by Hans Ebert

The end was inevitable, but still, the decision by pro democracy newspaper Apple Daily to fast forward and stop publishing earlier this week was a surprise to many.

Supporters and those wanting memorabilia of the city’s most outspoken publication, especially against the rich and the powerful and today’s befuddled Hong Kong government, started queuing up from 4am for the last “rollout”.

Part of Next Media and with its maverick founder Jimmy Lai jailed under the new National Security Law, since its launch in 1995, Apple Daily always courted controversy and frequently flew close to the sun.

It’s closure is seen as another nail in the coffin of there being a free press in Hong Kong.

Knowing some of the writers and reporters, they had their exclusive “Deep Throats” in various “information centres”, and what sold were their stories behind the stories.

They didn’t always get their information right, but where there was smoke, there was fire. There was also much said between the lines and what Apple Daily wrote was certainly read and taken very seriously by the local population.

There’s talk about separate bilingual “indie” versions being launched about the entertainment industry, business and, of course, racing.

Could it happen? Depends.