Vietnamese Journalism Bracing for Strong Transformation

10:18:57 AM | 6/20/2022

In the renovation and integration era, under the leadership of the Party, the Vietnamese press has made important achievements and significantly developed staff, technique, technology and professional qualifications.

Active and timely communications

According to Mr. Tran Thanh Lam, Deputy Director of the Central Propaganda and Education Bureau, by 2021, Vietnam had 816 news agencies, including 114 print and electronic newspapers, 116 print and electronic magazines, 557 print newspapers and magazines, 29 electronic newspapers and magazines; and 72 television and radio broadcasting agencies, including two national broadcasters (Vietnam Television and Voice of Vietnam), VTC Digital Television, and 64 local television and radio broadcasting stations, and five television stations without their own television broadcasting infrastructure (Nhan Dan Television, News Television, QPVN Television, ANTV Television and National Assembly Television).

He added, mainstream newspapers’ coverage of important events of the nation is active, timely and effective, clearly showing the leading role, unifying public awareness and creating social consensus.

Basically, news agencies seriously follow the leadership, direction and orientation of information by the Party and the government, stick to the goal of maintaining political stability, creating social consensus and public trust in the Party and the regime; provide timely, truthful and complete information on political, economic and social life at home and abroad, and become a reliable forum for the people. Information and propagation on the protection of the Party's ideological foundation and refutation of false views of hostile forces continue to be enhanced with various forms and rich contents of the information.

Information and communication on the development of Vietnamese culture and people to meet the country's sustainable development requirements are focused on and appreciated.

Foreign news agencies focus on highlighting the country's comprehensive achievements, including foreign affairs; analyzing and accentuating results on external channels of Party and State diplomacy, people-to-people diplomacy, defense-security diplomacy, cultural diplomacy and vaccine diplomacy on both bilateral and multilateral diplomacy fronts. These outcomes amid the challenging and serious COVID-19 pandemic outbreak are very important to national development in the next period, thus affirming our right foreign policy of independence and self-reliance for peace, friendship, cooperation and development, multilateralization, diversification, comprehensive, extensive and effective international integration; and proving the constantly improving capacity, position and international prestige of Vietnam.

In particular, the press has substantially played an important role and always stood side by side with entrepreneurs. Every issue has at least several articles, bulletins and photos, directly and indirectly related to the business community and entrepreneurs in all aspects. Timely and responsible articles make companies known and trusted by customers and partners. In addition, market information and changes in policies, environment and business experiences reflected in the press are helpful for enterprises to capture up-to-date, complete and more accurate information, thus enabling them to shape and adjust their strategies, policies and business methods more appropriately, more sensitively to meet market needs and prospects. The "symbiotic" relationship between the business and the press is also reflected in the fact that, through media, the former can honestly and quickly show up their aspirations to policymaking or competent authorities in a bid to affect social consumer tastes and then significantly improve their business performance. On the other hand, many enterprises and entrepreneurs are practically and cooperatively helping the press overcome difficulties in the way and fulfill its tasks well for the country and the people. 

Challenges and pressures of transformation

However, in the past year, the financial health of the press was challenged due to the heavy COVID-19 pandemic impacts as well as the dominance and competition of cross-border advertising platforms and networks. The number of issue copies and advertising deals of many news agencies declined. Many had to reduce pages, copies and publication periods. As for graphic media, revenue dropped sharply in many agencies. Some even witnessed a 70% reduction in revenue from advertising, sponsorship, and media cooperation.

In addition, competition for information among different types of media is intensifying. More and more individuals and businesses make their own radio and television programs and provide them to broadcasting infrastructures on the internet like websites, applications, and social networks, thus forming a "mass media" trend with multi-dimensional information that it is difficult to orient.

In addition to financial difficulty and intra-industry competition, the news industry is also faced with technological lags and modern journalism methods like social media. Foreign social networks have made great progress in scientific and technological applications. Therefore, advertising revenue continues to be strongly redirected to new media platforms. Foreign cross-border platforms are adapting to the new situation but they are causing economic damage to the Vietnamese press and media when they have not properly shared their business income sourced from press information.

Given rapid socioeconomic development, law violations are becoming more sophisticated, complex and dangerous. So, there is an imperative need for the protection of journalists and reporters, especially those conducting investigative reporting.

Moreover, transforming the working model and methods in the wake of the National Press Development and Management Plan to 2025 poses a lot of challenges to news agencies, especially in organizational structure and the press economy.

Digital transformation

Mr. Tran Thanh Lam, Deputy Director of the Central Propaganda and Education Bureau, said the upcoming trend is inevitably digital transformation. Therefore, many news agencies have started to adopt digital transformation in professional operations, change working and administration methods, apply technology to content production and distribution, and implement new journalism business models to diversify revenue sources and reduce the dependence of advertising revenue on cross-border platforms. Press awareness of digital transformation is clear, illustrated by the introduction of digital transformation plans and strategies.

Many news agencies have strongly invested in the quality of articles, newspaper pages, program channels, newsletters and live programs to create valuable journalistic works, produce robust social impacts, and attract the interest and reception of public opinion. They have also increased the rate of self-production programs to gradually replace foreign programs.

Regarding their innovation and access to modern journalism technology to bring information on different communication infrastructures and platforms to enhance the highest accessibility of readers, many news agencies have applied artificial intelligence (AI) to content production to meet the diverse needs and preferences of the public. Their association and cooperation in production and program exchange are promoted by radio and television stations, both to create good and attractive programs for the audience and to generate additional advertising revenue to offset the lost ones and reduce financial burdens on the State Budget. 

By Huong Giang, Vietnam Business Forum