Read all about it at Hong Kong’s news museum
- Opening of Asia’s first facility of its kind in the historic heart of the city reflects on changes in the media and looks to the future, but the industry’s values will remain
If journalism is the first rough draft of history, what about the history of journalism itself? Too often the industry is oblivious to its own changes and development while reporting history in the making. The opening of Asia’s first news museum in the historic heart of Hong Kong is therefore a good time to reflect on the past and look to the future.
Aptly located in a heritage building in the district home to Dr Sun Yat-sen and early newspapers and printing businesses, the Hong Kong News-Expo is as much a showcase of the development of the media as that of the city. Among the exhibits in the former Bridges Street market in Sheung Wan is a copy of the city’s first newspaper – Universal Circulating Herald – in 1878. Fully run by Chinese, it was historically seen as a symbol of China’s modernisation. The museum also does not shy away from controversial or politically sensitive news, featuring the 1967 riots, the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, and the Occupy movement in 2014.
With just 10,000 sq ft and a modest budget, the museum is of course no match for the Newseum in Washington, whose rich content inspired a delegation from the Journalism Education Foundation Hong Kong during a visit to the United States in 2008. But being the first in Asia to document the region’s freest media industry makes it no less significant. The project is the collective effort of the local media and different sectors, and the result of defeating 14 rivals in a government initiative to revitalise the grade three Bauhaus-style market building in 2011.
The story of the media is part of the city’s history. The media are the eyes and ears of the people, with which they make sense of the world. The establishment of the News-Expo, hopefully, can better relate the industry to the public.
The museum has overcome many hurdles, as has the industry over the years. As we consign old artefacts and archives into museum and history, let’s not forget that the challenges facing the media have never been bigger. The political, economic and social environment are changing. Also evolving is the manner in which news is collected and circulated. What remains unchanged is the need for editorial independence, underpinned by accuracy, objectivity, and fairness.