A punchy tabloid that became the voice of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement
Apple Daily started off as a local tabloid recognised for its racy sensationalism.
It was named after the Forbidden Fruit, with founder Jimmy Lai arguing that if Adam and Eve had avoided their own Apple, there would have been no evil, but also no news.
Yet over its 26 years in print it evolved to become the vociferous voice of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.
Beginning in 1995, the newspaper was by the early 2000s offering more political stories, from a fiercely independent editorial standpoint that was often critical of mainland China.
It printed spreads calling for pro-democracy protests in 2003, ran a social media campaign in favour of the Umbrella Movement in 2014 and closely covered the anti-extradition law protests of 2019-20.
This earnt it fans, but also enemies, as its reporters were barred from covering events in Beijing and advertising boycotts threatened its finances.
Still it was the sweeping new national security law that signalled the beginning of the end for the Apple Daily. On August 10th 2020 it was raided by over 150 police, with computers, mobile phones and other documents removed.
Apple Daily responded by doubling down and accusing the Hong Kong authorities of abusing their power. But it was ultimately unable to stave off further assaults on its staff.
Its offices were raided again on the 17th of June 2021, with Editor-in-Chief Ryan Law arrested and the company’s assets frozen.
Unable to pay its reporters, Apple Daily announced it would close on the 23rd of June, and that the print paper of the following day would be its final edition.
The next morning Hongkongers queued at newsstands to say a final farewell to the newspaper that had offered independent, uncensored news through the city’s most turbulent times.
Its final edition sold out with a record one million papers purchased.