Hong Kong journalists find new homes overseas as media crackdown persists

Hong Kong journalists find new homes overseas as media crackdown persists

The Association of Overseas Hong Kong Media Professionals (AOHKMP) has released a new study, supported by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which aims to examine the growing exodus of Hong Kong journalists following the severe crackdown on freedom of expression in the former British colony.

The study was conducted through more than 100 interviews with exiled journalists from Hong Kong who are now living in five major centres of the new Hong Kong diaspora, including Britain, Canada, Australia, Taiwan, and the United States.

While it is difficult to estimate the exact number of Hong Kong journalists who have fled to other countries, the research combined with anecdotal evidence suggests that the number could be in the hundreds and still growing.

The study provides the first comprehensive picture of newly established overseas Hong Kong media platforms, which are increasingly becoming a source of independent news and comment that is widely followed in the diaspora community and within Hong Kong itself.

The research identified eight newly established media platforms and 11 YouTube channels that are largely commentary-based.

The majority of exiled journalists worked as reporters in Hong Kong, followed by editors. Over one third of interviewees had over 21 years’ experience in the industry.

However, the overwhelming majority do not plan to return to Hong Kong in the near future. Although over 80% expressed no regret over their decision to leave, just one respondent expressed regret.

More than half of the respondents are not working in the media anymore. However, two-thirds of this group would like to return to media work. Meanwhile, many have found alternative employment in a wide range of occupations, including car mechanic work, floristry, and employment as a barista.

Two-thirds of respondents are not comfortable working in a non-Chinese speaking media environment, and the majority are experiencing considerable barriers to entry into local media work. One-third of respondents are working with Hong Kong-founded media outlets, often on a voluntary basis.

The study also found that many respondents have no plans to return to media work, as they are suffering from burnout and in some cases, trauma as a result of their experience in Hong Kong.

Chair of the AOHKMP, Joseph Ngan, said, “This survey paints a picture of an exiled media community facing multiple challenges combined with a motivation to maintain the tradition of a free Hong Kong media, albeit in exile.”

Report on the Hong Kong journalist diaspora community

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