Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Eastern Express

Eastern Express was an English-language newspaper in Hong Kong, started by the Oriental Daily group in 1994.

It was the third English language daily in the territory . The editor at its founding was Stephen Vines and the operation included two dozen reporters, mainly veterans of the ''South China Morning Post'' , The Standard and the ''Far Eastern Economic Review''.

Stephen Vines boasted openly about the salaries paid at the Eastern Express, which at HK$25,000 a month for a news sub-editor were very much above the industry standard of the time. Staff also enjoyed a private bar and other comforts. On the territory's TVB News programme, Vines stated: "If you pay peanuts, you tend to get monkeys".

The newspaper concentrated on large, high-quality photographs, witty headlines, amusing features by accomplished journalists such as the Australian Jason Gagliardi and a controversial, even argumentative stance on public affairs in columns such as "Dystopia". In this, Liam Fitzpatrick would accuse various civic leaders of being "misguided" or "sociopathic". It put its support firmly behind pro-democracy activists such as Martin Lee and Szeto Wah and against the emergent cadre of pro-China businessmen. It also criticised anti-British gestures such as the banning of the BBC channel from Robert Kuok's Star TV . This was in stark contrast to the SCMP and Standard, which had become somewhat circumspect in their criticism of China in the runup to the end of British sovereignty on June 31, 1997.

Although the newspaper's sleek design and editorial boldness quickly made a favourable impression among expatriates and gained the second-largest newsstand sales, it was not able to gain a significant share of the market. The SCMP at this time was one of the wealthiest newspapers in the world, mostly because of its Saturday classifieds section which often ran to 300 pages. The English-speaking Chinese readership, moreover, remained loyal to the SCMP. The Eastern Express closed operations suddenly at the end of 1996.

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