A return to integrity for quality media

June 21, 2021 | 14:00
Lately, I have developed a habit of flipping through my news feed on my phone during breakfast. And of course, over the past few days, stories of the Vietnamese national squad qualifying for the World Cup and new pandemic cases were always on top. The beauty of these news feeds is that they can keep up with my frequently changing interests.
A return to integrity for quality media
Hoai Anh Do - CEO, Pioneer Marketing and Public Affairs

It’s just one example demonstrating that the threat to traditional media is real.

In the 4.0 age, speed has become decisive in delivering news and social media is winning. With social media these days, everyone and anyone with a smartphone can be a reporter. Not only that, social media offers the interaction which most media users desire – a chance to be heard.

For those so-called influencers, social media is not just a communication platform to voice their opinions on issues of interest to their audience. It allows them to interact in ways which did not exist before. Like it or not, social media allows us to view various critical economic, social, and political issues of our life from multiple perspectives, often filling the gaps left by mainstream media.

Traditional media can make up for its weaknesses in interactive ability and speed with data-driven reporting, fact-checking, rigorous analysis, and writing excellence. Furthermore, mainstream media in Vietnam can step up its role in giving critical feedback on issues of concern to the public.

Speed can be a double-edged sword since it does not always allow the content producer enough time to check the facts, verify the details, and view the issue from stakeholders’ perspectives; hence, the credibility and transparency of the content may be in doubt. This, in fact, is traditional media’s fundamental way of working and need to be reinforced in the face of the aforementioned challenges from social media.

The likes of Facebook and Google use algorithms to monitor media consumers’ preferences and tailor content to their shifting interests. Traditional media cannot keep up with this and they should not have to. Instead, they can pick their own battles and choose to embrace technology and learn to work with the likes of Facebook and Google to tailor contents to media consumers’ tastes, knowing full well they must become more open to criticism.

Throughout my 20-year career in public affairs, never have I been told that a certain publication is investing in audience research. Understanding who reads what and why it is paramount to build up the capability to develop the right editorial contents. But audience research should not be limited to reach, scope, and basic media users’ characteristics such as age, gender, and education.

Rather, audience research should be more advanced and include media users’ assessments of specific content and reporting quality. This broader understanding of audience research is not only a means for editorial managers and journalists to learn about their readers, listeners, and viewers but it can also be helpful for advertising managers to design better promotion programmes.

Old habits die hard. As someone who grew up with printed newspapers, I still pick up my favourite newspapers whenever I have the chance but lately it has become exceedingly difficult to find a newsstand on the street. I know I am not the exception. Readers like me are becoming fewer and fewer than those young people belonging to generations X and Z who are satisfied with consuming electronic and social media content only.

Friends of mine working in the publishing business say the costs of printing and distribution are the two highest costs that publications have to bear. While each publication has its own reasons for maintaining its print edition, to serve its political mandate for one, the sad reality is that print editions these days are like critically ill patients on life support. Sooner or later, a hard decision will have to be made about pulling the plug.

On the bright side, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has opened up numerous opportunities for electronic media. In addition, the pandemic has been a catalyst for electronic media to flourish since, with social distancing, people have more time to spend online and the space to do it more comfortably.

Faced with the steep decline in revenues, Vietnam’s electronic media agencies and management authorities have been touting the idea of shifting to a subscription-based model for a couple of years. While this idea has received widespread support from media stakeholders to date, the lack of investment in resources and confidence in producing quality content to attract subscribers has delayed bringing this idea to life. However, recent talks about this topic among communication practitioners have resumed after VietNamNet announced the official launch of its subscription-based edition, VietNamNet Premium.

The truth is that, from the dawn of journalism, quality reporting has never been free. So instead of worrying about driving readers away with the shift to a subscription-based model, publications should focus on getting back to the basics of quality journalism, ensuring that facts are accurate, the story includes views of relevant stakeholders, and details are rigorously analysed.

