Writing up a storm for VIR’s readers

September 26, 2020 | 09:00
Recent months have offered up challenging circumstances for all, but the news never stops. With that, the team at Vietnam Investment Review has been working harder than ever to produce top content for readers old and new, to ensure that the bridge for reporters, readers, and businesses remains rock-solid.
writing up a storm for virs readers
VIR’s publications have reached the global cream of business by appearing at many international events

Despite the vast differences in nations worldwide when it comes to media structures, VIR does its utmost to adhere to standards set in some of the world’s greatest journalistic hotspots – a goal even more impressive considering the differing resources and the language barrier.

VIR is available in print form every Monday, in English, thanks to the hard work of Vietnamese reporters backed up by a small team of subeditors who check, correct, cut, and squeeze the copy onto the page before getting to work on the headlines, subheadings, quotations, and image captions.

Working on each story with a different combination of reporters to ensure accuracy and quality is no easy task, but it is one always achieved when the top priorities are kept in mind at all times.

These priorities are headlined by the reader at the top of the list. Subeditors are the first readers and when a news story raises questions in our minds, we try to answer them. If we are unsure about the facts of a story – who, what, where, when, why, and how – we seek clarity to ensure anyone who reads the final version never encounters any gaping holes.

Subeditors play a crucial role in ensuring the accuracy of the information in stories too. As well as checking, corroborating, and verifying in an attempt to avoid publishing inaccurate, misleading, or distorted information, we try to make more space for actual information that the reader wants to digest.

Consistency, clarity, and readability are the keywords when it comes to grammar and house style. This may include rewriting clunky sentences, removing extraneous words and overused clichés, converting currencies and figures of distances, and amending the general level of detail to fit the probable understanding of the reader.

Sometimes, there simply is not enough space for all the words reporters construct. They take great care in creating interesting stories, but the subs may often have to work with a heavily-edited version while maintaining the original idea’s angle, accuracy, and content.

Even though the stories change each week, the general tasks never do, even during a global health crisis and while working through pandemic lockdown restrictions and social distancing regulations.

This year has been a complex one for many reasons, but in general VIR has remained on the front foot and has successfully delivered content as promised every week in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic’s first Vietnamese peak in March and April posed serious questions for many companies, but VIR was able to almost seamlessly adapt to a work-from-home model and still get the job done each and every week.

Due to April’s social distancing restrictions, writing and subediting became harder to carry out, but it also opened up options to streamline working methods. Instead of being hands-on in the VIR office, double-checking figures with reporters or clarifying quotes from businesspeople, it was nearly all carried out via email. This can create potential for misunderstandings or even missed email responses but reporters, editors, and management quickly created an online system to make sure mishaps were kept at a bare minimum.

In terms of the actual job of helping to ensure our stories are accessible and varied, the major issue this year is that the pandemic has affected every single area of our lives. For VIR, from property and tourism to agriculture and the stock market, it is exceedingly difficult to not mention the pandemic. And mention it we should. But a rut sets in, and all stories start to sound the same. Making sure this does not occur is hard work, especially for people not writing in their native language.

However, across the board, colleagues have risen to the occasion and worked harder this year than ever to ensure a quality publication reaches our readers. That is always the main aim – to become that bridge and keep it steady all in the name of providing information for anyone interested in visiting, living, working, and putting money into this beautiful and vibrant country.

We know there is more to do, and we know we can do better. The reporters want to glean more interesting information from interviews; the subeditors yearn for brighter and more varied copy; and the design team and management desire more impactful front pages, infographics, and headlines. Readers also want us to succeed, and with their help we can. It is not always easy to see what is around the corner and 2020 has provided perfect evidence of that. But with a strong mindset and determined focus, we are looking to make VIR’s 30th anniversary next year the most special one yet.

Elevating journalistic standards for all

Dr. Nguyen Tri Hieu - Chairman, Advisory Council, United Capital Management

writing up a storm for virs readers

As an English-language newspaper, Vietnam Investment Review focuses on foreign investors and business people as its readership. The newspaper’s financial and investment analyses and commentary reflect a scientific approach and hands-on economic experience, and are well known throughout the country.

Articles on topics like culture and tourism lighten up the sometimes heavy economic news while, at the same, promote the beauty of our Vietnam.

Overall, the newspaper keeps its objectivity, though sometimes I wish it would go more into the nuts and bolts of economic issues, such as bad debts and the negative aspects of the banking industry. While VIR does mention these issues regularly, I wish there would be more in-depth analyses on such problems.

From the perspective of a foreigner who lives and works in Vietnam, the information delivered by VIR is often appropriate as domestic media has certain limitations. However, more objective in-depth information and analyses of the current economic situation would always be welcome.

Nevertheless, VIR is more recently focusing a bit more on the right issues, publishing more in-depth analyses and criticism on investment, commerce, and finance. But I would like to see even more articles on this, especially when it comes to foreign direct investment. Foreign investors pay much attention to risks to assess investment opportunities. So, in order for them to make the right decisions and remain in control, they need to be able to grasp the current situation and risks.

That is where I see VIR’s role and responsibility; to help investors clearly see the overall picture, as well as understand specialised fields like energy, real estate, and tourism.

To do so, VIR needs to have more critical voices, for instance from reputable domestic and overseas analysts, as it is these opinions that investors will value, especially if they come from more developed countries.

Always moving in the right direction

Dr. Tran Ba Dung - Head of Professional Affairs, Vietnam Journalists Association

writing up a storm for virs readers

As Vietnam Investment Review is about to turn 30, I would like to give some suggestions for the newspaper to continue bolstering its position and prestige after nearly three decades of development.

I am very happy to see that VIR has taken the right steps to adapt to the development trends of modern media in Vietnam. For instance, I find that the presentation of information in clear and concise graphics helps the reader to understand complex matters not only easier but also deeper, especially when it comes to economic facts.

Thus, I hope that VIR will continue to use the advantages of images, graphs, and other illustrations to support its articles and further establish a converged newsroom.

Another key aspect for the newspaper is to identify and connect with the correct target readership – investors, businesses, entrepreneurs, and managers. This connection and the right articles aimed for this target group will help VIR to maintain and further develop its own identity.

When investors and businesses find the information and news they want, have waited for, and that helps them solve some of their questions and problems, then VIR has been successful.

Lastly, besides the investment in human resources, facilities, and technology, there is one factor for success that does not get mentioned often – an abundance of mutually-shared energy. If each employee runs in their own direction, it becomes difficult to succeed.

Therefore, there must be a dynamic and responsible working environment that stimulates dedication so that each person feels ready to innovate, restructure, and overcome challenges – no matter how much work or pressure there is.

With such a team, VIR will surely overcome any hurdles and continue to advance.

By Raymond Alexander

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