Hong Kong Free Press

Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) is a free, non-profit[1] news website based in Hong Kong. It was co-founded by Tom Grundy in 2015[2][3] who believed that the territory's press freedom was in decline, to provide an alternative to the dominant English-language news source, and to cover the pro-democracy movement.[4][5]

Hong Kong Free Press
Type of site
Available inEnglish
  • Tom Grundy
Launched29 June 2015; 6 years ago (2015-06-29)
Current statusActive
Tom Grundy, co-founder


Before founding Hong Kong Free Press in 2015, Grundy was a social activist and a blogger who had lived in Hong Kong since around 2005.[5] He wrote the blog Hong Wrong and ran the HK Helper's Campaign, a group advocating for rights of foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong.[4] He established HKFP in response to concerns about eroding press freedom and media self-censorship in Hong Kong.[4] HKFP also aimed to provide quick news reports with context, which Grundy said Hong Kong's largest English-language newspaper, the South China Morning Post, does not do. The owners of the SCMP have business interests in mainland China which has led to claims of biased coverage.[3][5] Reporters Without Borders placed Hong Kong at thirty-four in their World Press Freedom Index in 2010, but at seventieth in 2015.[3]

Crowdfunding for HKFP took place on Fringebacker and aimed to raise HK$150,000 (US$19,342) in a month to support two journalists. The amount was raised in two days and the goal was raised to HK$500,000.[6] The fundraising campaign concluded in June 2015 with more than $600,000 raised. HKFP recruited more journalists and contributors and established headquarters in the offices of D100 Radio in Cyberport. The full website was launched on 29 June 2015.

Beginning in late 2015, Chinese authorities blocked access to the site in mainland China.[7]

In its first year of operation, HKFP published 4,400 news articles and commentaries and had over 3.5 million unique visitors.[8]

HKFP relocated from Cyberport to a co-working space in Kennedy Town in late 2017.[9]

In a 2019 public opinion survey conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, HKFP was ranked as the third most credible online news outlet in Hong Kong with a credibility rating of 5.56 out of 10.[10]

In early 2020, HKFP suspended its coverage for a website relaunch. In the relaunch, HKFP introduced its code of ethics and fact-checking policy and recruited two reporters.[11] The national security law, which came into force in the summer of 2020, means the HKFP may be under threat from the authorities in due course. In The Guardian, Grundy wrote that he and his colleagues have made contingency plans for the newspaper to continue if they are legally threatened by the authorities or forced to leave the territory.[1]


In the long term, HKFP plans to achieve financial sustainability through "continued crowdfunding efforts, advertising and sponsorship events" and by operating with minimal overhead costs.[6] Tom Grundy, a freelance journalist, stated that the site would "start with simple local news, and investigative pieces about Hong Kong" and that "we have no political agenda. We simply aim to be credible".[6]

Kong Tsung-gan pen name

In August 2020, it was reported that the columnist Kong Tsung-gan, whose opinion pieces were published by Hong Kong Free Press, was using a pseudonym claiming "safety concerns". Kong was using a Chinese name 江松澗. Kong's work has been cited by CNN, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, AFP, The Guardian, other Western news sources and the former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten for Kong's expert views on Hong Kong and China. Following an investigation, Max Blumenthal, the editor of The Grayzone news website, claimed that Kong is a white American male named Brian Kern and said that Kern was involved in inciting anti-government protests in Hong Kong. In December 2019, HKFP threatened legal action against Hong Kong newspaper The Standard which also claimed Kong was in fact an American. HKFP declined to clarify whether they knew of Kong's identity prior to Kong's own public admission in August 2020.[12]

After the publication of these accounts, HKFP published an op-ed by Kong accusing pro-Chinese Communist Party forces of "defaming" him and admitted to having used a pen name since 2014, but declined to reveal his true identity. Kong Tsung-Gan responded:

Clearly in none of the above cases did I have any intention of pretending I was the person in question. I have never asserted that I am ethnically Chinese. This disinformation campaign is meant to discredit first of all me and secondly the Hong Kong freedom struggle... Those who’ve tried to “expose” my identity—as if a gweilo can’t be every bit as legitimate and authentic a member of the Hong Kong freedom struggle as anyone else—have refused to engage with anything I’ve written in order to rebut or argue with it.[13]

Awards and recognition

Hong Kong Free Press was nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize by multiple Norwegian members of parliament.[14][15]

2020 SOPA Awards[16]

Awards/ Nomination Category Title of Entry Result
Excellence in Explanatory Reporting (卓越解釋性報道獎) Regional Hong Kong's new methodology of protest, explained Honourable Mention
Excellence in Photography (卓越攝影獎) Regional Shots of the 2019 Hong Kong protest movements Finalist

See also

  • FactWire – a crowdfunded Hong Kong news agency
  • Stand News – a Hong Kong Chinese-language non-profit online news website
  • The Standard – a Hong Kong English-language newspaper


  1. Grundy, Tom (14 July 2020). "Hong Kong's national security laws are designed to make the media self-censor". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  2. Steinfeld, Jemimah (18 October 2020). "Chinese threats sent to UK homes". Index on Censorship. London. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  3. Van Der Horst, Linda (28 September 2015). "The new journalism outfit that is shaking up Hong Kong's establishment media". openDemocracy. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  4. "Hong Kong Free Press launches crowdfunding campaign". Time Out Hong Kong. 10 May 2015. Archived from the original on 14 July 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  5. Baiocchi, Francisco (30 June 2015). "Activist turned editor who tried to arrest Tony Blair launches crowdfunded Hong Kong news website". Press Gazette. London. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  6. Sala, Ilaria Maria (20 May 2015). "Hong Kong to get new crowdfunded independent newspaper". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  7. "Hong Kong Free Press falls foul of Great Firewall, blocked in China". Hong Kong Free Press. 6 November 2015.
  8. "A year of Hong Kong Free Press: On our first anniversary, a look back at our best coverage". Hong Kong Free Press. 29 June 2016.
  9. "Hong Kong Free Press moves to The Hive co-working space in Kennedy Town". Hong Kong Free Press. 19 October 2017.
  10. Centre for Communication and Public Opinion Survey (2019). "Tracking Research: Public Evaluation on Media Credibility - Survey Results" (PDF). The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  11. Grundy, Tom (23 January 2020). "Editorial: Pause in coverage - HKFP's month-long timeline for relaunch". Hong Kong Free Press. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  12. Wong, Natalie (15 August 2020). "Hong Kong activist, writer 'Kong Tsung-gan' confirms that's only a pen name; website says he's really Brian Kern, an American". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  13. Kong, Tsung-Gan (16 August 2020). "On being continually doxxed, defamed and harassed by Communist Party allies". Hong Kong Free Press. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  14. "Flere fredsprisforslag før fristen gikk ut". Aftenposten. Norwegian News Agency. 31 January 2021.
  15. "Hektisk nomineringsaktivitet før fredsprisfrist". Dagsavisen. 31 January 2021.
  16. "Awards Finalists". The SOPA Awards. Retrieved 30 August 2020.