Digital transformation can only improve value of journalism

June 27, 2023 | 13:00
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Digitalisation is crucial in journalism’s competitive landscape, fostering innovation and audience engagement. Associate Prof. Bui Chi Trung, vice dean at the School of Journalism and Communication, the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, discussed the transition and strategies for news organisations with VIR’s Le Luu.

How has the approach to accessing information changed over time, and what is the importance of digital transformation for the future of journalism?

Digital transformation can only improve value of journalism
Bui Chi Trung, vice dean at the School of Journalism and Communication, the University of Social Sciences and Humanities

In today’s digital era, readers, listeners, and viewers are increasingly gravitating towards digital platforms for their news consumption. This shift can be attributed to the convenience, immediacy, and accessibility offered by digital channels. News organisations have recognised this trend and are leveraging AI to guide and direct readers, ensuring a tailored and personalised news experience.

Digital transformation is a path that journalism must walk, quickly and decisively, to avoid falling behind. Despite being in the digital age, newsrooms must always remember the core values of journalism. Trustworthiness, accuracy, fairness, and balance in each article are crucial values to affirm one’s position amid a forest of chaotic information on social media platforms, which often have limitations in verification.

At present, the role of technology cannot be denied. Journalism cannot develop without technology accompanying it, especially in a rapidly changing digital-first world.

Many Vietnamese news organisations still struggle to understand what digital transformation entails. How do you perceive this?

Yes, the issue of digital transformation in journalism has been discussed frequently, but many news organisations in Vietnam are yet to truly grasp what digital transformation means and where to begin.

Bear in mind that digital transformation should not start with technology; it should start with a transformation of mindset and understanding. This shift is closely related to changing the digital culture, the working environment of news agencies, especially the thinking of news agency leaders.

The digital transformation of journalism involves a shift in culture within newsrooms, from managing infrastructure with AI systems to operating procedures from managers to editors and reporters. The future of each newspaper depends on building a more robust interactive relationship with readers.

Therefore, the press needs to proactively change their production models, cooperate with other media organisations to secure their position in the technological press landscape.

What are the challenges facing Vietnamese news organisations in this transition, and are there any common strategies?

Vietnamese news organisations face numerous hurdles, from management policies to the peculiarities of each news organisation. These cannot be overcome overnight, but require time to change established practices and management frameworks.

To facilitate such initiatives, the working environment also plays a part in encouraging human thinking. A conducive environment enhances the value of individuals and encourages readiness to adapt to changes in the work context.

Each news organisation has different approaches to digital transformation. It is essential to invest in technology that suits the newsroom, keeping it practical and flexible, without blindly following global trends. The important thing is that everyone works together to make digital transformation effective.

A reader-centred digital transformation strategy can help boost revenues and advertising. News organisations need to adjust their advertising plans based on capturing reader trends and directly collecting reader data.

Can the current pace of change in the media system keep up with the speed of modern science and technology, both domestically and globally?

That is indeed a significant issue. It is crucial to infuse this narrative into the consciousness of every individual working in media and communications.

In a news organisation, if the leader has a mindset for digital transformation and wants to implement it, the success rate is considered reaching 60 per cent. If the digital transformation mindset is disseminated to every corner and activity in the newsroom, digital transformation can be successful.

Particularly, a small newspaper with an effective digital transformation strategy, a loyal reader base, and good quality, in-depth content for readers, has a higher chance of successful digital transformation than larger newspapers without a proper strategy.

How important are cloud services in this process, and how can they be integrated into news organisation operations?

Cloud services are pivotal to journalism’s digital transformation, offering secure data storage, real-time collaboration, and analytics for improved reader engagement. However, these services should be adopted based on an organisation’s specific needs and budget.

While foreign cloud services can be expensive, domestic providers offer solutions tailored to Vietnamese users at more competitive prices. Domestic cloud services provide solutions well-aligned with local needs at more affordable rates than foreign alternatives.

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