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Saturday, June 20, 2020, 22:22 (GMT+7)
Vietnamese revolutionary press’ 95-year development process together with the country

95 years ago, on June 21st, 1925, the Youth Newspaper founded by Leader Nguyen Ai Quoc made its debut, marking the birth of the Vietnamese revolutionary press. Since then, under our Party’s leadership, Vietnam’s revolutionary press has always accompanied the country’s development process, playing a core, vanguard role on the ideological - cultural front, keeping maturing comprehensively, making significant contributions to our Party and people’s revolutionary cause.

President Ho Chi Minh and journalists at the 3rd National Party Congress in September 1960 (photo: VNA)

A special vanguard “corps”

During his journey to seek a way for national salvation and make necessary preparations for founding a Communist Party to lead the country’s revolution, Nguyen Ai Quoc was encouraged by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s viewpoints on the press: “Without a political newspaper, a political movement deserving that name is inconceivable in the Europe of today,” “A newspaper is what we most of all need; without it we cannot conduct that systematic, all-round propaganda and agitation, consistent in principle,” “A newspaper is not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, it is also a collective organiser.” In late 1924, immediately after arriving in Guangzhou (China), Nguyen Ai Quoc started publishing a political newspaper and launching a training course for elite young people as the core force for the Vietnamese revolution. Since the inception of the Youth Newspaper, by the end of 1929, Vietnam had over 50 newspapers and magazines which were offices of the Vietnamese Revolutionary Youth League and the two communist organisations, namely the Communist Party of Indochina and the Communist Party of Annam. In the conference to unify Vietnam’s communist organisations and found the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) on February 3rd, 1930, under Nguyen Ai Quoc’s chairmanship, a resolution on the press was passed. Since the inception of the CPV, the press has performed a role of paramount importance to the revolution for national liberation, independence and freedom.

In the wars against the French Colonialists and the US Imperialists, under the Party’s leadership, the Vietnamese revolutionary press continued promoting its role as an important “corps,” encouraging and arousing patriotism and determination to defeat the enemies. Pieces of news, articles, photos, and radio reports from the battlefields on the People Newspaper, the People’s Army Newspaper, the Voice of Vietnam, and the Vietnam News Agency were really a great encouragement to and a call for millions of young people to join the Military and fight the enemies. Born in the wars, many press works became a “national appeal” to people across the country to join battles. In spite of numerous difficulties, hardships, and sacrifices, Vietnamese revolutionary journalists entered the wars as brave soldiers, both writing and fighting against the enemies, creating press works of vitality unifying millions of people all over the country as one for the sake of national liberation and independence.

In the period of national renewal and international integration, our country has undergone a comprehensive and profound transformation in our Party and people’s revolutionary cause for “wealthy people, strong nation, democracy, equality, and civilisation.” Under the Party’s leadership, the country has obtained significant, historic achievements. Press agencies have well performed their role as voices of the Party, the State, and politico-social and professional organisations and the people’s forums, maintained political orientation, opportunely criticised and fought against backwardness and barriers to the national renewal, combated negative practices, corruption, wastefulness, social evils, and the hostile forces’ “peaceful evolution” strategy, protected the national sacred sovereignty over seas and islands, and made contributions to consolidating the people’s faith in the Party, the State, and the socialist regime.

The press has identified, encouraged, and multiplied new typical examples and elements, created revolutionary action movements in all areas, consolidated the solidarity, friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and other countries, thereby raising our country’s status in the international community. The press has also served as a reliable forum in which the people could express their will, sentiment, and legitimate aspirations and give their opinions to the Party and the State during the process of national construction and development.

Today, we have a fairly complete press system, with a powerful contingent of 50,000 journalists, nearly 1,000 press agencies (printing newspaper, radio, television, and online newspaper), including 165 newspapers, 663 magazines, 23 independent online newspapers, 2 national radio and television stations, 64 local stations, and 5 television channels. Most of the press agencies are devoting efforts to employ new technologies for journalism.

Being born in the resistance wars for national liberation and maturing together with the country’s ups and downs, generations of Vietnamese journalists have built up glorious tradition of the Vietnamese Revolutionary Press. Vietnamese journalists are always imbued with Uncle Ho’s teachings that “journalists are also revolutionary soldiers, pens and papers are their sharp weapons,” while considering this as the most profound and sacred thing in their journalism.

