After 18 years of publication, Apple Daily Taiwan ended its print edition on Monday, citing changes in the media environment and continuous operating losses amid Beijing’s clampdown in Hong Kong.
On Sunday night, Ip Yut-kin, chairperson of Next Digital, visited staff at the Taiwanese headquarters as they printed the last edition of the paper. “It is as though you’re watching your son die,” said Ip, who shed tears at the sight of the historic moment. It was marred by the absence of founder, Jimmy Lai, who is serving a 14-month jail term for a peaceful protest in August 2019. “It is distressing to see my colleagues cry,” he added.
Ip pledged to follow the advice of Chief Executive Officer Cheung Kim-hung and regularly visit the company in the future. “I will do whatever I can to help, given the difficult circumstances the company is facing.”
“It is okay to feel disappointed, but don’t lose hope,” he said to Hong Kong coworkers.
Speaking anonymously, a member of the editorial who has been with the company since its founding, said the paper broke with traditions in Taiwanese media by creating a specific page for readers’ complaints and putting minor news on the front page.
“The most attractive factor of Apple Daily Taiwan is that the paper tackles any unfairness the people encounter, no matter how small these incidents are deemed to be,” he said. The paper covers any topic as long as it is truthful and has news value, even if it may put off advertisers.
Morale among the staff has been low due to the political crackdown in Hong Kong. The abrupt end of the print publication also left many in despair, he confessed, but the editorial staff have set aside their emotions to complete the last edition on Monday.
Among the 326 employees affected, most are staffers of the print version and a number are veteran journalists, which he described as a pity.
Despite being laid off, one reporter, who has spent 15 years at the company, cares more about the situation of Apple Daily in Hong Kong instead and offered his support. “I saw the drastic changes in Hong Kong over the past two years. The freedom and open-mindedness, which the city had been proud of, has now become a crime under the regime. It is chilling to witness, so I always felt that I should do whatever I can,” he said, sending his best wishes to his peers in Hong Kong.
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