Monday, June 19, 2017, 15:53 (GMT+7)
Building a combative and humanistic journalism

"Journalist" is a sacred, precious and respectable profession. In the last 92 years, Vietnam has been so proud to have a revolutionary and humanistic journalism, contributed by generations of virtuous, responsible and devoted journalists. For today’s journalists, it is necessary to inherit and promote the glorious tradition of the country’s revolutionary journalism.

A virtuous revolutionary journalism for the people and the Homeland

At present, Viet Nam has more than 18,000 journalists who received the press cards, working in nearly 900 press agencies, including: printed newspapers, online newspapers, and broadcasting agencies, etc. With numerous volume of information in Vietnamese and foreign languages, their articles and news have become lethal weapons of the Party on the ideological and cultural fronts in the revolutionary cause. Journalists have been pionneering in disseminating the renewal policy, initiated and led by our Party; supporting the Patriotic emulation movement and multiplying typical examples; reflecting the reality of the cause of Homeland construction and protection; and identifying and proposing ideas for the Party and State to timely adjust, supplement and develop guidelines and policies. They have also been the force that criticized the derailing views and sabotage of hostile forces, making contribution to the consolidation of people’s beliefs in the Party and the regime.

The Vietnamese press has increasingly affirmed its role as a forum of the people, a means of active social criticism; effectively participated in the fight against corruption, waste, bureaucracy, and social evils. A number of journalists and press agencies have shown their courageousness in the struggle to defend the truth despite difficulties and challenges. They have been proactive in studying and renewing the contents and forms of articles, and improving their professional skills. Many press agencies have developed towards multimedia, gradually adapted themselves to the socialist-oriented market economy; actively integrated internationally, while steadily maintain their revolutionary identities and the culture tradition of the nation.

A conference on journalism law (photo: nhandan.com.vn)

Alarming manifestations

Nevertheless, there remain limitations and shortcomings in our journalism. A small number of journalists have shown their limitations in political sensitivity, unsuccessfully conducted their ideological and cultural functions, and failed to fulfill the mandate and objectives of their press agencies. The exploitation of information from foreign resources and social networks is somewhat random; the discovery and encouragement of typical examples and the patriotic emulation movement are to some extent limited. A small portion of press agencies and journalists are slow to innovate and to master new techs, etc. Facing challenges, there have been journalists who violated professional ethics. Their common phenomena include: the lack of responsibility in revising information leading to the dissemination of wrong, distorted information and inhumanity or anti-education information, etc. There are press agencies which focus primarily on attracting more readers at any costs, so they choose to set attracted headlines, exploit private information, and describe cases in thrilling ways, deliver information on mysterious manner, stirring up social anxiety, affecting social order and safety and public health, etc. Their actions have undermined the image of journalists, the trust of people on the press; seriously impacted in the beauty of the Vietnamese culture and languages, and violated the authentic manner of press.

The core values of journalism ethics is honesty. When journalists are not trained and cultivated in a standard occupational environment, their analyzing skills and issue discovering capability will be limited, leading to poor judgments and mistakes, even serious mistakes. A matter of concern is that a number of bloggers and writers violating professional ethics and law  are not members of the Vietnam Journalists Association, so when they violate the law, the only thing that their press agencies does is to terminate their labor contracts, so that they are out of responsibility. The causes for these matters include: a small number of press agencies have paid little attention to the task of managing, politically and ideologically educating, and professionally training for journalists. There have also been journalists who showed low quality of virtues, ethics, and professional capability, etc.

For a humanistic journalism.

