Amid all the fuss last week over Article 23, the best story about the benefits of freedom of speech appeared in our business section: despite the worst print advertising market for many years, Jimmy Lai Chee-ying's Next Media reported a net profit of $367.55 million. Jimmy, you da man! The man is truly remarkable, you have to admit. As anyone south of the Shenzhen border unrelated to the family that owns the Oriental Daily Group will agree, Apple Daily and Next magazine are vivid proof that free speech and free markets go hand in hand. Without the former, there wouldn't be a vibrant, job-creating, growth-generating media industry in Hong Kong. Without the latter, there wouldn't be anyone financially capable of heeding Premier Wen Jiabao's call to monitor the government on behalf of the people. Say what you like about the evils of sensational, mass-market journalism, but Lai gives Hong Kong strength. He not only creates jobs for people like me who would otherwise be failed entrepreneurs (admit it, fellow brethren, if we knew how to make serious money we wouldn't be writing columns like this), he also provides more inspiration for people in daily life than a thousand members of the pro-democracy camp of politicians. Of course, this is not to say that other newspaper proprietors, such as my benevolent and exceedingly patient employers, are not doing the same thing. It's just that Lai does it so much better. Without his entry into the market a decade ago, Hong Kong's media industry would now be a pale shadow of what it is. Never mind the pink or yellow headlines. Seriously, imagine Hong Kong without the Apple Daily and Next. But then, you don't have to. Just take a trip to Taiwan to see what it could have turned out like. You had best be fast, though, because it won't take Apple Daily much longer to remake the industry there, too. What is now dominated by three huge, bland, politically driven, unprofitable newspaper groups will soon become the mirror image of Hong Kong. I guarantee it. Don't listen to the pompous snobs who try to tell you that Taiwanese have much wider literary interests. Neither should you give any time to those who say that guanxi is more important than circulation to advertisers in Taiwan. Next is already the best-selling magazine on the island, and has been since the day it launched two years ago. Apple might not become the widest circulated newspaper, but, like in Hong Kong, it may not need to. Hong Kong's Apple made more money last year than the Oriental Daily, with a circulation a third smaller. Don't worry, there is a point to all this adulation. Because Lai is intensely focused on running his media group as a business, it's a great media group. And because it's a great media group, it's a great business. In my humble opinion, this is the best safeguard that Hong Kong's media has against the new security laws. We have to be sharp. We have to be focused on our readers. We have to make revenues grow. We have to pay 4 ?-month bonuses like Jimmy does. Okay, that last one may not be mandatory. But if anyone is worried about the impact of the proposed Article 23 legislation on free speech, they might find it more effective to argue the case for free markets. It's an argument that Party Central understands, especially as it seeks to offload dozens of unprofitable state-owned newspaper groups of its own.