VIETNAM: Free Media Doesn’t Require Lifeguards

YVONNE EPPS WRITES — In a perfect world, there would be depth to the concept of press freedom in Vietnam.  Unfortunately, all they have now is a shallow kiddy pool that is severely monitored by ‘helicopter’ parents. The issue is becoming much more complicated as the party is finding more ways to shrink the kiddy pool even more.

Earlier this month, Vietnam News stated that fake reporters are damaging the media’s image by blackmailing and scamming people under the guise of representing media offices. While there is radio silence about fake reporters on other venues, it is important to realize that there are individuals adding to Vietnam’s already unpopular media reputation. Their reporters and journalists are working hard under the husky breath of the party and this just hammers another nail into the coffin.

This development is taking a different direction than intended by the Ministry of Information and Communications. VietnamNet Bridge reported on the Ministry’s criticism of the quality of the press, mentioning sensational news and negative news that details criminal behavior as a few indicators. It is true that these topics aren’t serious and intend to net more views, but they are still important genres people care about. While these genres aren’t as bad as fake reporters, it’s an issue that the Ministry finds a problem with.

The link between fake reporters and the quality of the press is a simple one: the Ministry plans to implement a revised Press Law that they received permission to pass in 1999. One can only hope that this revised law has the best intentions for the hard working reporters and journalists in the country.

What makes this situation worse is that this doesn’t seem to be acknowledged in the media sphere other than Vietnam’s shores. A quick gleam of stories complimenting VietnamNet Bridge’s reporting finds AsiaOne is the one bringing this to light despite being a reprint. Let’s do our part to keep the kiddy pool as wide as possible and we’ll work on the depth along the way.

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