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The leadership of Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee towards the press and media activities: Current situation and raised issues

(PTOJ) - Over the past years, the media and press activities of Ho Chi Minh City have made important contributions to the communication of policies and guidelines of the Party and State. Besides the results achieved, the media and press of the city also have certain limitations. It is necessary to assess the status of the leadership of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee towards the press and media, then find out the causes and issues to propose solutions for strengthening the leadership of the City Party Committee for this work in the next period.

Photo: dangcongsan.vn

Until 2019, there are 41 press agencies, including 16 newspapers, 22 magazines, 10 electronic newspapers and magazines, and 14 websites in Ho Chi Minh City. On March 18, 2019, Ho Chi Minh City was also the first locality in the country to establish a Press Center under the Department of Information and Communications (Decision No. 1049/QD-UBND dated March 18, 2019 of Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee). The Ho Chi Minh City Press Center has a big scale and modern equipment (including 5 functional subdivisions with a total area of over 1,600 square meters). This is considered the “2nd newsroom” of more than 2,000 journalists to provide prompt, accurate, timely, public, and transparent information about the city’s activities to the press agencies.

In Ho Chi Minh City, there is 1,800 staff working in journalism and communication with university and post-graduate degrees, and over 50% of staff have the intermediate degrees in political theory. The majority of people working in journalism and media in this area have sufficient capacity, professional qualifications, and skills to promptly, objectively, and correctly reflect all aspects of social life. They have reflected the legitimate thoughts and aspirations of all classes of the people, discovered and promoted new factors, advanced examples, and great achievements of the historical significance of the country and the city. They have struggled with wrong manifestations and behavior and defended justice and reason.

In recent years, Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee has always focused on leading the press and media. It has issued many documents to guide the City’s press and media activities. To implement the Politburo’s Index No. 22-CT/TW dated October 17, 1997 on “Continuing to innovate and strengthen the leadership and management of the press activities”; Resolution of the 12th National Party Congress; 2016 Press Law; Resolution of the 5th Plenum (12th Central Committee) on “the ideological work, theory and press before new requirements”, the Municipal Party Committee has actively directed and promoted the role of the press and media in each specific period, emphasizing the role of press agencies and media.

The Municipal Party Committee has oriented political ideology and outlined the development strategy of the press and media in the area. Under the leadership and direction of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee, information published in the press and media ensures authenticity and education to serve the interests of the Party and the people, contributing to the successful implementation of the construction of socialism in our country in general and Ho Chi Minh City in particular. To implement Decision No. 362/QD-TTg dated April 3, 2019 of the Prime Minister on the approval of the national press development and management planning until 2025; Plan No. 1738/KH-BTTTT dated June 4, 2019 of the Minister of Information and Communications on arranging the press agencies according to the national press development and management planning until 2025, the City Party Committee has assigned the Party Civil Affairs Committee of the People’s Committee of the city to instruct the Department of Information and Communications to lead and coordinate with departments and agencies to actively review and develop plans to submit to the Provincial People’s Committee. It has requested the City Party Committee to comment on the implementation of the press and media planning in the City under the spirit, orientation, methods, and roadmap of press planning approved by the Prime Minister. Accordingly, before December 31, 2019, the city will have a project to implement the arrangement according to the planning to have a maximum of 5 newspaper agencies (excluding newspaper agencies belonging to religious organizations). By 2025, the city will be completed the arrangement according to the planning to have only 1 newspaper agency.

To implement the Resolution of the 10th Municipal Party Congress on improving the quality of training and cultivating for cadres, civil servants, and public employees between 2016 and 2020 to meet the requirements of accelerating industrialization, modernization, and international integration, the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City has issued a plan for training and cultivating for cadres, civil servants and public employees of Ho Chi Minh City between 2016 and 2020, including a team of staff from the press and media agencies in the city.

Currently, the explosion of information technology, communication technology, internet, mobile handsets..., in the world as well as in Vietnam, has changed the way and methods of journalism and communication from the production process, program editing, transmission, interactive settings, and receiving information of the public... Transmission technology, terminals, and modern and convenient media have become the official channels for the public to receive and exchange information nowadays. Since then, we have formed types of “non-traditional” press, which are social networks such as Zalo, Facebook, Twiter, and YouTube... which coexist with a printing press, television, radio, and newspapers. Therefore, the traditional press is facing fierce competition from different types of online newspapers and personal blogs in terms of transmission speed and the ability to interact with the public. The development of modern communication technology, the change of the model and mode of operation of the press and media, and the change of human resources as well as the increasing demand of the public for the press require journalists to master a variety of skills to use different media. Journalists can operate independently from the newsroom and still promptly reflect events with good quality. The public is allowed to participate and express opinions through the press and media. Their capacity to participate in communication processes is increasingly enhanced.

