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Political theory education for journalists, editors and technicians of press agencies: Situation and solutions

(LLCT) - President Ho Chi Minh regularly attached great importance to the education of political theory for cadres and Party members. Right at the beginning of the work The Revolutionary Path (1927), he quoted V.I. Lenin’s words “Without a revolutionary theory, there is no revolutionary movement... Only with excellent revolutionary theory, can a revolutionary party highlight its vanguard responsibility”(1).

The revolutionary press agencies(2) play a very important role in propagating the viewpoints, guidelines and policies of the Party and the State to all classes of people. President Ho Chi Minh and the Communist Party of Vietnam considered the revolutionary press as a front and the press officers as also revolutionary soldiers. Their pens and pages are their sharp weapons. The duty of the press is to serve the people and the revolution. To fulfill their glorious tasks, journalists need to equip themselves with strong political thoughts and cultivated revolutionary morality.

Keywords: political theory education, journalists, editors, technicians, press agencies.

1. The need of political theory education for journalists, editors, technicians of press agencies

Firstly, political theory education directly fosters and improves knowledge in all aspects, primarily, raising political awareness and enlightenment for journalists, editors and technicians in press agencies.

Political education directly equips people with political theory, popularizes Marxism - Leninism, Ho Chi Minh Thought, the Party’s guideline and the State’s policies, knowledge of social sciences and humanities, economic and political issues, domestic and international situation, etc. It contributes to building the outlooks, correct methodology for journalists, editors, technicians to consider, solve and explain scientifically events, phenomena in social life, and on that basis, they can apply to their work.

In the current revolutionary period, each journalist, editor, technician of the press agencies is required to be truly a pioneer soldier on the ideological and cultural front with a high political enlightenment level, a strong political mettle, infinite loyalty to the revolutionary cause of the Party, making every effort to protect and develop the revolutionary journalism. Therefore, political theory education for journalists, editors and technicians of press agencies has an even more important role, contributing to educating and fostering revolutionary sentiment; encouraging all of them to strive to lead a cultured life, have a noble ideal, deep knowledge, good health, and are enthusiastic to the revolution.

Secondly, educating directly on political theory that directs awareness and guides revolutionary actions for journalists, editors and technicians in press agencies, contributing to building and developing journalists’ professionalism and personality.

Raising awareness, ideological direction and guiding revolutionary action for journalists, editors and technicians is one of the most important tasks of political theory education. It not only helps them clearly define their ideal and political ideological orientation but also gives them the ability to choose directions and measures to achieve their ideal goals. Without or even having no clear definition of political direction, journalists, editors and technicians in press agencies will not be able to distinguish right from wrong, thus easily being affected by political events, difficult challenges, which leads to deviations in writing, editing articles and news. President Ho Chi Minh taught: “Learn to trust: Trust in mass associations. Trust in the People. Trust in the future of the nation. Trust in the future of the revolution. If we have trust, we will be determined, enthusiastic, and in times of difficulty, we will definitely sacrifice”(3).

Through rich, lively, attractive and convincing forms and methods of ideological instruction, political theory education performs the function of both general orientation (enlightening the ideal, goal, lifestyle, and focused orientation (orienting attitudes, behaviors of journalists in response to a specific event or activity...). The political ideological orientation is a regular work of political theory education, especially in the fluctuations of the current complex global and regional situation, which are directly the difficulties and hardships in process of work, study as well as in the daily life of each journalist, editor, technician in press agencies.

Thirdly, political theory education plays an important role in fighting against wrongful tendencies and views, reactionary arguments, misperceptions, and negative, rightist phenomena.

Currently, with the strong impact from the negative side of the market economy, the practical lifestyle and enjoyment, somewhere there are still some journalists, editors, and technicians who are indifferent to politics, and moderate in work, cultivation and training. Especially while the plots of the hostile forces in the peaceful evolution are affecting them every day and every hour, education in political theory plays an increasingly important role in the fight against wrong tendencies, views, reactionaries; criticizing wrong perceptions and improper behavior of journalists, editors, and technicians; contributing to the protection of Marxism - Leninism, Ho Chi Minh Thought, the Party’s guidelines and viewpoints.

2. The content and characteristics of political theory education for journalists, editors, technicians in press agencies

Contents of political education for journalists, editors and technicians in press agencies include: Marxism - Leninism, Ho Chi Minh Thought, points of view, guidelines, policies of the Party and State, the situation of revolutionary missions; revolutionary objects and partners, the nature, intrigue and plots of hostile forces, the spirit of revolutionary vigilance; socialist patriotism, history, traditions and cultural identity of the nation, the Party, the class; State law; political quality and moral lifestyle; ethics of journalists; other necessary knowledge about economics, science, culture and society, etc..

