Apple Daily is a Hong Kong-based tabloid-style newspaper founded in 1995 by Jimmy Lai Chee Ying and is published by its company, Next Digital. A sister publication carrying the same name is published in Taiwan, Republic of China under a joint venture between Next Media and other Taiwanese companies. Apple Daily tends to favour the pan-democracy camp in its editorials and commentaries. However, this position has resulted in backlashes - ostensibly led by the Chinese government, who opposes democracy in Hong Kong - involving advertising boycotts, online hacking attacks and torchings of their newspapers.
Apple Daily's popularity as Hong Kong's second best selling newspaper, according to AC Nielsen, is derived from its concentration on celebrity coverage, brash news style, sensationalist news reportage and its anti-government political positions.
Apple Daily was founded by Jimmy Lai Chee Ying on 20 June 1995. Founder Jimmy Lai brainstormed the name of this newspaper, stating that "if Adam and Eve didn't eat the apple, there would be no evil or wrongdoings in this world, which made news a non-existing term".
Unlike newspapers at that time, it used colour printing on all pages of the newspaper and did not allow advertisements covering the complete front page. Since then, it has attracted a large readership. Other newspapers followed suit, and a few were forced to close due to intense competition from Apple Daily. Techniques used by Apple Daily to gain readership included price warring, extensive use of written Cantonese, at a time when most Hong Kong newspapers used written vernacular Chinese, and a focus on reporting crime, celebrity news, eroticism, gambling, and drug use.
The newspaper uncovered many political scandals, including a former member of the Legislative Council not reporting conflict of interest in 2000, a former Financial Secretary Antony Leung for tax evasion on a Lexus LS 430 which saved him HK$50,000 (USD $6,400), and many others, leading to the convictions or forced resignations of those individuals.
Apple Daily often criticizes the Central Government of China and pro-China governments in Hong Kong. Just prior to 1 July 2003, the newspaper encouraged people to take to the street and protest against the government. On that day of protest, it prepared banners and newspaper front pages for the public to carry and protest. The 2003 protest drew 500,000 citizens (the third largest protest ever seen in Hong Kong) to the Hong Kong 1 July marches.
Since then, it has been viewed as the newspaper that helped carry the message of protest against the government. In particular, it was at the forefront of the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement protests in 2014, helping to rally support for the Occupy Central with Love and Peace protests and pushing back against the Chinese government's proposal for full suffrage (with all candidates vetted by the Chinese government). Editor-in-chief and largest shareholder of parent company Next Media Jimmy Lai was forced to step down in 2014 after his arrest for refusing to leave a key protest site in the central business district of Hong Kong. Ip Yut-kin, print media CEO of Next Media, succeeded him.
In March 2015, Chan Pui-man became the first female chief editor of the journal, replacing Ip Yut-kin.
The pro-democracy and anti-government editorial stance has led to it suffering advertising boycotts. In 2003, several major property developers in Hong Kong ceased advertising with the journal; in 2013, three of the territory's major banks – HSBC, Hang Seng and Standard Chartered – also stopped advertising in the paper. An executive at the paper said it was due to pressure from central government’s liaison office, but this was denied by the latter; the banks cited "commercial reasons".
As well as advertising boycotts, the editorial stance of Apple Daily has resulted in it suffering hacking attacks on an "almost weekly basis". Increasingly sophisticated techniques (including placing infected files on Dropbox to lure journalists into downloading them) have forced them to tighten their email security software as well as, among other measures, instructing lawyers to use couriers rather than email. A 2014 analysis by security software company FireEye connected denial-of-service attacks on Apple Daily with more professional cyber attacks, saying there may be a "common quartermaster" and that China's government would be the entity most interested in these "political objectives".
In September 2003, veteran columnist To Kit (陶傑) joined the newspaper, and publishes his daily column "The Golden Adventure" (黃金冒險號) and a weekly editorial called "Sunday Rest" (星期日休息) at the newspaper.
Popular food critic, travel writer and former movie producer Chua Lam writes a regular column for the newspaper.
Popular writer/doctor Au Lok Man also writes articles for the newspaper's leisure section on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.