The Forbidden Fruit – Jimmy Lai and the Apple Daily


Lai a garment merchant named his second media venture “The Apple Daily” after the “forbidden fruit” which he believed if had not been eaten by Eve there would have been no sin, no right and wrong and of course no news!

The Apple Daily was more of a tabloid style newspaper founded in the year 1995 in Hong Kong by Lai and has been known since for its sensationalism of news as well as the paparazzi influenced photographs to go with the sensations created. Entertainment and soft news being the paper’s stronghold for any years with smatterings of some political pieces here and there, the Reuters Institute survey/poll conducted in the year 2019 has tabled this daily as the second most read paper in Hong Kong and the third least trusted source of news. With the evolving of a series of social.movements in Hong Kong post 2000, the Apple Daily started covering the politics of the region in its usual flamboyant style in tabloid fashion. Paul Lee, a journalism scholar had remarked that this paper had changed the newspaper ecosystem in Hong Kong by transforming the broadsheet newspapers into the tabloid format where mainstream reporting merged fluidly with tabloid journalism. Many newspapers followed suit thereafter adopting this style and concept.

An unapologetic supporter of the pro democracy movement in Hong Kong, Jimmy Lai is a typical rags to riches story. The rise of a media tycoon from humble beginnings from the chinese mainland, Lai struggled his way up to creating a clothing brand “Giordano” before getting into the soup swirl of media and politics. He founded his first publication and started to write hard hitting columns criticizing the Chinese leaders and their government. He has been a target for the Chinese politicos over the years and has continued to fight for freedom using the Apple Daily as a weapon. In early June 2020 as the Apple Daily set forth to celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Chinese Government brought in a new security law into Hong Kong, Lai was arrested under this law on 10th August 2020 along with hundreds of pro democracy supporters.

Post the arrest of Jimmy Lai the owner of Apple Daily, Ryan Law, chief editor of Apple Daily, told Reuters the paper would not be intimidated and it was “Business as usual.” The next days front page headline “Apple Daily must fight on” carried a picture of the handcuffed Lai and Hong Kongers were seen to form never ending queues that morning to pick up their copy of the paper, it has been reported that the newspaper ran a 5,50000 copies in comparision to its daily circulation of 70,000! The online edition subscription also saw a jump of 20000! And it was not only news copies, it was also the money, post arrest of Lai the stock holding of the parent company of the Apple Daily rose four folds within 24 hours.

40 hours under arrest, Lai walked out after he was granted bail and the spirit seems solid, “We will fight on, the media business is getting harder and harder. Let’s climb the mountain.”said the media tycoon.”