Because of the job’s special characteristics, the political theory education for this group has the following features:

Firstly, education is conducted right in the working process, which is to create journalist products.

Political education for journalists, editors and technicians in press agencies is organized and implemented along with the process of organizing the implementation of key political tasks and other tasks. It is a complicated process, interconnecting, interrelating, and interacting with both subjective and objective factors with the specific characteristics of the contingent of cadres and Party members doing media work.

The economic, socio-political situation in the world and in the country, the political environment of the press agencies and the uniqueness of the press activities are objective factors or direct circumstances and regularly influencing, dominating and deciding on the sentiments, political standpoint and thoughts of journalists, editors and technicians in press agencies. Along with the objective factors, the activities of each journalist, editor and technician in the process of learning, practicing, striving and exploring scientific research are a subjective factor that has a dialectic relationship with objective factors, creating a whole set of unified factors directly related to the development of personality, consciousness and political ideology of the cadres and Party members in the press agency. These are decisive factors to continue to develop and improve the personality of journalists.

Secondly, political theory education is carried out right in the process of self-study, research, training, and experience of each journalist, editor, and technician. This is considered a process that both directly and indirectly creates the development of political theory education, so it depends greatly on the level of theoretical thinking, the ability to convey the level of political enlightenment, awareness, emotions, will and beliefs of each journalist, editor, technician in the specific circumstances of the press agencies. Political theory education will not develop without the impact and contribution of people. The contingent of cadres and Party members, including instructors and learners at the press agency, are the ones who influence and contribute to the development of political theory education, given their formal education at training institutions. Being well equipped with the obtained knowledge, they are facilitated to work in a favorable and ever-changing environment in all aspects, always have to keep updated because of the increasingly demanding requirements of their jobs; in order to adapt and develop, they have to learn, practice, research by themselves to improve all aspects. As their intellectual level increases, there is a development, especially the development of the logical thinking, the ability to communicate, the level of political enlightenment, awareness, will and trust, at the same time, it also leads to the development of operational forms, including political theory education to better meet and serve the needs of comprehensive development of cadres and Party members in the press agencies.

3. Current situation of political theory education for journalists, editors and technicians in press agencies

The political theory education for journalists, editors and technicians in press agencies over the years shows that the Party committees and organizations have duly paid more and more attention to the position, role and importance of political theory. Its education is considered an important regular task, a basic, central, decisive step to the formation of political, ethical and practical performance of revolutionary journalists. The quality of political theory education directly determines the quality of political tasks performance.

Political theory education for journalists, editors and technicians in press agencies has been carried out scientifically, closely and seriously from planning to renewing content and teaching methods. The education of political theory has been carried out in accordance with the program and contents of educational political theory as prescribed; attached importance to the development of the level of enlightenment of Marxism - Leninism, Ho Chi Minh Thought, the Party’s guidelines and viewpoints,the State’s policies, national history and traditions as well as traditions of revolutionary press agencies, revolutionary morality and revolutionary vigilance; it also equips other necessary social science and humanities knowledge to help learners actively prevent peaceful evolution, riots, and improve the combativeness on the cultural-ideological front.

In addition, the educational content has been identified closely with the responsibilities and duties of each journalist, editor and technician based on their assigned tasks. Press agencies have actively built communication topics on the occasion of political events, major holidays of the Party, the country, etc. to educate and motivate journalists, editors, technicians to actively, enthusiastically strive and improve political responsibility in performing assigned tasks and functions. Press agencies have regularly checked and evaluated the results according to the requirements of each content, promptly discovered unreasonable problems to supplement and adjust the educational plan.

Along with the effective implementation of the contents of political theory education, press agencies have flexibly and creatively applied the modes and forms of political theory education. Press agencies have focused on renewing the modes, forms and measures of education according to many different levels suitable to each specific educational content: basic education curriculum, group discussion; leadership activities, learning activities, self-criticism and criticism activities of the party organization; monthly political, current news review, political days, cultural - spiritual days at grassroots level; activities of mass organizations through public mobilization work. Testing and evaluating methods are also innovated. The education of political theory is associated with professional work and building a cultural environment, with learning and following Ho Chi Minh Thought, morality and style; with the building of transparent and strong party organizations as well as comprehensively strong units. The educational methods of political theory such as setting examples of leading officials at all levels, general education, private education, self-criticism and criticism, general education, etc. are also combined and flexibly applied to fit the targeted learners, condition and means of education. Various types of the implementation of methods, forms and measures of political theory education have attracted the participation of journalists, editors and technicians, contributes to improving the quality of political theory education in press agencies.