To implement Resolution 35-NQ/TW of the Politburo (12th tenure) dated October 22, 2018 on “Strengthening the protection of the Party’s ideological foundation, and fighting against the enemy’s wrong views in a new situation”, the Party Committee of Ho Chi Minh City has mastered and strengthened the direction of press and media agencies to actively promote their role in defending the Party’s ideological foundation, and fighting against the enemy’s wrong views with the motto that is “taking the good to eliminate the bad”. The Municipal Party Committee regularly directs press and media agencies to closely follow important socio-political events of the country as well as the city. It is necessary to proactively and actively propagate the Party’s lines and policies to all classes of people. It is necessary to proactively detect and actively fight against the misrepresentation and false claims of hostile forces, reactionary forces, and political opportunities. It is necessary to actively participate in the fight to prevent corruption, waste, and other negative manifestations. This is an important ideological-political orientation that the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee has mastered and oriented for media and press agencies.

Ho Chi Minh City has also launched the pilot project of a data portal at data.hochiminhcity.gov.vn to provide information about medical examination and treatment facilities and medical certificates, information about educational institutions and services...

For building the Command Control Center – Smart city, the city has piloted the connection and integration of data from cameras of the Department of Transport, People’s Committees of Districts 1 and 2, Phu Nhuan and Go Vap with more than 1,000 cameras. Thereby, the system can recognize faces and types of vehicles in traffic and detect crowds, traffic incidents, and issues of security and order... 

The leadership of the City Party Committee ensures that the press and the media are always in the right political and ideological direction in the complex situations of social life when there is conflicting information. From there, it will fulfill the function of an ideological tool well. The Party Committee regularly guides the press and the media to prevent and overcome the risk of being passive at work, even losing their direction, and being away from the principles and purposes.

To master the point of view: “The cadre is the decisive factor for the success or failure of the revolution” and the personnel work is the “key” stage in building Party and the political system, in recent years, the Party Committee of Ho Chi Minh City has paid attention to the leadership of the organization and personnel work for press and media agencies.

In the process of renovation, Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee always values the roles and responsibilities of leaders and managers, especially heads of press and media agencies.

The Party Committee focuses on the personnel work from personnel preparation, planning, selection, placement, and employment of staff in the field of press and media. Based on the common standards for cadres of the Party and State, Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee has concretized the standards of the officers who are the heads of press and media agencies. Editors must have a strong political stance, not be confused and persuaded by the claims of hostile forces. They need to have the right attitude towards domestic and international political events, the resolute attitude towards wrong manifestations, and professional qualifications in journalism, propaganda, and culture... The editor-in-chief takes primary and comprehensive responsibility for all the affairs of the newsroom.

Determining the important role of the editor-in-chief of newspapers and magazines, the City Party Committee regularly consolidates and promptly supplement key officials of the press agencies to meet the requirements and duties of the press of the City.

In the process of leading the press and media activities, Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee always pays attention to the inspection and supervision of Party organizations, officials, and party members operating in press and media agencies. Party committees and governments have directed the authorities to conduct many checks and work with units such as: working with Ho Chi Minh City Television (HTV) about using the Vietnamese map but not showing the national sovereignty in the noon newsletter, and advertising code to vote but not providing information about service charges, working with the ‘Phu nu News’ about not posting feedback according to the Press Law; inspecting according to the plan in the field of journalism at the Khan Quang Do News... Party committees at all levels have also worked with press agencies (including Phu Nu News, Saigon Giai Phong, Nguoi Lao Dong News, and Tuoi Tre News) to clarify the content of the petition and reflection of organizations and individuals about information in the press. They have also worked with organizations and individuals about holding press conferences without notifying the competent agency...

The coordination of inspection and examination is also concerned and directed by all levels. In 2016, the Department of Information and Communications of the City coordinated with the Press Department - Ministry of Information and Communications to inspect according to the plan at a press agency (Saigon - The Economic Times). In 2018, it collaborated with the Inspector of the Ministry of Information and Communications to carry out a planned inspection at the Cong An News on the press activity. It also coordinated with the Authority of Radio Frequency Management to inspect the Voice of Ho Chi Minh City People - VOH...

