Local investigative news agency Factwire has made an urgent request for HK$3.8 million in donations to cover their operating costs in the coming year.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, the news agency said that in the face of financial difficulties, they will leave Factwire’s fate for Hong Kong people to decide. “If Factwire can raise HK$3.8m by the end of January to cover its operating expenses for a year, we promise to continue pursuing the truth in news,” it said.

ng hiu-tung
FactWire founder Ng Hiu-tung. Photo: Factwire via Facebook.

The announcement came after various local media outlets reported on Monday that Factwire faces imminent closure and will appeal to its readers for money.

Factwire said that in-depth investigative reporting requires manpower, time and resources. It added that, in the course of 21 months, the news wire has published 56 investigative reports on 20 topics.

“These reports are the result of lengthy investigations by our reporters, all with the aim of defending the public’s right to know,” Factwire said.

The news agency said it had hoped to sustain its operation via a paid subscription scheme targeted at local and overseas media. It said that its client list consists of 80 per cent local media outlets and some authoritative overseas outlets, but the subscriptions were not enough to cover its expenses. It added that, in order to maintain editorial independence, it does not rely on investors or financial backers.

Factwire added that its monthly expenses are around HK$300,000. The amount covers the wages of its ten reporters, rent, electricity and water bills, overseas investigation fees, professional evaluations, and so on. It has raised HK$7.8 million in total since its establishment.

Photo: Factwire via Facebook.

Factwire said its current funds are insufficient to cover one month of operating expenses. “Perhaps the road to seeking truth has come to an end. Looking back, our team of reporters have faced harassment from unknown forces and the threat of lawsuits; we’ve made mistakes and accumulated invaluable experience.”

According to Factwire’s subscription programme, those who give yearly or one-off donations of HK$2,555 or above will automatically become subscribers and receive breaking investigative reports via email; so far, only 139 have signed up.

The news wire was founded two years ago following a successful crowdfunding campaign that raised HK$3 million. It is the first investigative news agency in the city, and has published reports on defects in a Chinese nuclear power plant, the alleged “kidnapping” of pro-democracy figure Howard Lam, and sub-standard electricity cables.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.