an HKFP domain name
to misdirect web users.
• Investigative magazine Next enters into a sale
agreement with businessman Kenny Wee.
• The Hong Kong government lifts its ban on digital
media outlets following a years-long campaign.
• Police launch an investigation after threatening
letters are sent to HKFP staff and their families.
• HKFP attends its first government event after the lifting of the digital media ban.
• Online outlet HK01 is criticised by the Journalists' Association for its treatment of
declassified Tiananmen massacre files.

HKFP’s Priorities in 2018
• In 2018, HKFP will focus on growing the number of HKFP Patrons - monthly
donors - in order to become more sustainable. We will also start running our
funding campaigns independently to save costs.
• We will further diversify our pool of contributors to ensure we are amplifying
views from minority communities.
• HKFP will form a governing board and code of ethics to improve our
• We will seek to expand our reach in English-speaking areas of Hong Kong, and
host more community events.
• Following our 2018 funding drive, we will invest yet more resources in original
reporting, with more homegrown daily reports as well as weekend features
and interviews. 13
Support HKFP into 2018
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