Developing with the times in press sphere

June 21, 2022 | 10:39
Vietnam is celebrating the 97th Vietnam Journalists’ Day. Le Quoc Minh, member of the 13th Party Central Committee and chairman of the Vietnam Journalists’ Association, talked with VIR’s Hong Hanh about the rapid changes in the press in Vietnam and how press agencies can adapt.
Developing with the times in press sphere
Le Quoc Minh, member of the 13th Party Central Committee and chairman of the Vietnam Journalists’ Association

The world’s press industry is witnessing major changes amid an increasing trend of digital transformation. What do you think about the tastes of readers and audiences, and also the role of press agencies in the future?

The world’s press is always aimed at providing the best information services for readers and audiences. Thus, it is quite natural to apply high technology to all media activities.

After hundreds of years, printed newspapers are not a big favourite anymore, and other types of media such as radio and television have also received less attention from the public. Thus, the press needs to meet different tastes in society, or otherwise, it will lose its readers and audiences, meaning no income and no existence.

Over many years, the world’s press eventually discovered big trends with digital platforms. Many press agencies have applied a strategy for digital transformation, with anticipation of how users will use technologies in order to devise suitable plans. For example, the concept of the metaverse is now under discussion worldwide. Though it remains unpopular in society, a number of press agencies have implemented metaverse-based interviews on a pilot basis.

Of course, we can always achieve success when we anticipate the demands of readers and audiences. But even when we grasp new trends, it can be that such technology is not accepted. This would mean that the press agencies have to accept risk – losing investment in technology and human resources.

With your experience of more than 30 years in journalism, what does the Vietnamese press need for further development?

The Vietnamese press catches up very quickly with the trends in the world and does not lack new technology. However, it must be admitted that we have not studied a methodical roadmap for change. Many press agencies think that just having a beautiful website and a mobile version is enough.

In fact, the world’s printed press is facing more and more difficulties, but they have been very creative to attract advertising and maintain their operations by creating a good perception.

For example, when advertising perfume, foreign magazines apply it on the advertising page for users to experience. In another case, for advertising audio equipment, users can remove the flyer, fold it into a speaker, and then put the phone on it in order to create a sound effect. Meanwhile, advertising in printed newspapers in Vietnamese newspapers is still implemented in a very classic, traditional way with simple printed pages.

Similarly, global radio and television also have different ways to attract user interaction. In the digital field, advertising is increasingly lively and attractive. In order to have a source of revenue, reputable newspapers always place ads in positions that ensure respect for readers, rather than attaching elaborate and bluff code anywhere in the article, making readers uncomfortable – as many press agencies in Vietnam are currently doing.

Many press agencies take page views and likes from readers as success. Do you think this is a wise development path?

Vietnamese newspapers are rolling in the game of technology corporations, as these create algorithms to support and many benefits for users as well as press agencies. The development of social networks is similar. They create algorithms to bring ads to the right needs of social network users and help press agencies try to make content visible to the right audience.

This is very good, but at the same time, the press produces content based on emerging issues or events of interest. Thus, they insert keywords into titles, photos, and articles in the hope of being found by users.

Many Vietnamese press agencies are trendy and go with technology very quickly but fail to take it all the way. For example, many newspapers have been digitalised, but to a certain extent, they are satisfied and stop thinking about whether their CMS has been optimised and whether they can add any new features to make more special products.

In fact, many e-newspapers as well as many press agencies that have websites in Vietnam are doing printed journalism on digital platforms and not e-newspapers. Also, the content published in the print newspapers is the same as in e-newspapers, just with more photos and videos.

Almost all press agencies in Vietnam have difficulties with capital acquisition, making it hard to boost digital transformation. What should they do to keep up with global trends?

It is true that if you want to invest properly, you need a large amount of money. But that doesn’t mean that small, limited-budget news agencies can’t do it.

In other countries, there is a trend that major press agencies build a team of technical and technological experts without depending on technology partners. They are so powerful that they can sell software and services, but the number of such agencies is small.

The issue here is to use the right tools that suit you. One of the measures said to be effective with today’s small- and medium-sized press agencies is cooperating with strategic technology partners. These partners must meet the needs of the agencies so that the systems are interoperable, ensuring that changes to the interface do not affect the entire data set. Strategic technology partners will advise, support, and accompany the press agency for a long time.

By Hong Hanh

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