Due to actively raising awareness, enhancing leadership, and directing the education of political reasoning, the contingent of journalists, editors and technicians in press agencies all have firm political mettle and unyielding faith in the leadership of the Party and the national renewal; upholding the spirit of patriotism and socialism; having high responsibility for the political mission of their respective units. The vast majority of journalists, editors and technicians in press agencies raise the spirit of revolutionary vigilance; maintain political orientation in performing duties; actively strive, study to improve political and professional qualifications; remain firm against unstability in world and regional situation; well define the tasks according to their assigned positions and functions. The awareness of abiding by the resolutions of the Party and the laws of the State has been raised; building a democratic and united atmosphere in the unit. Most journalists, editors and technicians in press agencies are assured and excited in performing their duties. Many journalists have set good examples, trying their best for the cause of national construction and defence.

However, the implementation of the content, modes and forms of political theory education in press agencies largely depends on the content according to set regulations, traditional modes, forms, and system, which prevent it from bringing into play the initiative and creativity of learners and other supplementary forms. In the educational process, learners are less able to express their personal opinions, the awareness orientation has not been very deep and close to the responsibilities and tasks of the educational object. Although the content of political theoretical education for cadres and Party members has been renewed and brought into play effectively, the quality and results achieved are not comprehensive. Practicality in education is not high; the contact, application and practice are not close to the actual situations of the organizations; the in-depth research and resolution of important and urgent contents has not been focused regularly. The contents of political theoretical education topics for journalists, editors and technicians have not been enriched or deepened. In addition, the persuasion and attractiveness of the contents of political theoretical education are not high, the criticism of wrong views, negative phenomena in the organization lacks sharpness. The phenomena of formalization of political theory education still exist at a few Party committees and organizations. At some point, the contents of ethical and legal education have not been focused. The update of new information and knowledge about economic, cultural, social, legal and scientific fields still has certain limitations. The methods and forms of political theory education, despite of some improvements and relatively diverse application, are unevenly implemented. As a result, at present, many journalists do not pay adequate attention to improving their knowledge, vision, qualifications, political mettle, underestimating field trips, taking available information or being tempted to write or report extreme, false, subjective and dishonest information. In fact, many media publications are prone to depicting bad examples, instead of giving good models and offering constructive solutions. Some journalists in charge of economics section of the newspaper get rich very quickly by standing behind real estate businesses, or exploiting unfavorable information from businesses to benefit themselves. The fact that some press agencies and journalists were fined, or arrested for reporting inaccurate information and blackmailing businesses further shows that a part of journalists cannot resist the bad temptation, leading to violations of professional ethics in the market economy. The decline in professional ethics and the weakness in political mettle of a part of journalists are the manifestations of self evolution, self transformation in journalism. This is due to the weakness in training and cultivating political characters, professional ethics of the journalists and the loose supervision of the editorial boards, especially the editors in terms of journalists’ behaviors and ethics(4). In this regard, at the National Conference summarizing the activities of the Vietnam Journalists Association in 2017 and discussing the orientation and tasks for 2018, comrade Vo Van Thuong, Member of the Politburo, Secretary of the Party Central Committee, Head of the Central Committee for Communication and Education frankly pointed out the shortcomings and weaknesses: “That is, some press agencies provide information that is not in the right direction, purpose, not targeting the right audience; information that lack political sensitivity, inconsistent with the interests of the country and the people, even false information, harmful to national interests, and offends the reputation of the organization, the honor, dignity of the citizen. The violations by journalists and against the law and professional ethics still exist. Some journalists still have limited knowledge and are unable to keep up with the time, leading to articles which are of no orientation but counterproductive”(5).

4. Solutions to improve political theory education for journalists, editors and technicians in current press agencies

Firstly, it is necessary to regularly raise awareness, responsibility of the Party committees, Party organizations and journalists, editors and technicians in press agencies about the role of political theory education. Awareness and responsibilities of the Party committees and Party organizations are the leading foundation of decisive significance that determine the quality of political theory education, overcoming the laziness among cadres and party members in learning political theory. Therefore, each Party committee and Party organization should continue to educate, thoroughly grasp and organize the implementation of the Party’s resolutions, especially Conclusion No. 69-KL/ TW dated April 14, 2010 of the Secretariat on continuing to implement Decision 54-QD/TW dated May 12, 1999 of the 8th Politburo on the political theory regime in the Party; Conclusion 57-KL/TW, dated March 8, 2013 of the Secretariat on continuing to promote training and fostering political theory for leaders and managers at all levels; Resolution No.32-NQ/TW, dated May 26, 2014 of the Politburo on continuing to innovate and improve the quality of training and fostering political theory for leaders and managers, ensuring strictness and seriousness of the study and avoiding the situation of quickly grabbing knowledge as a formality and underestimate the learning of political theory.

