Hong Kong’s Factwire News publication closes with immediate effect

Factwire, an independent news agency and publication in Hong Kong, said on Friday it would cease operations with immediate effect.

It is the fourth closure in the past year of a major media outlet that is not aligned with the pro-Beijing camp of the city’s establishment.

Beijing’s injection in July 2020 of a national security law and a powerful security apparatus into the city is seen by the media as having significantly curtailed press freedoms. The government disputes this analysis, but says reporting should remain legal.

Factwire, which specializes in investigative reporting, was established in 2015 with HK$4.7 million in funds raised from 3,300 supporters in three months. She did not specify the reasons for its closure, nor analyze the timing of it. Instead, he posted a heartfelt, but oblique, explanation.

“In recent years, the media has faced great changes. Although we repeatedly struggled with the difficult decision of whether or not to continue our journalistic work, we always came to the same affirmative conclusion: to stay true to our core values ​​and beliefs and always report the facts. But for everything there is a season, and a time for each goal. It is finally time to end our journey,” the publication said on its website.

“The FactWire News Agency will cease operations effective today, Friday, June 10, 2022. All staff will be terminated in accordance with pre-established procedures. All monthly subscriptions will also be suspended from today. Take care of yourself.”

The publication previously explained its mission in the About section of its website: “In a polarized society, we fill an important void left by a media industry that is increasingly undermined by government pressure, corporate interests and politically motivated self-censorship”.

In the past 12 months, police have raided two media newsrooms and forced the closure and liquidation of the city’s most widely read newspaper, Apple Daily. Its founder Jimmy Lai is currently in prison. Over the next few months, Stand News and Citizen News shut down.

Hong Kong recently picked a former police officer, John Lee, to take over as the city’s chief executive from early next month. Lee recently stated that “freedom of the press must meet the requirements of the law. Hong Kong is a place where the rule of law prevails, any action or activity must be legal.

The national security law has changed many aspects of Hong Kong life and society, from election rules to school choice of books and teaching materials. Since the arrival of the NSL, national security elements have been introduced into the city’s film censorship regulations, the public broadcaster RTHK has been overhauled, and the Hong Kong Journalists Association is currently under scrutiny. investigation. Lee’s agenda is believed to include passing a controversial additional security law known as Section 23, an anti-fake news law and crowdfunding regulations.

Jacob L. Thornton