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Media culture in journalism activities in Vietnam

(PTOJ) - Media culture is a part, an aspect of socio-cultural. From the perspective of cultural management, the article focuses on clarifying the concept of media culture, analyzing and clarifying the current situation of advantages, limitations, and development trends of media culture; proposing some solutions to solve the problems being raised, in order to develop media culture in journalism activities in Vietnam today.

Media culture is a part, an aspect of socio-cultural - Source: vnanet.vn

In the process of innovation and international integration, Vietnam’s media has had a strong innovation, a great impact on socio-cultural life. The change of communication is the result of many objective and subjective factors: globalization and international exchanges, the development of science - technology, the leadership of the Party, the management of the State, the development of the team of people operating in the field of communication.

Understanding the current situation and development trends of media culture in the current context is very essential, contributing to providing scientific grounds for planning strategies and plans to increase and spread the values of communication, identifying and minimizing negative factors arising in the communication process. 

1. The concept of media culture

Culture is understood as an organic system of material and spiritual values accumulated by people through the process of practical activities, in the interaction between people and the natural and social environment(1). Communication is the continuous process by which we understand others and make others understand us(2). The media itself is also a cultural phenomenon. 

In the world, Media Culture appeared as a scientific concept in the latter of the twentieth century. From many different approaches, researchers offer many connotations of this term. If communication is considered as a cultural phenomenon, then culture communication is a process of information exchange in which values are formed and permeate all elements of communication. 

It can be understood that, media culture is the concept that reflects the values of communication activities that appear and affect social life, where communication is both phenomenon and specific process.

Therefore, the content of the concept of media culture in journalistic activities is the values that are permeated and present in all elements of journalistic activities, from the quality of information, the culture of the team reporters, editors to the culture of information recipients, information transmission technology...

2. Current status of media culture in journalism activities in Vietnam

Accomplishments

About the capacity and qualities of the team of reporters and editors

In recent years, press agencies have grown in both quantity and quality.

As of December 31st, 2020, the whole country has 779 press agencies, including 142 newspapers (Central: 68, local: 74, 112 newspapers have electronic newspaper activities); 612 journals (Central: 520, local: 92, there are 98 journals with e-journal activities); 25 independent electronic press agencies (09 electronic newspapers and 16 electronic magazines). 

The whole country has 72 agencies with licensed permit to operate broadcasting and television (Broadcasting) with 02 national stations (Vietnam Television Station, Voice of Vietnam), 01 VTC digital television station, 64 local stations, 05 television operating units (People’s Television, News Television, Vietnam National Defense Television, People’s Public Security Television, National Assembly Television) with a total of 87 radio channels and 193 television channels.

There are more than 41,000 people working in the field of journalism, of which 15,768 are in the broadcasting sector. Most of the team of reporters and editors of press agencies are well-trained from universities with journalism training majors such as the Academy of Journalism and Communication, the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, under Hanoi National University and Ho Chi Minh City National University, Hue University, University of Theater and Cinema (Film Department) and other specialized schools. The whole country has 21,132 people who have been granted journalist’s cards (an increase of 725 journalist cards compared to 2019)(3).

In general, the professional qualifications, operational skills, political theory, professional ethics, ... of the team of reporters and editors are important factors constituting traditional culture and communication, increasingly improved, meeting mission requirements. 

About the quality of press information

Basically, press agencies have seriously implemented the leadership, direction and information orientation of the Party and State, sticking to the goal of maintaining political stability, social consensus and trust of the people towards the Party and the regime. Press information has timely, truthfully and comprehensively reflected political, economic, cultural, social, foreign affairs and security and defense life at domestic and abroad,  which is the reliable forum of the people. 

Information content in the press is diversified, comprehensive, highly socially critical to issues of all fields of social life. In addition, the press is also the pioneer in protecting the Party’s ideological foundation, fighting against false and hostile views. Journalists are also warriors in the fight against social negativity. 

In addition to programs and news in Vietnamese, a number of press agencies at the central and local levels also carry out programs and publications in ethnic minority languages to help people in ethnic minority areas and remote areas firmly grasp the viewpoints, guidelines and policies of the Party and State. A number of radio stations and newspapers have produced news and articles directly in foreign languages (English, French, Russian, Chinese, Japanese) to help spread the information among the overseas Vietnamese community as well as the international community.  