Vietnamese journalists have always stood shoulder to shoulder with the entire Party, Military and people in all revolutionary periods, heightened a spirit of devotion, readily sacrificed themselves, and remained present on the country’s most important and intense fronts. According to incomplete statistics, over 400 Vietnamese journalists as soldiers passed away on the battlefields. In the period of national construction and protection, journalists’ spirit of devotion and sacrifice for the country’s revolution has continued to be promoted. Recently, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnamese journalists have always engaged in the fight against this disease. The press has been described as a special “corps” tasked with rendering the people fully aware of the epidemic, encouraging the people to follow competent offices’ direction and instructions, and boosting the morale of the forces in the fight against COVID-19. Vietnam is effectively controlling the epidemic and emerging as a bright star of the world in the struggle against COVID-19, with the significant and proud contributions made by the country’s press.

Home of “combatants”

Accompanying the revolutionary press’ 95-year process of development, the Vietnam Journalists’ Association (VJA) plays an important role in building a contingent of Vietnamese journalists and improving their political zeal and professional competence and ethics. President Ho Chi Minh ever said that “Members of the VJA must strengthen unity and help one another to enhance their political and professional knowledge as the basis for the VJA to fulfil their task and for its members to serve the people and the revolution.” Following Uncle Ho’s teachings, the VJA has performed its central role in gathering and unifying its members, protecting its members’ rights and legitimate benefits, thus deserving to be “home” of over 25,000 members and journalists across the country.

However, at present, in addition to advantages and achievements, there are several weaknesses in our journalism. A number of press agencies deviate from their operational principle and goal. They have not attached importance to disseminating, commending, or encouraging typical examples and new elements yet. They have even placed too much value on the dark side of the society and information that lack humanity or go against educational rules. A section of journalists have taken advantage of their position to profiteer and violate law or professional morality. When using social networks, several journalists have shown their irresponsibility. A number of representative press offices and correspondents have not operated according to their function and task. Some magazines and web portals have been transformed into “newspapers,” thereby clouding the information environment and negatively affecting the society. Policies and mechanisms have yet to keep pace with the development of the modern press and communication.

When the society is increasingly put under the pressures from various trends and phenomena in the age of digital information, it is urgent that the press’ combativeness and humanity and journalists’ professional ethics be heightened. This has been a long-term, basic, key task of the VJA over the time. Among 8 tasks mentioned in the 2016 Press Law, the VJA is responsible for issuing and implementing the Regulation on Journalists’ Professional Ethics. During the 10th tenure, the VJA has released 2 documents of importance, namely 10 Articles of the Regulation on Vietnamese Journalists’ Professional Ethics (2017) and the Regulation on Vietnamese Journalists’ Use of Social Networks (2019). The two documents act as a guiding star for journalists’ conscience and responsibility in the new period. Immediately afterwards, the VJA has required its affiliates to grasp and introduce the two documents to each member, thereby gaining significant achievements, gradually overcoming weaknesses in journalism. The VJA has established Councils for handling violations of the Regulation on journalists’ professional morality from Central to grass-roots levels, issued the decision on correspondents’ two-way activities, adopted the software for monitoring online articles, and enhanced the work of inspection and supervision, which has contributed to tightening discipline in journalism, considerably reducing violations and negative practices committed by journalists, and heightening journalists’ professional ethics, social responsibility, and civic duty.

It is worth noting that when its members’ journalism had been obstructed or they had been attacked, threatened, and insulted, the VJA had opportunely raised its voice and cooperated with competent offices in resolutely defending journalists’ rights and legitimate benefits, which has been highly appreciated by the people and proved its role and prestige in journalism and social life.

Great value has been attached to training and improving journalists so as to make the Vietnamese revolutionary press more professional and modern. In the new context, there have been reforms in journalistic training programmes, content, and method, with more than 500 refresher courses across the country. Those training courses have been centred on professional skills for journalistic categories, journalistic specialised topics, and journalists’ morality.  

It should be noted that the Government has assigned the VJA to organise the annual National Press Award which has created positive spillover effects on the social life. The VJA has also cooperated with Central committees, ministries, and sectors in organising tens of other specialised press awards. More importantly, on April 8th, 2020, the Party Central Secretariat (12th tenure) issued the Directive 43-CT/TW on strengthening the Party’s leadership over the VJA’s operations in the new situation. This is a Directive of utmost importance to the VJA as it continues to clearly define the VJA’s role and status as a politico-social and professional organisation of the country’s journalists. To acknowledge the VJA’s significant achievements and contributions, on the occasion of the 70th founding anniversary of the VJA, General Secretary of the Party Central Committee and State President Nguyen Phu Trong sent a letter of congratulations to Vietnamese journalists and the VJA’s affiliates across the country. The letter is a source of great encouragement from our Party and State’s Leader and the entire society to the VJA and the country’s journalistic circle.