The day we wake up and do not see the same report in every major media outlet, copied and pasted over and over, is the day we know quality journalism has prevailed. The shift to a subscription-based model may be gradual but its foundation would be solid, as it would be built upon quality journalism.

Andreas Stoffers - Country director, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom

A return to integrity for quality media

The business media plays a crucial role in financial communication as information intermediaries and multipliers. They are also a link between business, politics, and academia. For the foreign business community in Vietnam, VIR is an essential press medium.

VIR is very open to suggestions from the business community. So I have already been able to present some of my ideas on various topics in the areas of trade, investment, and monetary policy in articles. What I was particularly pleased about was that I could put forward my opinion unfiltered.

I think that regular columns by the same authors that go down particularly well with readers should be included.

Vlad Savin - Head of business development, Acclime

A return to integrity for quality media

The Vietnamese business media acts as a mirror and enabler of the fantastic growth and opportunities available in the country for international investors and local businesses. Highlighting the development potential acts as a catalyst in the broad, global business community to pay attention to the Vietnam story and the reality of doing business in such a dynamic economy.

VIR creates suitable content in most of the relevant industry verticals in Vietnam, with excellent input from the business community, chambers of commerce, experts, and hands-on professionals who are proactively involved in the business environment in Vietnam.

Pierre-Jean Malgouyres - General director, Archetype Group

A return to integrity for quality media

The role of the press in Vietnam has greatly evolved to play a key role in our lives: it is now seen as a vehicle to share knowledge, entertain, educate, and help people stay up to date on the latest trends and news across many areas.

We trust reputable press agencies such as VIR to give us the big picture on local insight and international news reports. We live in a fast-paced environment and because communication technology enters a new age of digitalisation, we trust that local press and media outlets are taking advantage of all available new forms of communications, which help readers get the information they need by either scanning articles or watching videos or listening to podcasts.

KP Singh - CEO Vietnam Sports Platform

A return to integrity for quality media

The policy transparency level in Vietnam is improving day by day. The business community relies on the press to know information on the latest policy changes which can affect the business environment. The Vietnamese press is helping the business community by publishing analytical reports on policy changes and views of market experts on policies and incentives, which can help business leaders shape their business.

VIR can help the business community and policymakers in communicating constructive feedback for the benefit of the Vietnamese economy and ease of doing business in Vietnam.

Adam Sitkoff - Executive director, American Chamber of Commerce in Hanoi

A return to integrity for quality media

I believe in the power of the media to relay information and messages, and to shape policy in Vietnam. The more coverage a topic receives on the news, the more likely it is to be a concern of the general public, authorities and decision-makers, and opinion leaders.

Communication is the base of human existence and the media is the primary vehicle for getting people’s attention. Whether you are a politician, community leader, executive, teacher, worker, or just somebody turning the pages of the newspaper, we all rely on media accuracy to make informed decisions. The media has a key role in society and an important responsibility to the people.

Pamela Phua - General director, AkzoNobel Decorative Paints Vietnam

A return to integrity for quality media

We have always had VIR and other media accompanying us to attain achievements, especially to maintain our regular contact with local audiences in a time of social distancing, which is especially meaningful to secure our growth.

Media has not only helped us introduce and spread our paints and coatings solutions widely but also empowered us to raise our voice in critical issues which have significant impact on the country’s sustainable initiatives and developments such as smart cities, heritage preservation, green construction materials, and healthier and safer solutions for homes and other buildings.

Marko Walde - Chief representative, Delegate of German Industry and Commerce in Vietnam

A return to integrity for quality media

We have experienced during the pandemic how the media can play a role in containing it, spreading information in time on new regulations to readers and companies, and potentially, saving lives. Getting the whole picture of the situation and having the right contacts are the most important factors in this extraordinary time.

Especially, as international companies, we have our own responsibility for our employees, suppliers, and customers in Vietnam and moreover as a part of the worldwide supply chain. We need better information on regulations and changes to have interaction right in time. Therefore, press agencies have a crucial role.

