Senior editors of online media outlet Citizen News on Monday explained they are closing down because they no longer feel safe to continue their work at an 'uncertain time' for the industry.
The outlet's chief writer, Chris Yeung, said the decision – announced on Sunday night – follows a police raid last week on another media outlet, Stand News, and sedition charges laid against two people associated with the group.
About 40 staff at Citizen News will be dismissed and its website will stop updating after Monday tonight.
"My understanding is that our colleagues have prepared for this day to come," a Citizen News video producer, who gave his surname as Chan, said.
"Many things have been shrinking, but there are still people trying their best. In the media industry, it’s not just us who are having a tough time, many journalists are still steadfastly doing their jobs. Let's keep the faith."
The media firm's chief editor, Daisy Li, said closing down is the "best" decision because she could no longer assess whether a news report or any particular comment could fall foul of the law.
Yeung also said it's unclear where the lines are, and they could not tell if articles or reports published in the past could now be problematic.
"We have not been contacted by the police or the national security officers on any matters. But the indication is clear that the overall media is facing an increasingly tough environment," he said.
"For those who are seen as critical or trouble-makers, they are more vulnerable. This is what we are facing, and that's why we made the decision in the midst of those uncertainties that we are not able to get a clear, assuring picture that we decided not to operate."
Yeung, a former chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), also said he hopes young reporters won't be deterred by the online outlet’s closure, saying there's still a role for the media to play in society, and while there’s now less room for manoeuvre, this has not yet been reduced “to zero.”
The HKJA, meanwhile, said it's regrettable and sad to see two media organisations winding up within a week.
It said it's difficult to estimate how the latest closures will affect Hong Kong's reputation as "Asia's world city," and urged the government to protect press freedom as stipulated in the Basic Law.
Last updated: 2022-01-03 HKT 14:39