In addition, press agencies have also paid attention to meeting people’s entertainment needs. In particular, on radio and television, there have been many entertainment programs with good aesthetic education content.

Regarding technological innovation, improving the operational efficiency of press agencies

Many press agencies have actively innovated and approached modern journalism technology to put press information on different media infrastrutures and platforms. 

Currently, 100% of radio and television stations have built youtube channels, put their radio and television content on the facebook platform, upgraded their websites, and built television applications (app) of the station to facilitate the audience and listeners to access information of the press agency, and at the same time contribute to the promotion of self-produced programs (4)

There are 02 localities that have converted to the converged newsroom model, such as: Quang Ninh Media Center and Binh Phuoc Radio and Television Station(5). Efforts in technological innovation by press agencies have increased access to information for all classes of people.  

About the culture of receiving and enjoying the value of journalistic products of the public 

Public demand is the basis for press agencies to develop or adjust development strategies, content and form of information transmission. Today, the public is no longer passive recipients of press information, but actively receives, expresses their wishes and requests for information, and even participates directly in the communication process. In other words, the right to culture and the right to information of the public are recognized and enforced in practice. The press public has become “wise” recipients of information, actively choosing journalistic products, selecting reliable information, eliminating “junk” information, even protesting against it or boycott bad and toxic information in the media in general, in the press in particular.

Limitations

In addition to the results achieved, journalism activities also revealed weaknesses, limitations, affecting media culture. 

About the team of reporters and editors:

In the team of journalists, in particular, there are still cases of limited professional qualifications, not meeting the requirements and tasks. In addition, there are cases where reporters violate the law, violate professional ethics, take advantage of journalistic activities for personal interest(6)

Some reporters and press agency collaborators take advantage of papers and press cards to solicit advertisements, cause troubles for agencies, organizations and enterprises, and adversely affect their professional reputation. Journalists are operating in accordance with the law. In 2020, the Central Council for Handling Violations of Professional Ethics issued the decision to revoke the right to use press operation licenses for 02 press agencies and revoked press cards in 02 cases due to serious violations(7)

About the quality of press information

Some press agencies do not comply with the operating principles and purposes; giving false information, information not in accordance with the provisions of the license; lack of political sensitivity, do not follow directions, orient information. Some press agencies have not been proactive and timely in regulating information, leading to the frequency of some news being rushed, excessive, causing psychological insecurity and confusion in society.

The trend of “commercialization” in press activities has been slowly overcome, a lot of information in the press is not selective, heavy on reflecting the drawbacks and negative sides of society; a lot of news content, sensational articles, and guest sentences cause the honesty of the press to be reduced. The state of “publication” of the magazine is still ongoing. Some television games (game shows) are still permissive in terms of content, images, objectionable dialogue, lack of aesthetics, and are not suitable for national culture. 

About communication technology

Until now, only 02 press agencies have switched to the converged newsroom model. Converged newsroom is the modern newsroom model with unified operation, taking full advantage of multimedia human resources and digital technology platform to produce products for multi-platform journalism. This is the development trend of press agencies in the digital era. 

This very modest number reflects the fact that communication technology in journalism is limited. 

About the press public

The press public is increasingly large in number and diverse in demand. However, in the current set of press information needs of the public, besides the legitimate needs, there are also unhealthy needs. And to satisfy the tastes of a part of the public with this unhealthy taste is the birth of easy, worthless, even counter-valued journalistic products. In addition, with the help of technological and technical means, the public can easily interact with press agencies, through pressing the “like”, “share”, “comment” buttons (like, share, comment). But not all of them are civilized people when interacting with press products. Negative comments, hateful attitudes appear a lot on cyberspace. Obviously, the culture of receiving journalistic products of part of the public is revealing its limitations. 

3. Raising issues 

Strong development towards convergence and multimedia

The model of the converged, multi-media newsroom is the strongest development trend in terms of communication methods, helping the public to receive diverse information through the senses, creating strong interactive effects. Media culture in journalism activities has changed in conveying messages thanks to the combination of different types: language, images, sounds, graphics, videos and different methods of interaction. In the converged media model, the multi-dimensional relationship and interaction between the parts of the press and media agency is very clear. This requires the team of communicators to be both flexible and creative, but to maximize the spirit of collaboration and sharing. 

In addition, press agencies must promote technology application in all stages, from production to transmission and distribution of press products, communication and personalization of product content, in order to increase efficiency and reduce costs. At the same time, in the process of digital transformation, press agencies must also change the organizational model of their newsrooms and technology to suit new conditions.

