02 February 2009

Confessions of a News Junkie - Part 2 癮君子的自白-下卷

Lifestyle magazines often feature a section where celebrities make a list of the ten things they can’t live without. Brad Pitt goes everywhere with his Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses and Sofia Coppola her Louis Vuitton luggage. I yawn with indifference every time I come across such silliness, but only seconds later find myself mentally going down my own list: my 24-inch iMac, my Octopus card, extra virgin olive oil… And of course, the daily delivery of The International Herald Tribune.

The IHT, the global edition of The New York Times, is hands down my favorite news source. Averaging only 18 pages, the newspaper can be read cover-to-cover in a single sitting. From politics and business to travels and arts and entertainment, “all the news that’s fit to print” is packed into a single fold. The paper’s editorials, written with old-fashioned gumption, always pack a punch. Daily crossword puzzles edited by word wizard Will Shortz get progressively difficult as the week matures and provide a workout for the brain that at once entertains and humbles. Award-winning columnists like Alice Rawsthorn and Roger Cohen and sections with such enticing titles as “International Life” delight as much as they inspire. Whether it is an article about the Singapore government’s attempt to boost its citizens’ sex drive or a vignette on China’s emerging middle class buying their first motor cars, the writing is superb and the research thorough.

On the other end of the spectrum are the local news media in Hong Kong...

Read the rest of this article in HONG KONG State of Mind, published by Blacksmith Books, available at major bookstores in in Hong Kong, on Amazon and at Blacksmith Books.


  1. "Critique of the local government has also lost its bite over the years. "
    I don't have first-hand knowledge either way, but how true is the conventional wisdom that HK papers have lost their bite post-'97? What do you base that on? Was the media truly more critical of the colonial authorities than they are of the SAR government?
    I would say it is accurate that the media sometimes treads too lightly on the SAR government nowadays, but as someone who returned "to his Vaterland three years ago," what do you base your comments on?

  2. This very much puzzles me too. I won't want to get hostile stares when reading the Bible or other controversial publications on MTR, so I determine not to "judge" with my facial expression when someone's enthusiastically savouring a copy of Face. But how about the other people? What are those same parents who urge the government for "stricter" control of indecent articles thinking when they see public displays of those magazines, or even allow those magazines into their homes, doctors' clinics and salons? ...

    Btw,the Next Magazine and Apple Daily in the pix seem to be Taiwan versions. Their Hong Kong counterparts are less raunchy (though not much less).

  3. Hi Carla,

    Very astute of you to point out that the clippings are in fact Taiwanese. I had some misgivings using them but I decided to see if anyone would be able to pick them out. And someone surely did!


  4. Hi Jonathan,

    Thanks for your comment.

    My brother Kelvin is one of my most reliable sources of news analysis. I also have a handful of Hong Kong Chinese friends with whom I talk local politics over drinks. I don't buy that you have to be physically living in a place to have an informed opinion on what goes on there -- otherwise I would never be able to write about China, for instance.