July 24, 2021

In Hong Kong, people are buying newspapers to look at the ads

At a time of protest live-streams and breaking news notifications, there has been an unlikely revival of the old-school print newspaper in Hong Kong.

Flip through the pages of Apple Daily these days and you’ll find it studded with quirky advertisements both large and small, some covering entire pages and others barely the size of a matchbox, tucked away in the classifieds section. But a common thread running through the ads is their vocal support for the newspaper, and more broadly Hong Kong at large. In a sense, buying ads in Apple Daily is Hong Kongers’ latest form of protest.

The fiercely independent Apple Daily, known for pulling no punches in its criticisms of the Hong Kong and Chinese governments, has so far borne the brunt of authorities’ crackdown on dissent. Its publisher, Jimmy Lai, was arrested in July under the new national security law for allegedly colluding with foreign forces, a crime punishable by up to life imprisonment. On the same day, some 200 police officers raided the paper’s newsroom, rifling through journalists’ desks and confiscating box-loads of materials. Angered by such a brazen attack on the media, Hong Kongers snapped up shares of Lai’s media company, driving up the stock price. The next day, people lined up in droves to buy copies of the newspaper.


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