Vu Trung Kien - General manager, Tan Nguyen - NRG Group

A return to integrity for quality media

For long-term investment in the country, the local media is active in updating changes in government policies and plans to enable smooth business operations. VIR is a useful forum for investors to voice concerns and submit proposals to the relevant government authorities.

VIR’s weekly publications cover topics of national importance such as policy and macroeconomic concerns, policy strategies, in-depth analyses of foreign direct investment activities, and news and assessments of individual companies in the economic and business sector. The newspaper and its online version are also crucial for companies and business leaders.

SHIMIZU Akira - Chief representative, JICA Vietnam Office

A return to integrity for quality media

Japan’s official development assistance operation in Vietnam for the past 29 years has contributed to the socioeconomic development of Vietnam, helping to tighten the strategic partnership between the two countries.

This success would not have been realised so beautifully without the strong cooperation of all government agencies, organisations, sectors, and the people of Vietnam, among which, communications and media organisations play an essential role.

It is always our utmost pleasure to work with all capable journalists and we would like to show our sincere appreciation for your dedicated support to us in every step of our development path.

Trang bui - Senior director, JLL Vietnam

A return to integrity for quality media

Not only in Vietnam, most large and small businesses all over the world understand that the media plays an importance role in building brand awareness in community.

JLL utilises our competencies to consult our clients to make the right decisions. The media is a reliable source for JLL to quickly share and update information to audiences thoroughly. With appropriate and comprehensive information, VIR has gradually become an important channel for both local and foreign investors. The decisionmakers can rely on these insights to facilitate their decision-making process which in turn contributes to the economic development of a country.

Son Pham - President, GE Vietnam

A return to integrity for quality media

General Electric (GE) has been associated with the country’s economic integration and development in the past 28 years. GE’s 2,000 employees are serving customers in Vietnam in power transmission, energy, aviation, and healthcare to build things that work and keep things running smoothly.

In the journey, it has been GE’s honour to be strongly supported by Vietnamese media including VIR. Especially, as people have been keeping a distance and limiting direct contact due to the pandemic, media has been one of the effective means to sustain our close connection with local partners and audiences.

GE believes that our partnership will be further strengthened the coming time.

Bui Trung Kien - CEO, Copper Mountain Energy

A return to integrity for quality media

We highly appreciate the updated news and analysis in VIR on renewable energy that provides us accurately and effectively the incentives and encouraged policies of the government and Electricity of Vietnam, as well as being a bridge to share our challenges to related agencies.

Especially, I am very impressed with the special issues and publications of VIR on climate change, sustainable development, and renewable energy that highlight the important roles of green and clean energy.

With the partnership with news agencies, entrepreneurs like Copper Mountain Energy can steadily expand operations in renewable energy projects across the country.

Pham Duy Khuong - Managing director, ASL LAW

A return to integrity for quality media

Always anticipating and analysing opportunities in the international integration period, VIR has brought many opportunities as well as providing the most necessary information for businesses and investors. The in-depth articles offer a variety of perspectives from prestigious local and international experts.

The readers are very diverse, from those who want to find out information on real estate, investment, and finance, to those who are lawyers working in these fields. From the perspective of a partner, it is advisable for VIR to expand deeper into new categories such as bidding or franchise. With many experience in these fields, we can contribute with more necessary information so that readers can access more information on issues.

Federico Vasoli - Managing partner, dMTV Global

A return to integrity for quality media

One year ago I was honoured to comment on Vietnam Journalists’ Day. At that time I stressed the importance, as a reader and as a lawyer, to rely on qualified sources that eliminate the excessive “noise” we are all exposed to.

I can only note that VIR has made a fantastic job in this sense. VIR’s coverage of broad themes – such as environmental challenges, trade tensions, foreign direct investment, and government plans – with an eye focused on pertinent international issues such as how other countries are managing the pandemic and free trade agreements, is a top-notch journalistic service rendered to both foreigners and locals alike.

By Hoai Anh Do - CEO, Pioneer Marketing and Public Affairs

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