Competition among press agencies in exploiting and transmitting information

The rapid increase in the number of electronic press websites has made journalism activities more and more exciting. Press agencies face many challenges, first is the competition in exploitation, use and dissemination of information between press agencies with different types of media and between media agencies and press agencies. 

Competition is the driving force for development, but besides the positive meaning, it can force many press agencies and media to follow the needs of the public’s tastes by all means to retain them. 

Press agencies participating in the process of international integration

Currently, news agencies are increasingly interdependent; Information sharing and cooperation takes place on an increasingly large scale, not only at domestic connection but also between countries and territories. As a result, press agencies can access news and events from all over the world. Likewise, the public is not limited to one country or territory, but for the global public. 

Therefore, the value of information is international. There have been press agencies that have signed contracts to buy news packages from major news agencies and media in the world, possessing the huge volume of information with diverse content, in order to provide to public audiences with different needs. 

The problem for press agencies today is not only receiving one-way international information, but each press agency must be a sharing and connecting channel to bring Vietnam to the world, bringing the world to Vietnam, promote the soft power of Vietnamese culture through the introduction, promotion and provision of accurate and timely information to international readers about the country and people of Vietnam. 

That two-way communication process must ensure compliance with international and Vietnamese laws as well as national cultural standards.

Self-Financial issue of press agencies

According to the Project on the development and management of the press up to 2025, in order to reduce the burden of the State and improve the quality, besides the newspapers with specific functions and tasks, which is funded to operate by the State budget, most of the press agencies will have to be self-financial(8). 

Currently, there are 300/860 self-financial press agencies(9), not supported by the State budget, which are newspapers and magazines of ministries, branches and mass organizations. 

Press agencies and media will face many challenges and difficulties when converting to a new operating model and way. This requires leaders of the press and media agencies to be more proactive and innovative in their management thinking so as to build their own strategies and appropriate directions in the new era, especially the issue of organizational structure, increasing investment in technology resources and organizing well economic activities of the press. 

The culture of receiving and enjoying the value of media products from the public is increasingly diverse and rich.

The renovation of the country has obtained important and historically significant results. One of these achievements is the improvement of people’s intellectual level and the improvement of people’s living standards. The culture of receiving information from the public has also changed in the direction of diversifying needs and improving quality. 

Therefore, the public’s requirements for information content and forms of information transmission by press agencies are becoming more and more stringent. The public requires information that is not only fast and accurate, but also attractive. 

Moreover, the public’s interest in information in the press also changes with the trend of the times, focusing on famous people in the fields of politics, society, entertainment and consumption.. The public not only receives one-way passive information, but they also have the need to interact with media information through the form of sharing, commenting,... If the press agencies do not grasp the needs of the public, it will be difficult to develop appropriate strategies and development plans. 

4. Solutions 

To add value in all aspects of press activities and products, it is necessary to focus on the following solutions:

Firstly, continuing to strengthen the leadership of the Party, the management of the State; the coordination between the Association of Journalists and the governing body in order to create unity in leadership, management and organization of press activities. 

Good leadership and management of the press is the key factor to orient press agencies to well implement their principles and purposes, contributing to the cause of national construction and defense. In the short term, the press agencies need to implement synchronously and effectively the national plan on press development and management up to 2025. The Journalists’ Association and governing agencies need to grasp the operation situation of press agencies to promptly detect difficulties and obstacles in the implementation process, thereby proposing and recommending measures and solutions to remove and overcome. 

The implementation of the model of converged journalism and multimedia is necessary; however, this is a new model, therefore, in order to evaluate the positives, limitations, inadequacies and have orientation for the implementation in the coming time, it is necessary to organize a preliminary review, evaluate the advantages and disadvantages, thereby building models suitable for practical conditions. 

Secondly,perfecting institutions and policies for press agencies, press activities and people operating in the field of journalism. 

Relevant agencies should focus on reviewing and fully and comprehensively assessing arising issues and inadequacies of the legal regulations, as a basis for proposing amendments to the Press Law, with a focus on content management. Content goes hand in hand with platform and technology management, both creating conditions for the press to perform well its essential political and communication tasks, as well as developing entertainment content. 

Thirdly, continuing to improve the quality of the team of people working in the field of journalism.