A positive, healthy, and humanistic journalism generates powers to protect cultural quintessence, supreme and practical interests of the country and its people. The law is compulsory, while profession ethical regulations are prestige, morale and spirit binded. . Ethics and the law are indispensable. Respecting their press ethics regulations is one way to build the social ethics. Up to date, the press occupational ethics regulations, approved by Vietnam Journalists Association (VIII tenure), in 2005, have shown limitations, requiring adjustments and supplementations. Therefore, on December 15, 2016, the 5th Conference of the Executive Board of the Vietnam Journalists Association (the X tenure) passed and the President of the Vietnam Journalists Association signed the Decision promulgating the Regulations on Professional Ethics of Vietnamese journalists (10 articles), functioned on January 1, 2017. It includes new points, such as the loyalty to the cause of building and defending the socialist Homeland of Vietnam, under the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam; for the benefit of the country, for the happiness of the people; contributing to enhance the prestige and position of Vietnam in the international arena (Article 1)

To strictly adhere to the Constitution, the Press Law, the Copyright Law and the provisions of law; to comply with the principles and purposes; rules and regulations of the press agencies (Article 2). To conduct their professional skills in honest, objective, and fair manner; Protecting the justice and the righteousness. Not to distort, misrepresent information, hide the truth, ignite division, incite the society, and undermine the great national unity bloc and solidarity and friendship among nations and peoples (Article 3). To uphold human spirit, respect human rights, not to interfere the privacy, impact on the honor, dignity, and legitimate interests of organizations and individuals (Article 4); Be mature and responsible when joining social networking and other media (Article 5).

Immediately after the promulgation, the Regulations on Professional Ethics of Vietnamese Journalists has spread rapidly and praised by the press agencies and public opinion. Recently, during its membership cards replacement, the Vietnam Journalists Association reviewed, screened and removed unqualified personnel; expelled members violating the law and the professional ethics. The Party Committee and the Standing Committee of the Vietnam Journalists Association issued the Action Program for implementation of the 4th Party Central Resolution (7th tenure) on the Party’s building and rectification, in combination with the implementation of the Directive 05-CT/TW of the Politburo (12th tenure) on "Enhancing the studying and following Ho Chi Minh’s ideology, ethics and style", the 2016 Press Law, and the 10 articles of the Regulations on professional ethics of Vietnamese journalists.

To adhere to the law and regulations, press should both improve its combativeness and uphold the spirit of humanism, for the people and by the people. It is the typical feature of Vietnam revolutionary journalism. In the modern world, there is a huge amount of information. Human being do not need private success at all costs, even by doing things that undermine the common benefits, but we look forward to people that can soothe the pain and heal the wounds, etc. The press is facing challenges. There are things that are in accordance with the law but against the professional ethics. Knowledge and information should be in the brain, and ethics should be in the mind and heart of journalists, so that they can have articles that benefit people and encourage good deeds.  Keeping dignity, career self-esteem is a requirement that journalists should uphold as their supreme principle. In the "storm" of the digital age, the press can make differences by choosing a different direction that is unique and scientific.

To improve the quality and skill of journalists – an urgent task

President Ho Chi Minh used to affirm that, "mentioning the press, we should first think of the journalists"; "Politics must be the key. Only with correct political ideology, does the cadre do other things in good manner. So journalists should have correct political ideology”; “journalists are also revolutionary soldiers. The pen and paper are their lethal weapons". He advised journalists: "In order to make progress and to have good articles, the journalists should try their best to study and to train themselves”. Imbued with the thought of Ho Chi Minh, the Party and State always attach importance to the improvement of the quality and capability of the Vietnamese journalists, considering it a decisive requirement to the role and effectiveness of the revolutionary journalism.  The fact shows that, the qualities of journalists are political ideology and professional ethics, covering the following elements: patriotic, being close to the people; being loyal to the communism thought, striving for the cause of the Party and the nation, and for the benefit of the nation and its people; honesty, justice, love for their job and devoting for their job. The journalists' capability is their professional capabability, including their occupational will, operational skills, and journalistic practice to fulfill their roles and missions. These two things have a dialectical relationship. The improvement of the qualities and capability of Vietnamese journalists is the close process of two components that shape ethics and skills of journalists. Today, the development of information and communication technologies is both an opportunity and a huge challenge to the society and the press. The number of internet users in Vietnam has reached 59 million, accounting for more than 50% of the population; The number of social network users (Facebook alone) is more than 39 million, a high level in Southeast Asia and Asia. Thus, on the aspect of professional ethics, journalists are increasingly facing with the pressure and competition from social networks, which results in the pursuit of trivial tastes with the style of setting thrilling headlines, taking less consideration on the honesty, correction, and social responsibility of press and journalists. In terms of professional capability and occupational skills, journalists must meet the increasing demands of a revolutionary, professional and modern journalism. Therefore, the management and leadership of journalism require better skills to keep up and adapt to the development of press and journalists.