The City Party Committee has directed all levels of the Party Committee to inspect the Party organization in the press - media agency through activities. It worked periodically with the party organizations in the press and media agencies through the members in charge of the press and media agencies to grasp the situation and help the Party Committee to promptly rectify and handle violations. The inspection of the City Party Committee for the press and media are carried out synchronously with the State Inspector of the City, creating unity between the Party’s leadership and State management, between the political direction and the observance of the law. Thanks to that, it has promptly discovered and corrected mistakes in the operation of press and media agencies in the city.

Some shortcomings and limitations in leading the work of journalism and communication include:

Firstly, in some cases, documents that direct, lead and guide the implementation have not yet been promptly issued after the documents for direction and guidance of the Central are available.

Secondly, many documents that direct, lead and guide the implementation of press and communication activities of the Party Committee and the Government of City are formality, and not close to the practical situation and the characteristics of each field and locality.

Thirdly, many difficulties, shortcomings, and limitations in the press and media in the city have been pointed out by the competent authority. However, they have not yet promptly directed and led. The remedy or settlement is ineffective and superficial.

Fourthly, in leading press and media activities, some documents issued by Party Committees and the Government of the city are duplicated and inconsistent, making it difficult to apply. The leadership of press and communication activities of the Party Committee and Government of the city is not regular and continuous. Sometimes, there is a lax, leading to the fact that the press and media activities in the city still exist the phenomenon of redundancy and lack. Currently, in the City, many newspapers have the same content and the same form... Meanwhile, the contents of some topics and fields are rarely mentioned, especially the topics of science. The phenomenon of redundancy and lack is reflected in the fact that the published and released newspapers are not evenly distributed between urban and rural areas. There are also differences in the access, exploitation, and use of information and media between urban and rural areas...

Facing the above achievements and limitations, the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee is required to strengthen leadership in the media and press activities to ensure that they are timely and relevant at each particular period:

Firstly, we need to focus on leading and directing investment in facilities and equipment for press and media agencies. At the same time, it is necessary to direct the enhancement of the application of new information technology, science, and techniques in journalism and the production of press and communication products to suit the current trend.

Secondly, we need to innovate and strengthen leadership through the organization, officials, and party members in the press and media agencies. We need to train and cultivate to improve theoretical and professional qualifications and implement timely policies for the staff working in the press and media.

Thirdly, it is necessary to check and supervise on time, which helps the press and media activities be in the right direction and contributes to the industrialization and modernization of the country and the city.

Fourthly, we need to deal harmoniously keeping the principles and purpose of journalism and communication with modernization trends. It is necessary to overcome the trend of commercialization of the press and consider the public’s legitimate tastes a criterion to renew the Party’s leadership with the press and media agencies.

Innovating the content and leadership methods of the Party is to constantly have new forms, content, and appropriate methods to make the press and media activities achieve the leadership goals and content of the Party.

It is necessary to focus on promoting the theoretical development and summarizing the practice of the leadership of the press and media to make sure that the Party has the scientific basis to properly orient the politics for the press and media. We need to improve the issuance of directives, resolutions, and projects... about the press and media. We should count, evaluate, review, summarize the given content and value the implementation. It is necessary to strictly implement the inspection regimes and value the responsibility of party organizations and party members. The team of staff and advisors in the field of journalism and media must actively and proactively raise their qualifications in both theory and practice. They must have new thinking and suitable professional skills, and quickly adapt at work...

Through the practice of press and media in Vietnam as well as in Ho Chi Minh City, we should study the achievements in leading content and method of the Party towards the press and media. At the same time, we need to find out the shortcomings, limitations, objective causes, and subjective causes of the limitations in the leadership, direction, and orientation of the Party towards the press and media. Thanks to that, we will gain valuable experiences and lessons in providing solutions and recommendations to strengthen the Party’s leadership towards the press and media n

__________________

References:

1. Directive No. 22/CT-TW dated October 17, 1997 of the Politburo on continuing to innovate and strengthen leadership, management and publishing.

2. Directive No. 52/CT-TW dated July 22, 2005 of the Secretariat on the development and management of electronic newspapers.

3. Directive No. 37/2006/CT-TTg dated November 29, 2006 of the Prime Minister on some measures to strengthen the leadership and management of the press.

4. Nguyen Van Dung: Modern media (from academia to daily life), Hanoi National University Publishing House, 2011.

5. CPV: Document of the 12th National Party Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2016.

6. CPV: Document of the 11th National Party Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011.

PHAM TRUYEN THONG, MA

Ho Chi Minh City Cadre Academy

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