YP junior reporters interview SCMP's CEO Gary Liu about fake news, taking risks, and moving half-way around the world

By junior reporters Kyle Leung and Felix Yeung

As junior reporters keen to learn more about the word of media, who better for them to speak to than SCMP’s very own CEO, Gary Liu?

By junior reporters Kyle Leung and Felix Yeung |

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(L-r) Young Post’s sub editor Jamie Lam, junior reporters Kyle Leung and Felix Yeung, SCMP CEO Gary Liu, and YP reporter Edmund Ho.

As we step into the workplace of Gary Liu, Chief Executive Officer of the South China Morning Post, we’re greeted by a sight which doesn’t quite match the typical image of a modern CEO.

Lined with cream wallpaper, the simple office is spruced up with no more than a sofa, a desk, and some chairs. And in the centre of the room sits not a man in a sleek, costly suit, but one in plain jeans, shirt, and a bomber jacket.

Still, it’s clear that this is no ordinary man; he has an air of intellect that is both inviting and a little daunting.

At the age of just 33, Liu has already made his mark as a titan of the technology industry, having led corporations such as Spotify Labs and Digg before taking on his current role.

Recently, we had the unique opportunity to meet and interview Liu as Young Post Junior Reporters.

As a child, Liu never dreamt of being a corporate executive. Instead, he was fixated on innovation and creation, wanting to change the world in some way.

It wasn’t until Liu attended Harvard University in the United States that he began to form new ideas and goals. The school had a big impact on the way he saw things.

“It taught me how to learn. The way that I learn new things is because of the four years spent at Harvard,” Liu remarks.

After several years of work, Liu made a life-changing decision, moving his family from New York City to Hong Kong to begin a new venture as CEO of the SCMP.

Explaining why he made the move, he says: “I believe the world needs to understand China better. I believe that SCMP is the media company to be able to do that. I think it is so important that I was willing to move my family from NYC to Hong Kong.”

Liu has complete faith in the future of SCMP, which is set to transform from a print-based newspaper to a digital media.

“Even though the news industry is an old one, the reality is we as a company and all the executives who I get to work with every single day, thankfully, are all totally on-board and ready for transformation,” he says confidently.

Aside from that, Liu recognises the important role the media industry plays in the current era, and wants that to continue in the future.

As technology continues to advance, and there is a growing need for us to know what’s happening around the world, more and more people are consuming media content every year.

However, with this growth, there is also a growing number of problems in the industry, from fake news to a distrust of news outlets.

But Liu believes in the integrity of journalism and works hard to uphold it. He hires well-trained journalists from different cultural backgrounds to ensure fair-mindedness and a diverse range of ideas and opinions within the company.

“It is important for media to uncover the truth and inform the world,” Liu says.

Liu also offers some insights into his personal life. As a teenager, he says, he was athletic but anxious, and always trying to impress others.

“My advice to 16-year-old Gary [would] be: when somebody asks you a question and you don’t know it, be humble and say ‘I don’t know’. But make it a point to only say ‘I don’t know’ to a question once in your life ... Just be yourself. Don’t be a version of what somebody wants you to look like, sound like and act like.”

And as for his advice for Young Post readers, Liu says: “Here’s the advice: don’t be worried if you feel that moment of [being] lost. Don’t be worried that you don’t know how life is going to look, because it gives you an opportunity to explore.”

Through the interview, we – as budding reporters in a confusing and chaotic world – have learned a lot from someone who is brimming with intelligence, yet also willing to admit to his own weaknesses and keep learning.

We have heard first-hand about the experiences of a man who represents not only success, but making a positive difference.

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge