The series of five articles themed 'Newspapers join hands to clean themselves up' by VietNamNet staff writers have won the A prize at the 15th National Press Award in 2020.
The series of five articles themed 'Newspapers join hands to clean themselves up' by VietNamNet staff writers win the A prize
This is the highest prize that VietNamNet has won in its 24-year history. The series of articles were implemented during many months under the instructions of the editorial board. Many reporters, editors and collaborators in all three regions of the country joined forces to implement the project.
The award has reinforced the mission that VietNamNet sets for itself – creating a bridge between people, businesses and the State in many areas of the country's life.
The five articles that got the prize were part of a series of 20 articles on the same topic, published in VietNamNet in September 2020.
The articles put forward issues in the Vietnam's newspaper industry for discussion, including extortion by some reporters and journalists of people and businesses. They also mention issues of economics of journalism in the context of Covid-19 and the strong development of social media, and the need of press agencies going digitized.
In the series of articles, VietNamNet reflects the situation of 'IS reporters', the 'black journalism' evils, which have become a concern for people and businesses.
The situation is so serious that in some localities in the northern part of the central region, local authorities had to deliver documents to every commune so that commune authorities could recognize real reporters to avoid swindling.
The situation, as commented by Journalist Le Xuan Son, Editor in Chief of TienPhong newspapers, causes "the reputation of the entire Vietnamese press to be seriously affected".
Son went on to recall a weekly press briefing some years ago, when the leaders of the Central Propaganda Committee cited a survey as saying that journalists belonged to the most hated groups of people in the society.
This was alarming as it hurts true journalists who have “bright eyes, clear heart, sharp pen”.
Soon after the articles were published, VietNamNet received feedback from readers, businesses, organizations and agencies, who expressed their strong support to the 'cleansing of journalistic forces' movement.
A businessman who emailed VietNamNet said: "Businesses are facing big difficulties during the Covid-19 pandemic, while journalists continuously extort and clamour for money. We have been extremely frustrated. In such conditions, VietNamNet's series of articles, which appeared in time, have helped us regain our confidence and cherish hope, give us more driving force to overcome the pandemic."
Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Manh Hung commented at the awards ceremony held on October 24 that the press agencies have taken the initiative in cleaning up the press, daring to talk about problems, and the problems of their colleagues. "Only you can clean yourself up."
The encouragements by the Minister and the public have given more strength to VietNamNet on the path to implement its mission.
In the context of technology and social media boom, the press bears on its shoulders the mission of acting as a tool of disseminating information between the State and people, while it has to create financial resources to exist and develop.
Former Minister of Information and Communications Le Doan Hop thinks the press is the tool of the Party and the State, and it needs support from the State.
When he was in the post of Minister, Hop once raised the idea of setting up a publication fund with capital from the state budget, which aimed at supporting the press and publishing activities. However, the idea could not implemented.
Meanwhile, newspapers now have to compete fiercely in the advertising market, where foreign social networks get bigger pieces of the cake.
Le Quoc Vinh, President and CEO of Le Bros, cited a report from ANTS as showing that revenue of the online ad market in Vietnam was $26 million only in 2010, while the market share held by Google was very small. But things changed in 2018, when the online ad market had value of $550 million, while Facebook and Google pocketed $387 million.
Preliminary statistics showed that in 2019, the total revenue of the online ad market was $630 million, of which $450 million went to Facebook and Google.
Meanwhile, the proportion of revenue from online ads that Vietnam's press agencies received decreased to 31 percent in 2018 to 29 percent in 2019 from 81 percent in 2010.
Of course, despite great challenges, many true newspapers still have ads, readers and high-quality articles.
Because of the pandemic over the last two years, the national economy has fallen into a difficult situation. The difficulties for press agencies are even worse.
A veteran journalist said: "In current conditions, one should read print newspapers to understand the Party's policies and read social media to understand people."
All these facts have brought the biggest ever challenges to press agencies, including VietNamNet, in revenue, social confidence and role of the revolutionary press.
However, no matter how big the difficulties are, VietNamNet understands that mainstream media must provide accurate and timely information.
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