FactWire (Chinese: 傳真社) is an investigative news agency headquartered in Kowloon, Hong Kong. 3,300 Hong Kong residents funded and founded FactWire in the first round of seed fund via the crowdfunding platform FringeBacker in 2015.
|Founded||August 18, 2015|
|Headquarters||Kwun Tong, Kowloon|
As a non-profit public service news agency, it was established on 18 August 2015, and became operational on 1 March 2016. FactWire mainly focuses on watchdog investigative reporting wired to a large number of Hong Kong's mainstream news outlets.
Train quality exposé
In July 2016, the agency published an exposé on the secret recall of Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) C151A trains to their manufacturer, CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co., Ltd. The trains reportedly suffered from a multitude of quality issues including underframe cracking, which can threaten the structural integrity of an entire train car. The agency quoted a former Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation executive who stated that cracks forming in new components was "very unusual" and a sign of quality issues. Factwire reporters filmed the trains, covered under tarps, being shipped out of Singapore under cover of darkness, and later located the trains at the CSR Sifang plant in Qingdao. The same day, the agency published a piece revealing that the Hong Kong government's Transport and Housing Bureau had been aware of the quality issues for more than a year. A whistleblower emailed the bureau in January 2015, but absent any government intervention the MTR Corporation awarded a HK$6 billion contract for 93 new trains to CSR Sifang in July 2015.
Singaporean transport minister Khaw Boon Wan responded that the underframe cracks were a routine issue that had been blown out of proportion. He blamed the controversy on Sinophobia, stating that the story was motivated by "factions in Hong Kong who wanted to cause some difficulties for mainland China." He further stated that a layman would not understand the difference between a serious crack and a minor one, and that publicly disclosing the cracks could have caused undue panic. The Land Transport Authority blamed the cracks on impurities in the car body, and stated that the trains remained safe for service. Factwire released an open letter in response to Khaw's comments, stating that it "deeply regretted" the remarks and criticised the minister for blaming the news agency "instead of taking responsibility for an incident which has damaged the Singaporean public’s trust in the authorities". The agency denied that its reporting was politically motivated and explained that "every investigative report published by FactWire must be founded on impregnable evidence and cover serious public interests at stake. We will never allow commercial or political considerations to override our professional journalistic judgement."
After publishing the reports Factwire received anonymous threats and reported an "unidentified individual" acting suspiciously outside their offices, despite the fact that the address of their newsroom had been kept secret. The anonymous message stated "the subway train story has caused a big reaction, someone sent/ sending some trouble your way". Factwire responded that "[our] investigation reports are not meant to target any particular party. We have a duty to the truth." Hong Kong has seen violence against journalists in recent years, including the knife attack on Kevin Lau and various firebombings against Next Digital.
Taishan Nuclear Power Plant Defects Exposé
In December 2017, Factwire reported that they had uncovered cracks in important components of reactors in the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant, including a defective reactor vessel head that was set to remain in use for seven years. The boiler had cracked during testing, and that welding on the component was termed "problematic". Factwire questioned why the nuclear power plant should be allowed to go online despite these defects and plausible danger to nearby neighborhoods. On June 29, 2018, Taishan 1 proceeded to be connected to the grid and became the first EPR to enter commercial operation on December 13, 2018. CGN Power, the plant's major shareholder, did not respond to FactWire's enquiries.
Awards and Recognition
|Award Type||Category||Title of Entry|
|Excellence in Investigative Reporting
|Honorable Mentions||Did anyone really die in Prince Edward MTR
on Aug 31st?
|SOPA Award for Public Service Journalism
Track the fake news in Anti-Extradition Bill Movement
|Award Type||Title of Entry|
Investigative Feature Writing Chinese Merit 調查專題 中文 優異奬
|太子831 傷者數目1小時改4次 僅1人見過首名救護員 至少10人曾表不適未獲送院|
- Hong Kong Free Press – a crowdfunded English news website
- "About". FactWire. 2015. Archived from the original on 16 August 2016. Retrieved 31 July 2016.
- Tan, Shaun (31 May 2016). "A new journalism startup in Hong Kong is betting the public will pay for unbiased news". Quartz.
- "China manufacturer for MTR secretly recalls 35 SMRT subway trains after cracks found". Factwire. 5 July 2016. Archived from the original on 8 July 2016.
- "HK Government Tipped Off About Singapore Subway Trains Crackings A Year Ago, Emails Reveal". Factwire. 5 July 2016. Archived from the original on 16 August 2016.
- Koh, Valerie (12 July 2016). "Train cracks: Routine matter spun into controversy, says Khaw". Today.
- Lim, Kenneth (12 July 2016). "Going public on train cracks could have caused undue panic: Khaw". Channel NewsAsia.
- "An Open Letter to Singapore's Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan". Factwire News Agency. 13 July 2016.
- Shan, Ho; Mudie, Luisetta (19 August 2016). "Hong Kong's FactWire Vows to Ignore 'Warning' After Train Safety Expose". Radio Free Asia.
- Yuen, Chantal (18 August 2016). "'FactWire will maintain its stand,' says newswire after receiving threat for subway train exposé". Hong Kong Free Press.
- FactWire (2017-12-12). "Tests reveal crack in key component of Chinese nuclear power plant, 130km west of Hong Kong". Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. Retrieved 2020-01-03.
- "Troubled Taishan nuclear plant secretly comes online despite defects – FactWire News Agency 傳真社". FactWire. 2018-06-18.
- "The first of two EPR reactors at China's Taishan nuclear power plant enters into commercial operation". EDF France. 2018-12-14. Retrieved 2020-01-03.
- "Taishan 1 enters commercial operation - Nuclear Engineering International". www.neimagazine.com. Retrieved 2020-01-03.
- "Awards Finalists". The SOPA Awards. Retrieved 2020-08-29.