Secondly, it is essential to strictly comply with regulations and learning regime of political theory associated with providing information and updating new knowledge for journalists, editors and technicians in press agencies. The Resolution of the 4th plenum of the Party Central Committee (12th tenure) require that “there must be compulsory plans to study and foster to improve the theoretical level for cadres and Party members annually, together with providing information and updating knowledge suitable with each subject, each level, each sector, each locality”(6). To promote the exemplary role of the leader and key leadership of the press agency, political theory education must be considered a compulsory obligation for all journalists, editors and technicians and must be defined into a regulation for people to seriously implement on their own. Self-study and political theory study should be set as compulsory criteria in the activities of cadres and party members. Information on new views and policies of the Party and State should be regularly provided to journalists, editors and technicians in a timely manner to ensure truthfulness, completeness, accuracy, objectivity and scientific characters. The Resolution of the 4th plenum of the Party Central Committee (12th tenure) clearly states the need to “actively orient, provide regular or irregular information; attach importance to propagating the Party’s viewpoints and lines, the policies and laws of the State, achievements in the cause of national construction and defense, positive factors, advanced examples, good examples, good deeds”(7). It is necessary to timely prevent journalists, editors, technicians from being lost and wavered by the false information, misrepresentation, and falsification of hostile forces on social networking sites.

Thirdly, it is vital to constantly renew the contents and teaching methods of political theory in the direction of theory associated with practice, serving the needs of learners so that the resolution learning class becomes lively and attractive. Not only resolutions are imparted one-way but also theoretical knowledge application is taught; and then practical experience of both teachers and learners to enrich knowledge is exploited. In the teaching process, it is necessary for lecturers to choose the core content to teach and communicate; the contents should be short, concise, condensed, easy to remember, easy to understand and easy to be organized and implemented; the resolutions of all levels should be closely followed with the exact identification of key tasks or weak points to create development steps. It is vital to resolutely overcome the situation of teaching general resolutions without focus, being theoretical and distant from reality; it is necessary to attach importance to renewing and diversifying forms and methods of conveying and thoroughly grasping the resolution to ensure both attractiveness and scientific character as well as practicality; to combine oral communication with effective use of mass media; team of journalists must be carefully selected, really are the ones with good qualities, skills and ability to impart resolutions.

Fourthly, it is essential to promote the activeness and initiative of each journalist, editor, technician in press agencies in self-study and self-research to improve the level of political theory according to the motto “Study goes as a pair with practice”. For each journalist, editor, and technician, it is necessary to be deeply imbued with President Ho Chi Minh’s advice on the purpose of the study: “Study to work, to be a human, and to be a cadre. Study to serve the mass associations, the class and the people, the Fatherland and the humanity”(8). Related people must regularly study and cultivate political qualities, and associate theoretical learning with daily work practice: “Learning is a thing that must continue for a lifetime. Learning must be associated with theory with practical work. No one can claim that they already know enough, or know it all. The world is more and more reformed, our people are progressing more and more, so we must continue to learn and practice to make progress with the people”(9). Therefore, preventing and combating the laziness in learning political theory, the underestimation of the role of political theory among Party members in general, and journalists, editors, and technicians in particular is an urgent issue of great importance to the current Party’s building and rectification. This is the best and most positive measure to help the contingent of journalists, editors and technicians in press agencies to improve their level of political theory, to have firm and absolute political mettle, to be loyal to the Party’s revolutionary ideal, imbued with Marxism - Leninism theory, Ho Chi Minh Thought, the Party’s guidelines and viewpoints, the State’s policies and laws, the practical situation of locality and country; it is essential to promptly identify, prevent and repel the deterioration of ideology, politics, lifestyle ethics, self-development, self-transformation among cadres, Party members, Party organizations and people today.

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Endnotes:

(1) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, vol.2, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 1996, p.259.

(2) Currently, the whole nation has 844 printed press agencies with 184 printed newspapers and 660 magazines; and 24 independent electronic press agencies with about 19,000 journalists certified with journalist cards; and 23,893 members of Vietnam Journalists Association.

(3) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, vol.6, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2004, p.50.

(4) Constantly cultivating the professional ethics of journalists, https://www.nhandan.com.vn.

(5) The press contingent must regularly practice revolutionary political ideology and ethics, http://dangcongsan.vn.

(6), (7) CPV: Document of the 4th Plenum of the 12th Party Central Committee, Office of the Party Central Committee, Hanoi, 2016, pp.26-37, 38-39.

(8), (9) Ho Chi Minh: Complete Works, vol.6, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, pp.208, 215.

Assoc.Prof., Dr. Hoang Phuc Lam

Standing Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee, Vice President

Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

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