HKEJ Flies High with Cai

Joseph Chan - Senior Programme Director, HKUSPACE
(Translated by King Cheng)

In view of the growing difficulties facing today’s press worldwide, the local press has to think about how to make changes and reform for survival. The recent series of new initiatives launched by the Hong Kong Economic Journal (HKEJ), including a new design for the paper and efforts to explore business opportunities on the web, are its answers to the general trend of decrease in newspapers circulation and the changes in communications technology.

According to its chief editor, Mr. Chan King-cheung, a foreign study has predicted that with the current worldwide pessimistic development in newspapers circulation, all newspapers will vanish in 40 years. Yet, people in Asia, including Hong Kong, China and Taiwan, are more eager to read newspapers than the westerners, which would thus slow down the process of demise.

Chan noted that Asians have a growing urge for unbiased information and the control on information flow in China would be beneficial to the development of the free press in Hong Kong.

Apart from dealing with unremitting challenges, HKEJ’s recent business expansion is probably an intention to have a bigger market share of audience’s growing demand for refined and precise information. It is especially true for readers who are willing to pay for a newspaper after the introduction of free newspapers in Hong Kong.

Chan revealed that HKEJ will continue to focus on analysis and in-depth reports. It is learned that HKEJ has its own research department to analyze and study financial and economic issues which deserve special attention. Later, these abstruse reports would be passed on to reporters to be written into stories in plain language, instead of relying on financial corporations for analysis reports.

According to Chan, contents for the web version of HKEJ are basically re-edited published articles from the paper.

During the restructure of the paper in September 2009, Mr. Tim Chan, Content Director, Multi-Media, was given an additional title as Deputy Chief Editor of the HKEJ. It was believed that this new arrangement would help to strengthen coordination between the two sides for better use of resources.

Apart from continuing its leading role in Chinese financial news, HKEJ, perhaps more accurate to say, the owner of HKEJ Mr. Richard Li, also has an interest in the English financial news business. In early 2009, the company founded the Cai (with Chinese phonetic as wealth) website headed by Mr. Stuart Jackson, former business news editor of South China Morning Post, who has since recruited a batch of up to about 20 veteran financial journalists.

The strong team of reporters is not the only story providers to Cai. It is expected to have a supply of financial information from a company jointly owned by Caijing, a major mainland financial magazine, and a company under Mr. Richard Li. With the resignation of the chief editor of Caijing in late 2009, some of the terms of cooperation have to be rewritten, causing a delay in the launch of Cai in the market. Yet, the delay is only expected to be a short one and, as a matter of fact, it has been providing news to VIP accounts.

Despite the temporary hold-up in its plan to work with mainland financial media, Cai has a stable supply of information from HKEJ. At the moment, the former editor-at-large of South China Morning Post, Mr. Chris Yeung, is leading a team of over 30 journalists to run the English section of HKEJ. The team selects news stories from HKEJ and other news sources for rewrite or translation. Some of the team members are reporters. They cover news events and write stories to be placed on the web Cai for the English-speaking audience.

Cai aims to provide financial news from Greater China in English, with the objective of becoming the region’s counterpart to Bloomberg and Reuters. Whether or not Cai will achieve its objective, its actions so far, are encouraging in an otherwise depressing scene in the local media.