A data scientist has launched a public effort to archive issues of HK Magazine before the website is deleted by its owner, the South China Morning Post. The final issue of the 25-year-old lifestyle and entertainment magazine will be published on Friday. It was axed in light of a “volatile advertising landscape” and “diminishing profitability,” according to an SCMP spokesperson. The HK Magazine website and its social media feeds will be deleted and content will be moved to the scmp.com website.

Mart van de Ven.

The co-founder of Open Data Hong Kong Mart van de Ven has collected 122 issues of the weekly giveaway, but is appealing for help to source 1,043 missing issues.

“There’s a misguided belief that information can be provided conditionally, published with a restricted ‘intent of use’ which limits what you can do with it,” he told HKFP. “But when media publishes information, it becomes part of the public record. It serves as a historic account of the city’s trends and issues, as well as its events and people – regardless of whether someone prefers if they were forgotten.”

Van de Ven, who heads up data science consultancy Droste, has appealed to fans to email missing PDF and hard copies of the publication. He is keeping track of the archive using a public spreadsheet.

Despite assurances from the Post last week, he says that there are doubts as to whether the full archive will be made available.

“[W]ithout a commitment on record to the full, immediate, indefinite and unrestricted access to the archives, there is room for doubt. And citizens are taken to task to guarantee the continuity of the public record.”

Issue 1,103.

Whilst van de Ven was able to download most recent issues of the magazine, he found that issue number 1,103 – featuring Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on the cover – was not available on Monday.

“Hong Kong has already dropped from the 18th to the 56th place on Reporters Without Borders’ press freedom index. Our independent media is under duress, so a plurality of views is something we should cherish and in this case actively preserve,” he said.

Tom Grundy

Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.