Since mid-2019, Hong Kong has faced an unprecedented situation. Protests and violent conflicts sparked by a proposal to amend the law on fugitive offenders have buffeted the city. To make things worse, the coronavirus outbreak that started in early 2020 has precipitated a recession in not just Hong Kong and the mainland, but also around the world. Our retail, catering, aviation, hotel and tourism industries are all badly hit by this unexpected crisis. Many businesses have been forced to cut their staff, shrink or suspend their operations and even close down. The difficult business environment has led to a collapse in advertising spending that has severely battered the newspaper industry.
Setting up an advertising platform
Fortunately, the industry has broken new grounds in recent years in responding to technological developments and readers’ growing use of electronic platforms. Traditional newspapers have successfully developed web editions, video news, electronic versions, webcasts and webinars, and increased their revenues from electronic advertising and online subscription. Regrettably, they have been barred from obtaining a reasonable return from electronic advertising because of the predatory business practices of social media and search engine platforms. In order to safeguard the profitability and sustainability of newspapers, members of The Newspaper Society of Hong Kong have banded together to set up a joint electronic advertising platform to ensure they could obtain their rightful share of revenue. When the platform becomes operational, advertisers will be able to directly place their messages in one or more newspapers’ online versions, so that they can disseminate their messages to targeted readers precisely. At the same time, newspapers will benefit from obtaining a proper return from such advertising, so that they can better serve and reward their readers, shareholders and staff.
Abiding by professionalism
In this age of information overload, people can easily obtain a large amount of information on the internet. But what people get is often a mixed bag of rumours and questionable reports that are hard to verify. In some cases, false reports have sparked panics. The Newspaper Society of Hong Kong has always regarded the press as a public institution that can shape public opinion and build a society. Newspapers operators must therefore have a strong sense of social responsibility. Taking their role as “gate-keepers” seriously, traditional newspapers provide readers with quality news and analyses by weeding out misleading and unreliable information through their stringent editorial and fact-checking processes, which are expensive to operate. As established media operators rooted in the city, members of The Newspaper Society of Hong Kong will remain truthful in providing readers with credible content from diverse perspectives and foster social progress by acting responsibly.
Enhancing professional standards
As the annual flagship programme of The Newspaper Society of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong News Awards seeks to propel the industry to enhance its professional standards. Despite a harsh business environment, member newspapers and their staff have strived to uphold professionalism by producing truthful reports for their readers. They have undoubtedly made a positive and irreplaceable contribution to the society. On behalf of member newspapers, I congratulate this year's award winners and hope that they will continue to work with fellow journalists to produce quality news to reward their readers. Thank you.