Category: Media

‘Riot’: How the Hong Kong press covered June 12

Newspapers may not be the force they used to be but the way they handle big stories is still revealing.

Following an extraordinary day in Hong Kong yesterday, let’s see how the main papers covered it.

Main headline: Riot

First up is the Oriental Daily News. Its editors deserve a certain recognition for this powerful front page, even though it is, to be frank, quite misleading.

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SCMP’s lost mission

Alibaba COO Joe Tsai was one of the big names at RISE yesterday, but if you went hoping for an insight into a media title grappling with digital, you’d have been disappointed.

There was almost nothing that we didn’t hear at the time of the acquisition, rather confirming the view that the Alibaba crew are billionaire dilettantes not terribly interested in their new media toy.

They’ve been at it for 18 months but neither Tsai nor SCMP CEO Gary Liu could share a single number about page views, ad sales or investment.

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SCMP: Ma survives cloying interview but has no idea how to fix business

The SCMP’s ‘exclusive’ interview with new boss Jack Ma is exactly as you’d expect.

Screenshot 2016-04-21 16.59.02The one highlight is the unintentional lulz from writer Chow Chungyan, who declared that the acquisition had sparked fears that the Post would “change its direction.”  That is 100% wrong; people feared it wouldn’t change course. He adds:

A few even believed the paper might henceforth gloss over sensitive or controversial issues that risked incurring the wrath of the Chinese leadership.

To prove that the Post wasn’t in the glossing over business, the writer refrains from asking about the Panama Papers coverage, the steady decline in press freedom and the bookseller abductions and instead lets Ma to treat us to banalities about eastern philosophy. Continue reading

SCMP: It’s been a long way down

If you’re running an umbrella business, you’re praying for rain. If you own a bus company, you’re hoping for a train strike. And if you’re in the newspaper business, nothing sells like a scandal.

SCMP‘s new owners Alibaba couldn’t have wished for a better start when the scandal of the decade fell into their lap on the day they formally took control.

They tore down the site’s longstanding paywall and fearlessly promised readers the most “comprehensive and credible” news site in Greater China. Despite this laudable aspiration to become more trusted than People’s Daily, the new bosses completely buried the story of history’s biggest data leak, one in which Hong Kong plays a central role.  Continue reading

Nothing for Money

An open letter to RTHK’s Money For Nothing programme
Dear Money For Nothing
I’ve finally figured out your name: I pay taxes to fund your show, and I get nothing for it. Hong Kong is one of the world’s most exciting business cities, and you miss all of it.
Right now you’re probably preparing for the Monday show, so let me guess: the big story will be the US unemployment figure. Then you’ll talk about what Bernanke’s going to do, or maybe Draghi, and because it’s a Monday you might fill in with some blather on China before you get to the Jon Stewart clip. Then finish with a pointless light story, like a dotcom billionaire building a tiger sanctuary in Bhutan.
Unless your target is a 75-year-old day trader without an internet connection, there’s nothing fresh, original or meaningful there.

What’s missing is everything that’s not finance. Hong Kong has some cutting-edge industries, like aviation and logistics, that offer plenty of material, not to mention an audience craving information, but you give them no reason to tune in.
The finance topics that you are so devoted to are done in more depth elsewhere, so there’s no need for financial types to listen either – unless it’s to hear themselves.

Because if there’s one thing worse than the irrelevant content it is the steady stream of bankers, fund managers and stock analysts dispensing their unreliable advice.  These are the unembarrassed hustlers who got us into this mess. Brian Curtis not only fawns over them like a Wanchai bargirl; he actually asks them for stock tips.

I could rattle off a dozen easy-to-get stories in each of those sectors above. Your programme has managed to avoid all of them. I’m actually wondering if it’s part of a plot to even further marginalise RTHK.
Long story short: drop the banksters, cut back the global, focus on the Hong Kong real economy. You’ll get some listeners back, and people might take you seriously again.
You’re welcome
Robert Clark