In order to improve the quality and capability of Vietnamese journalists in the new situation, the Party committees at all levels, press agencies and journalists' organizations should successfully implement the following fundamental works:

Firstly, fully grasp and deepen the principle of: absolute leadership of the Party over press activities. This is a guiding and vital principle for journalistic activities. It clearly identifies the Party's direction of: development should be attached to the management, and the management should keep up with the development, so as to improve the quality and effectiveness of the press to the society.

Secondly, strengthening the coordination mechanism among the Central Commission for Propaganda and Training, and the Ministry of Information and Communications, and the Vietnam Journalists' Association in directing and managing press activities and journalists; Clearly defining the political responsibilities of the press and journalists, effectively contributing to the formation of sound public opinion, the improvement of political will, knowledge and value of the Vietnamese, supporting and creating the whole nation's strength in the new era. Press information must be highly topical, healthy, practical, combative, humanistic with ideological orientation.

Thirdly, journalists and press agencies should be real bridges connecting the people with the Party and State, creating a broad social forum to promote democracy and cultural values imbued with national identities, to raise people’s intellectual level, to support and encourage people and organizations participating in implementing the revolutionary tasks. The press should rely on the people, create favorable condition for the people to supervise and evaluate the efficiency of press, and be a tool for the people to practice their right to get information and their freedom of speech in accordance with the law.

Fourthly, attention should be paid to improving the quality of training, especially ethics and morality; strengthening exchanges and international cooperation, selectively applying experience of other countries; closely combining different stages of: training, improving, and using journalists in a close and continuous system.

Fifthly, the press agencies should develop in the direction of multimedia, timely updating new information, applying advanced technology in stages of press activities; continuously innovating to improve the quality and efficiency of various types and products of the press, strengthening the competitiveness and building up a strong press and communication force to effectively cope with incorrect and dangerous information that would be dangerous to the interest of the people and the country.

Sixthly, the press agencies should coordinate with the levels of Vietnam  Journalists Association in intensifying the management of journalists; upholding the responsibility of the leaders, adhering to the principles and purposes of the newspaper. Attention should be paid to training both the quality and competence of journalists during their working process.

Seventhly, improving the efficiency of studying and following Ho Chi Minh’s ideology, ethics, and style, coupled with the strict implementation of the 2016 Press Law and the 10 articles of the Regulations on professional ethics of journalists in Vietnam. Closely coordinating with the functional departments to strengthen inspection and supervision; to timely reward good examples, typical examples, and prevent and strictly handle violations. With its functions and duties, the Vietnam Journalists Association always pays attention to protecting the legitimate rights and interests of its members, especially the right to practice their skill in accordance with the law, considering it an important and urgent task. In case journalists are obstructed, threatened or attacked while conducting their function, the Standing Board of the Vietnam Journalists Association will promptly asks functional agencies to inspect and strictly handle any wrongdoings. Each journalist, each press agency has its own way to serve, to survive, and to overcome the challenges in the digital age. However, the basic principles and the universal values, particularly the professional ethics and the law must always be seriously practiced.

A journalism which is highly combative and humanistic is built on law and ethics. In the time of changes, pressures, and digital information, these characters should be ever highlighted. It is time for the journalism to both serve the cause of national development and maintain peace in the society, peace in each family, and peace in the people’s hearts and minds.

Ho Quang Loi

Permanent Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Journalists’ Association

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Building a combative and humanistic journalism
At present, Viet Nam has more than 18,000 journalists who received the press cards, working in nearly 900 press agencies, including: printed newspapers, online newspapers, and broadcasting agencies, etc. With numerous volume of information in Vietnamese and foreign languages, their articles and news have become lethal weapons of the Party on the ideological and cultural fronts in the revolutionary cause.
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