Raising the role and responsibility of the head of the press agency; improving the quality of the team of reporters, editors and technicians. Perfecting the work of training, fostering and recruiting the team of people working in the field of journalism. Besides cultivating political, expertise and professional skills, the press staffs need to constantly practice professional ethics. Above all, they must clearly understand and strictly comply with the Party’s regulations and the State’s law on press work and press activities, 10 regulations on professional ethics for Vietnamese journalists, Rules Journalists’ behavior on social media. 

The governing bodies need to strictly manage and create favorable conditions for the contingent of reporters, editors and collaborators to operate well, in accordance with the principles and purposes of the press agency and the provisions of the Law on Press. For the violations of agencies and reporters, they need to be rectified and handled seriously. But on the contrary, for press officers who have made typical contributions, there should be rewarding to honor.

Fourthly, constantly improving the quality of press information. 

Regardless of the form of information transmission, for press agencies, the indispensable thing for long-term survival and affirmation is the value of the content. This is the criterion that should always be placed on top. Only press products of high quality, accurate, honest, objective, and humanistic information can build social trust and are well received by the public. 

Civilized society will no longer have a place for fake, unverified news on social media platforms because users are becoming more and more qualified and experienced in choosing information from reliable sources. The quantity of information is no longer as important as the high quality of the information and the attractive, modern, and convenient presentation with the following features: reading, listening, seeing, feedback... 

The quality of press information depends on many factors, from the talent and creativity of the team of reporters, editors, technicians to technology. Therefore, in order to improve the quality of press information, it is necessary to encourage the creativity of the press staff through the mechanism of management, use and remuneration; at the same time, it is also necessary to invest in modernizing the facilities and information technology infrastructure of the press agencies. In this way, new programs, news and articles are likely to become more attractive, vivid, practical, in-depth, with clear messages and closer to reality.

Fifthly, continuing to improve the intellectual level, capacity, aesthetic taste and behavioral culture for the press public.

As mentioned above, one of the measures of the success of press agencies and press products is their standing in the hearts of the public. The public’s culture of reception is an important driving force in promoting the innovation efforts of news agencies and the creativity of journalists. In order for the press public to become intelligent recipients and have “green eyes” in appraising, evaluating and enjoying the value of journalistic products, the public itself needs to be equipped with knowledge, fostering aesthetic capacity, lifestyle, lifestyle. To do so, educational subjects from families, schools and society need to join hands to foster a worldview and a human outlook for each individual and society, especially the young generation. Comprehensive education in both knowledge, morality and aesthetics is a sustainable way to promote the capacity to receive values, including the value of journalistic products, as well as create the fighting to evil.

Vietnam integrates deeply in all fields. This new context brings many opportunities but at the same time poses many challenges for building a media culture in journalism activities. To promote the achieved results and overcome challenges, overcome limitations, towards “Building a professional, humane and modern journalism and media”(10) as the spirit of the Congress XIII of the Party, requires leading agencies, management, and press agencies to solve many problems synchronously, of which two are key issues in media culture, that is, the human issue and technology - people work in the field of journalism and apply technology in journalism activities. Thus, media culture in journalistic activities will spread values into social life, making practical contributions to the construction and defense of the Fatherland.

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Endnotes:

(1) Tran Ngoc Them: Finding Vietnamese cultural identity, Ho Chi Minh City Publishing House, 1997, p.27.

(2) Dang Thi Thu Huong (editor): Mass media culture in Vietnam in terms of market economy and globalization, Hanoi National University Publishing House, 2016, p.41.

(3), (4), (5), (7) Ministry of Information and Communications, Central Communication Department, Vietnam Journalists Association: Report on Press Work in 2020 and an overview of the 2016 period - 2020, orientation of tasks and solutions in 2021.

(6) https://nhandan.vn/binh-luan-phe-phan/kien-quyet-chong-nhung-bieu-hien-tieu-cuc-trong-linh-vuc-bao-chi-ky-1-307360.

(8) https://www.mic.gov.vn/Pages/TinTuc/138822/Toan-van-Quy-hoach-phat-trien-va-quan-ly-bao-chi-toan-quoc-den-nam-2025.html.

(9) Press and the problem of self-control, http://hoinhabaovietnam.vn, February 15th, 2019.

(10) CPV: Document of the 13th National Party Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2021, p.146.

PHD STUDENT NGUYEN THI KIM NGOC

Communist Review

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