LAUREN CHEN WRITES – Hong Kong’s premier English language newspaper, the South China Morning Post, celebrates 110 years of captivating Hong Kong’s most affluent readers. SCMP has reported on Hong Kong, China and the rest of the world “from the rickshaws and the start of the electric tram.”
By the early 20th century, Hong Kong only had four English-language newspapers in circulation. First published in 1903 in the midst of a parochial local press, the SCMP was a breath of fresh air that quickly gained an admirable reputation.
The first issues serve as a paper trail for historians. “Generally unreliable for use as primary historical source materials – journalism really is history’s ‘first draft’ – Hong Kong’s long-defunct English-language newspapers nevertheless now provide us with an invaluable day-to-day record of the period,” especially since most other resources are now inaccessible.
During the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, from 1941 to 1945, the South China Morning Post, China Mail and other English-language outlets were forced to stop publication because they were not Japanese-sponsored. The SCMP building was requisitioned to publish less controversial Hong Kong News. It was only after the war that SCMP recovered its offices and resumed printing.
What does the future hold for SCMP? CEO Robin Hu says, “As China grows in economic prowess and political influence on the world stage, a global audience of China watchers will grow in tandem. Their appetite for insightful opinions and independent news will become increasingly insatiable. Who do they turn to for a trusted source? The South China Morning Post is in a unique position to present what’s happening in China from an insider’s perspective that a global audience can trust and rely on. It’s an opportunity that we must not and will not miss.”
In a city that only supports two English-language dailies, SCMP will continue to enlighten readers, contributing to Hong Kong’s growing press freedom.