Making the Vietnamese revolutionary press more professional, modern, combative and humane

In response to today’s convergence of information and technology, press agencies are gradually transformed into multimedia ones providing many journalistic types and communication-related services to meet the increasingly great and diverse demands of the public. In addition, the technologies-based press, the use of artificial intelligence, and the supply of cross-border information continue to be the trends of journalistic technology. The press on mobile platform is changing the public’s custom of receiving information. Online press listening, reading, and watching shift from passive to proactive approach, which leads to the trend of providing, spreading, and connecting information based on technology, profoundly affects journalism, and results in a decrease in the printing press. Meanwhile, artificial intelligence is more widely applied to the process of producing and conveying press and media products. In a flat world, the trend of providing cross-border information is developed via many new modes and technologies, via the Internet and via 4G and 5G cellular network technology.

In the boom of social networks together with the spread of fake news, the press always has to face the risk of being dominated and overwhelmed by social networks especially when it deals with sensitive, complex issues and incidents. New technologies and tools allow social networks to easily, rapidly share information and publish news without censorship, while forcing the press to step by step lose its position as a dominant information channel. The development of information and communication technology both creates opportunities for and poses serious challenges to the press. Never have we had such many journalistic categories and such a powerful pool of journalists. Hence, more than ever before, the Vietnamese revolutionary press should continue to keep pace with the new journalistic trends, surmount difficulties and shortcomings, and fulfil the mission of “the secretary of the times.” Press agencies and affiliates of the VJA should keep strictly following competent and journalistic management offices’ direction and information orientation under the motto of being proactive, timely, effective, and disciplined against the important, complex, sensitive issues. Doing so will help achieve a consensus and promote the efficiency and effectiveness in the provision of information and the orientation of public opinions. The press could not defeat social networks in spread of news, but it will overwhelm social networks by means of journalists’ orthodoxy, responsibility and professional ethics. Reliability and persuasiveness represent the way of life of the press in the era of digital communication.

In any period, press agencies must keep propagating the country’s achievements in the political, economic, cultural, social, defence-security, and diplomatic fields and the Party building and rectification as well. The press should play a core role in building a healthy information environment dominated by positive information to consolidate the faith in successfully organising the all-level party congresses towards the 13th National Party Congress. Significance should be attached to the Party building and rectification within press agencies. Due attention should be paid to well carrying out the work of political, ideological education to encourage journalists to keep improving their political zeal and morality and fulfilling their journalistic mission. Consideration should be paid to heightening the role model-setting responsibility of cadres and party members, particularly the key ones, and resolutely fighting against the degradation in political ideology, ethics and lifestyle as well as the signs of “self-evolution” and “self-transformation” from within. Press agencies should cooperate with the VJA in training and improving all journalists’ morality, political zeal, and professional competence against arising complex issues in journalism.

Over the years, under the Government’s direction, the Ministry of Information and Communications has closely cooperated with the Central Propaganda and Education Commission while the VJA has worked with leaders of localities, ministries, sectors, its affiliates, and press agencies to execute the Prime Minister’s Decision on press planning and rearrangement towards 2025 in the democratic, cautious, and scientific spirit. Up to now, basically, the press planning and rearrangement have been on schedule. Regarding the planning of press agencies under unions and organisations’ management, on March 4th, 2020 the Ministry of Information and Communications granted licence to 18 magazines under their unions’ management so that they would be more specialised. Hopefully, after being rearranged, press agencies will quickly operate more effectively and “rag newspaper” will be completely eradicated. Under the planning and rearrangement, the press is restructuring itself, promoting its revolutionary tradition, and serving the benefits of the society, the country, and the people. It is clear to see that the planning and rearrangement is necessary for the Vietnamese press to develop in the right direction, more healthily and usefully, avoid wasteful use of human and material resources, and prevent violations and negative practices. However, the rearrangement will have effects on press agencies’ structure and personnel and employment of thousands of journalists. Hence, it is vital take specific, proper steps for each press agency. To that end, it is essential to achieve a consensus among competent offices, governing offices, press agencies, and journalists themselves. Once we are fully aware of the significance and importance of the planning and rearrangement together with appropriate steps and due regard being paid to journalists’ legitimate benefits, we will be successful. In 2020, there will be many significant events of the country. The 11th Congress of the VJA for the 2020-2025 tenure will take place in late 2020 as a festive day of the journalistic circle and the VJA’s affiliates from Central to local levels. In response to the requirements set by the revolutionary task in the new period, bringing into play the Vietnamese revolutionary press’ 95-year glorious tradition, journalists all over the country will keep improving their political zeal and professional competence and ethics, consolidating a sense of unity, and join hands in making the Vietnamese revolutionary press more professional, modern, combative and humane for the interests of our country and people.

HO QUANG LOI, Permanent Deputy President of the VJA

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