Coconuts is winding down its Hong Kong news site, citing commercial and journalistic challenges. The announcement came days after a new general manager took over the publishing group.

Coconuts  hong kong
Coconuts news site. Photo: HKFP screenshot.

“[I]n recent years, we have faced increasing journalistic and commercial challenges that have made it difficult for us to continue publishing regularly in Hong Kong,” a letter to readers dated March 1 read.

“We will still occasionally publish stories from Hong Kong that are of interest and relevance to the rest of our readership in the region, and we hope one day to be able to give Hong Kong the in-depth coverage that it deserves once again,” it added.

The news site’s last article was published on January 17.

The move came days after Vim Shanmugam took the helm as general manager and chief marketing officer, after founder Byron Perry relocated to the US and became Coconuts Media chairman.

Vim Shanmugam
Coconuts GM Vim Shanmugam. File Photo: Vim Shanmugam via LinkedIn.

Coconuts launched its Hong Kong site, and office, in 2013. Though its coverage mostly involved news picked up from Chinese media, it also won awards for its original reporting.

It continues to operate news sites for Yangon, Singapore, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Bangkok and Bali.

It is unclear if the winding down of Hong Kong coverage will involve job losses. Shanmugam and Coconuts did not respond to HKFP’s enquiries.

Shrinking media landscape

The local media landscape continues to shrink amid declining press freedom under the Beijing-enacted security law. With journalists behind bars and newsrooms raided, the city has plummeted down the Reporters Without Borders international press freedom ranking, diving 68 places to 148th last year.

Explainer: The decline of Hong Kong’s press freedom under the national security law

Stand News, Citizen News, Apple Daily and Factwire are among the outlets which have disappeared since 2021.

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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.